Official Newsletter of the Salem Rotary Club

This week at Rotary...

Chair, Salem’s Race Equity Task Force
Shawn Newton is a Salem resident who worked for nearly 20 years at Salem State University prior to taking his new position as Associate Dean of Students at Suffolk University. He and his wife have raised their family here, and their children have gone through the Salem Public Schools. His family is deeply invested in Salem, and as his children got older, Shawn began to become more in involved in giving back to the community through service with Plummer Youth Promise, the No Place for Hate Committee, and teaching classes on tough topics including race.
Last summer, in response to what was happening around the country with systemic racism, Mayor Driscoll reached out to Shawn to get involved in a new community initiative, Salem’s Race Equity Task Force. She acknowledged that racism took a long time to create in this country but wanted to see what Salem could do right now, over a year-long period, to make significant impacts on race equity. After laying out her vision of what this task force could look like, she asked Shawn to lead this effort as chair. Fellow Rotarian Siddhartha Shah also serves on this task force.
Shawn’s role is to harness the passions and strengths of task force members to make meaningful change in Salem. This is a hefty task with topics so large and complex such as race and equity. The task force spent the first few months establishing what race equity is in Salem and coming to a consensus on key questions to begin the work of systemic change. The group determined that the best path forward was to create subcommittees to address topics where they have expertise and strengths and could make positive change. The subcommittees include: Public Safety; Education; Health and Wellness; Community Culture; and Economics.
Once the Mayor announced the creation of the task force, there was great interest from the Salem community, and many wanted to know more and get involved. This has been a challenge, because the task force is still building the foundation for how this work can continue. A Race Equity Task Force website will be coming out soon, and the committee is recommending the task force continue past its initial one-year assignment. The work ahead is very challenging, and everyone has an important role to play.
Shawn used the game Monopoly as an analogy for race and equity. He shared that statistically whoever goes first in the game has a better chance at winning, as they are typically the first to buy property and the first to pass “go” to collect $200. People who follow suit attempt to do the same as the first player, but are trying to catch up without the same advantage of being first. He asked the group to imagine two players coming into the game after play had been occurring for a while. The new players are given the same starting money as the initial players, but their first role may land them on someone else’s property with a hotel. Instead of being able to purchase properties to compete fairly in the game, they are giving their money to well established players.
When considering race in this analogy, ethnic and racial groups have not always been given the same advantages as the majority or the powerful throughout our country’s history. People of different groups were not able to participate or be entitled to the same rights as others for 100s of years and have been trying to overcome well-established barriers. It is not just about equity and inclusion, but also justice and the elimination of systemic racism in every facet of our society.
Shawn closed by saying racism was done, but anything that is done can be undone. It may take more time than we’d like to undo racism in this country, but it is up to all of us to participate and figure this out together, not just the people impacted.


Amanda Walsh of Salem
Sold by John Walsh

VisIting Rotarians & Guests

  • Thomas MacDonald, Co-Chair, Public Safety Subcommittee, Race Equity Task Force
  • Aviva Herr-Welber, Community Organizer, Essex County Community Organization (ECCO)


Rinus and Jen gave an update on the Spring Break Series. Join us for three events focused on fellowship, fundraising, and fun!
The series features three events:
  • April 30 – Hawthorne Hotel Dinner at Home
  • May 14 – Cooking Class at Home with Citizens Inn
  • May 28 – Hawthorne Hotel Wine Tasting with Martignetti
Attend one, two or all three events! This a la carte style series is intended to get as many Rotarians and friends involved in supporting our Club and having fun as possible. Sponsorships are also available. Visit our website for more information.

Why I am A SALEM Rotarian

Siddhartha Shah opened our meeting this week. Rotary has been a part of his life since childhood. His grandfather founded his club in India and was a really proud Rotarian. He was very committed to service and conducted shoe drives and other service projects to feed children in his community. When his grandfather would visit his family in Chicago, Siddhartha would join him at the local Rotary Club meetings and on visits to Rotary’s headquarters. His grandfather would always wear a suit and have a speech in his pocket, along with a flag from his club, to share at these meetings. Siddhartha’s great uncle was also impacted by Rotary when he fell in love with a Swedish Rotary exchange student as a teenager. They were unable to marry for a variety of reasons, and his great uncle did not get married until his 80s when he reunited with Christine, the love of his life, and moved to Sweden. Siddhartha’s personal experience with Rotary began when he was an exchange student in high school. He studied in Flanders, Belgium as part of a Rotary exchange program. While he has always had the deepest respect for Rotary, there he saw the shadow side of what some clubs were like. It was a very rural town, there was no diversity in membership, and there were no women allowed in the club. Additionally, members were very sexist and objectified women from the president down at meetings. This made Siddhartha really uncomfortable in these spaces, but he still had to acknowledge the good work these Rotarians did in the community. This is part of the reason Siddhartha has joined Salem Rotary. In addition to his family legacy, he wants to bridge the good work of Rotary’s past with a more welcoming and inclusive club and organization for the future. Siddhartha selected Leslie Levesque to share next week.

RotarIAN NEWS...

  • Joe Amico shared that he had invited Aviva because the Tabernacle Church is one of 40 churches on the North Shore working with ECCO on policing and racism. They are hoping to work with the Race Equity Task Force on these initiatives.
  • Mark Shaw shared that a COVID-19 outbreak closed the restaurant where his Naples North Club meets. Fortunately, none of the members were impacted, but the club is displaced for the time being.
  • Rinus Oosthoek noted that he loved the discussion at today’s meeting and hopes the club continues the dialogue on how we can be more inclusive and diverse.

Club Announcements

Senior Fiesta Drive-Thru
Thursday, May 5
In lieu of the Senior Prom Event with the Council on Aging, the Club will be sponsoring a Fiesta Drive-Thru event for seniors on Cinco de Mayo. Volunteers will be needed to handout pre-packaged lunches to seniors at the Community Life Center on May 5 at 11 AM. Please contact Patty Pace if you are able to assist.
Lifebridge Dinner Wednesday, May 12
Volunteers are needed for the next Lifebridge dinner. Again, a recipe will be provided to volunteers so the meal will be consistent, and volunteers will make a portion of the dinner in their home kitchens. Please contact Kristen Armstrong or Claire Kallelis if you would like to volunteer in March or in the future.
Upcoming Speakers
Apr 27, 2021
President, Salem State University
May 04, 2021
May 11, 2021
President and CEO, North Shore Chamber of Commerce
View entire list
Member Birthdays
Viktoria Talebian
April 14
Richard Moore
April 17
Michael McLaughlin
April 19
Gerrit Bradley
April 21
Sue O'Brien
April 22
Board of Directors
President Elect
Vice President
Immediate Past President
Public Image Chair
Russell Hampton
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Club Information
Tuesdays at 12:15 PM
Hawthorne Hotel
18 Washington Square
Salem, MA 01970
United States of America
We are currently meeting via Zoom due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We look forward to returning to the Hawthorne Hotel soon! In the meantime, please email for our Zoom link.
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102-2060 Winston Park Drive, Oakville, ON, L6H 5R7