Spotlight on Monica Conroy

Friday, July 10, 2020 By: Monica K. Conroy
Welcome to our new club administrator, Monica Conroy.

My first exposure to Rotary was as part of an Army family living in Seoul, Korea, in the 1980s. Rotary is held in high regard by Koreans. I went back to Korea to teach English in 1995 for a year. Upon my return, I bumped into a college friend and she introduced me to Katherine Wellington, who was serving as Secretary of the Rotary Club of Washington, D.C. She was so passionate about Rotary and the Washington Club and its members! I started as the Administrator/Executive Director in November 1996. The club met at the Hotel Washington (now the W) then. My first day on the job started with our annual career fair with over 300 students in the morning and Jack Valenti, then President of the Motion Picture Association of America, speaking at the club’s weekly lunch.

The 1998 Embassy bombings in Tanzania and Kenya took the lives of our former club member Julian Bartley Sr. and his son Jay. Julian had also belonged to the Rotary Club of Medellin and was a member of the Nairobi Club. Rotary International President Lacy presented Julian’s widow Sue and their daughter Edith with Paul Harris recognition later that year at the National Press Club.

One of my favorite early Washington Club memories was painting a Boys and Girls Club location in the city. Another is attending a Trees for the Capital planting with the founder of our speaker recognition, Peter Gilsey, and dining at his forward-thinking, plant-based restaurant in Bethesda, Thyme Square.

I left the club as an employee in 2001, not long after September 11. We had a Board meeting that Tuesday. The outpouring of support through phone calls and letters was emotional. The Rotary Club of Oklahoma City took its remaining donations received after the Murrah Building bombing and sent them to the Washington Club. We used those funds to aid survivors of the Pentagon attack. I went to work for Rotarian Chuck Lawrence at Security Storage Company of Washington and stayed there and in the club through Security’s acquisition in 2015. Since its founding in 1890, Security supported the Washington community with time and resources; Community Chest was started in the building lobby in the early 1900s. Security was always represented in the Rotary Club of Washington and in Kiwanis as well.

These experiences and many more have shown me the power of connectivity through Rotary on many levels – personal, professional, social, local, international. In late 2001, I switched from honorary to full-time Rotarian and served the club in most positions over the years, including Club President in 2008-2009 and Foundation President a few years later. I was named Rotarian of the Year in 2006 and 2012. Fun facts: My Changing of the Guard was held at the National Zoo! Also, our club participated in an interactive panel about our Capital Cities Network at the 2008 Rotary International Convention in Los Angeles.

Tell us something you're proud of.
I am most proud of stepdaughter Sydney graduating from high school this year. We have a rock star relationship.

What is one thing few people know about you?
I did a solo skydive at 23. If I could have afforded it at the time, skydiving would have become my expensive hobby. Now, driving across the Bay Bridge makes me weak in the knees.

What's the best place you've traveled to and why?
I love travel! I lived in Istanbul for a few months in 2009, during Ramadan, for the World Bank IMF Annual Meeting and fell in love. It’s a stunning city of contrast. Old, new, Christianity, Islam, Asia, Europe.

What are your working hours?
I’m available traditional hours Monday to Friday. Email is best – I am also available via phone at 202-331-8686. The club has evolved over the years. Some things are the same. I’m learning the rest and look forward to serving the club again.