Continue to lead by example

A message from 2017–18 Kiwanis International President Jim Rochford

To paraphrase Albert Schweitzer, when it comes to leadership, leading by example is not just the main thing, it’s the only thing! Kiwanis reached an all-time high in membership in 1992–93 at just under 325,000. In the past 25 years, we lost 40 percent of our membership and only had true net growth in one of the past 25 years. Thank you, Past Kiwanis International President Bo Shafer! 

Your 2017–18 class of governors is committed to lead by example as we strive to achieve our goal of opening 409 clubs this year. Carolinas District Governor Mary Jo Brubaker, for example, opened her first club before our convention in Paris this past July. She didn’t stop there, recruiting 30 members and forming another club in just three days. 

Texas-Oklahoma District Governor Patrick Schibi paid his way to New York to work with a contingency of the Eye of the Tiger team to open two clubs in the Long Island area. And a third one is in progress. Then, he returned home and helped open a club there, and he’s been working diligently on two others. 

Kansas District Governor Jane Maxwell helped open two clubs in 2016–17 and continues to work on two more. Her district hasn’t opened many clubs in recent years, but she has many past governors and others who are motivated to open clubs. 

Governor Jane Burch helped open all four of the clubs opened in the Nebraska-Iowa District this past year. She has identified many sites for new clubs, has trained many people and is well positioned to achieve her goals. 

Governor Justin Hahn opened the second club that his Wisconsin-Upper Michigan District formed during The Formula campaign. He hopes to open two other clubs soon. He likely will lead his district to new heights in membership. 

I was pleased to join a global team of nearly 60 of Kiwanis’ best club openers this past October as we worked at eight new-club sites in the Chicago, Illinois, suburbs. Kudos to Illinois-Eastern Iowa District Governor Terry Cunefare, the Eye of the Tiger leadership team and The Formula team, which was led by Jim Dooley. 


The four things we need to have a successful business are the same things we need to build a successful Kiwanis club: 

Finders—That is the role we must play in constantly looking for new blood to enthuse our membership. Enthusiasm is contagious! 

Minders—Once we tell people how good we are, we need a member to take someone under his/her wing and orient them to the activities within the club. This does not have to be the recruiter, but just someone who cares about the club’s longevity.  

Grinders—These are the people who chair our service projects and work with our leadership programs. We must have something to do after we tell people and orient them to our club experience. 

Binders—On the club level, these are members of the board of directors. They are the glue that holds everything together. 

When all four of these roles are working effectively, it makes for a healthy club and equals more service. 


I was pleased to participate in a three-day effort in Kannapolis, North Carolina. The result was 30 new members! Many members are in their 30s, and three are city council members, as well as the mayor. The schools are anxious for our programs. This all started with me having a conversation on a three-hour plane ride with a teacher from that area. She is the new club’s charter vice president and eager to organize our Service Leadership Programs in Kannapolis. Thank you, Pam Allyn! 

The Kiwanis International Board is leading by example, going out to three Indiana communities as part of its board retreat this past October. I’ve challenged each board member to make their top priority to go out to the districts they counsel and work field shoulder-to shoulder with their governor to open a club. I’ve asked them to have monthly contact with the governors they counsel. 

 This month, I have the honor of going to Taiwan to celebrate that district’s 50th anniversary. The trip is made possible by the leadership’s commitment to open 20 clubs before I arrive.  

A successful mini-blitz in Ohio and Kentucky near the Cincinnati area took place in November.  My governors, Eye of the Tiger leaders and The Formula team for the districts were involved. 

Best wishes to all Kiwanians to have a happy holiday season in December and a blessed Christmas. We need to pray for stability in our world, for which Kiwanis can be a major factor. Enjoy time with your family. 

Be sure to watch the Roses Parade on January 1, 2018, to see many of our top recruiters, openers and governors who will be riding the Kiwanis float. 

Keep leading by example!