Interview with Incoming TERC President, Virginia O’Reilly

The new Rotary year starts on July 1st, and we are pleased to bring you an interview with incoming Toronto East Rotary Club President Virginia O’Reilly!
Interview by Tara Webster, and edited for clarity and length
TW: Virginia, congratulations on your upcoming club Presidency! Can you tell me about how and why you joined the Toronto East Rotary Club?
VOR: I was asked! I was working on a fundraiser at Providence Villa (now Providence Healthcare) and that’s where I met (founding President) Bill Phelan. Through that, he asked me to join a meeting and eventually to join the Club. As some readers may know, I come from the East Coast, and my parents were involved in helping the community and we all knew the value of getting together to help the community and of being community-minded.  There’s a quote by Mother Theresa that I really like “I can do things you cannot, you can do things I cannot. Together we can do great things”.  Rotary allows us to do that. 
TW: How would you describe your leadership style?
VOR: What I try to do is listen to all sides and to come up with something that works for most people. Sometimes you can’t do everything for everyone, but in Rotary, the same as in the workplace, you have to listen to everyone and give them a chance to speak their mind and acknowledge their views and ideas.
TW: Can you tell me why ‘Service Above Self’ is so important?
VOR: My background is business, but I’ve come to the conclusion that the almighty stock price isn’t a healthy metric. We have to take care of each other. It used to be that people had big families and a close-knit community, and people took care of each other. But we’re losing that social net (or it feels that way in the city). After a while you realize that you need to step up and do something, you can’t just sit around and wait for someone else to fix things – we all have the ability to take on a certain responsibility and play our part in fixing a problem.
TW: Since you have been a member of TERC, what are some of the changes to the Club, our neighborhood, or Rotary International that you have been happy to see?
VOR: I am really excited to see our East End neighborhood become more multi-cultural and hope our Club can work to reflect that.  Be out in the community, being able to connect with people who can shed a light on who needs help and how we can help. If you don’t get out and talk to people, you’ll never know what you’re missing! One of the other things I’m really excited about is seeing Rotary International have more flexibility and become less structured, in the last 5-8 years. For example, not every member may be able to attend a meeting every week. Also, different people have different specialties, and ways they can help. We’ve left some of the formality behind, and I think it makes a lot of sense! We still have a focus on service above self, but can diversify our clubs…the way we meet, our focus and the way we help the community. As an example, I think of the Rotary Club of Surfers Sunrise in Australia and the great work they do. Rotary also has a plethora of Fellowships with Rotarians uniting over their passions. This is great! 
TW: The Jennifer Jones tour in early July – tell me more about what we have to be excited about!
VOR: I think it’s incredibly exciting! Jennifer Jones is our first woman Rotary International President.  This is history making!  And she is travelling across Canada, kicking off her Presidency in her home country of Canada! She’s travelling extensively across the country, and providing both media coverage and showcasing the work we do to people who may not know what Rotary is really all about. It’s also a good chance for us as Rotarians to join her and have fun, while making a difference in our communities and the world. This will be an amazing opportunity for visibility for Rotary Clubs around Canada, and I can’t wait.
Virginia, thank you for all you do, and we look forward to having you at the helm for this upcoming Rotary year!