RI’s 1st female club president speaks tonight

If you’re the first person in the world to do something, chances are you’re a pretty unusual individual.

Any Rotarian who would like to meet such a person is invited to a virtual event at which Dr. Sylvia Whitlock will be the keynote speaker.

In 1987, Whitlock became president of the Rotary Club of Duarte, CA, making her the first woman to hold such a position within Rotary International. That club’s charter had been revoked in 1978 after it violated RI’s policy by admitting women. The club filed suit in a California court, claiming that Rotary Clubs are business establishments subject to regulation under a California civil rights act that bans discrimination based on race, gender, religion, or ethnic origin. It won the case and RI appealed the decision to the Supreme Court of the United States.

On May 4, 1987, the Supreme Court confirmed the Californian decision supporting women, in the case Board of Directors, Rotary International v. Rotary Club of Duarte. After the ruling, Rotary International ended its policy of gender restrictions.

According to a Wikipedia entry, Whitlock was born in New York City and educated in Kingston, Jamaica. She returned to New York City after high school and earned a B.A. in psychology from Hunter College. She later moved to California where she earned a master’s degree in education from Cal Poly Pomona and a Ph.D. in education from Claremont Graduate School. Whitlock earned a second master’s, in marriage and family therapy, from Azusa Pacific University. She also was an elementary school principal in Duarte, CA.

She will be speaking at 7 p.m. tonight (May 3). Register here for access.

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