Rotary Club of Excelsior – Tuesday, April 16, 2021
The Rotary Club of Excelsior met by Zoom for its regular meeting on Tuesday, February 16th.  There were 22 people in attendance with guests Padee Yang (Global Scholar), Don Stiles (Global Scholar Coordinator for District 5950), Adrian Faiers (AG for London Rotary and Global Grant Coordinator for Rotary District 1130), and John Bash (Sponsor from the St. Marylebone Rotary Club in London, England).  President Kate called the meeting to order and Lou Graber acted as Opening Marshal.   President Kate announced that our District has founded a new Autistic Club.  She called on Lou Graber to let members know that our top STRIVE Scholar from two years ago has notified the club that he has applied to the U of M and to take advantage of our $2,500 scholarship.
President Kate then called on Karen Frazier to report on members we have not heard from lately.  Karen reported that Bob Boyer is doing well and very busy.  Attempts to contact Joe Froehling were unsuccessful as his cell phone has been discontinued.  Paul Huber is recovering well from Covid and is back to work, has lost 30 lbs., using oxygen as needed and to tell everyone to “Live some life!”.  Jerry Brecke is doing well and taking a break and still wants to be active in Peru and had a little reaction from his Covid vaccine shots.  Dr. Tyronne Carter thanked the Club for the donation to his program that will allow there to be a four week half day STEM Program for 1-3rd graders in Shakopee starting on June 21, 2021.
In the next part of our program President Kate awarded five Paul Harris Awards to James Cada, Jenny Jansen, Kate Wilinski, Linda Gustafson, Marianne Laurent, Ron Hughes and Tyronne Carter.  Paul Harris Awarded Winners will be presented with their pins and certificates at our first live meeting at MCEC in the Deephaven Room on Tuesday, April 6th.  The only birthday was Tim Litfin’s on February 25th!  President Kate finished her announcements by listing upcoming programs:  March 5th – David Schultz – Political Analysist, March 16th TBD, and April 6th – Club Assembly and Paul Harris Awards.
Today’s Program:  Excelsior Mayor Todd Carlson
Our Speaker on Tuesday, February 16th was Todd Carlson, Mayor of Excelsior.  Todd is married to Alicia for 23 years and they have two sons – one is a Junior at MHS and the other is in 4th grade at Excelsior Elementary School. He is a native of St. Paul and went to college in Wisconsin.  Out of college he went to work for 3M for 10 years and then to California to working in the Dot Com Business for 7 years and then back to Minnesota with 3M since 2006.  They moved to Excelsior in 2012 and love the community and his hobby (besides politics) is wine making.  His connection with Rotary is his Dad who was a Rotarian for 35 years who served as a Club President and District Governor.
Mayor Todd talked a bit about his philosophy and how important it is to learn how to really listen and learn from what people are telling you.  One of favorite quotes is “The less you know the more certain you are.”  So he prides himself on listening to his constituents even though it has been difficult  working from home this year.  His other favorite saying is “Don’t be afraid to fail, but if so, fail fast!”  What he likes about Excelsior is  the goal of residents owning their own neighborhood and to help their neighbors (like snow-blowing the sidewalks for your neighbors!)  “In Excelsior,” he says, “Everybody is a neighbor.”
Mayor Carlson noted that Excelsior is in excellent financial condition and their funding is strong with the City having a top AAA Credit Rating.  Covid has been difficult on the City but has not held them back from various capital improvement projects and many coming up this spring.  Excelsior plans to work on its infrastructure this year although they do not receive a lot of state funding but the parking permits and fees have helped a lot.  They plan to make improvements to city streets, the Commons Area, break ground this week on a new Band Shell, improve the Business District and improve the walkability for pedestrians visiting the city.   Also Excelsior has established a Residential Review Committee working with the City Planner to advise residents and builders on exterior remodeling and new starts for residential designs and neighborhood continuity.  Mayor Todd then opened the floor for Q&A and he covered a myriad of inquiries from dealing with Covid, an Excelsior Hotel, redevelopment of the corner at Water and 3rd Street and other sites in the business district, and the new Commons Band Shell to be completed by July.  Mayor Todd Carlson did the City of Excelsior proud today and will consider joining Excelsior Rotary in the future!
The final minutes of the meeting were spent on Happy Bucks for our Education Scholarship Fund and visiting with our Rotarian guests Adrian Faiers and John Bash from London, Don Stiles from District 5950 and Padee Yang our Club sponsored Global Scholar.
Global Scholar Candidate Padee Yang on Academic Goals
The following essay is the 2nd in our series written by Padee Yang our Club’s Sponsored Global Scholar.   We want to express our congratulations for being accepted for her Master’s Degree Program at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) at the University of London.
“As a first-generation college student, I am humbled by both my parents struggle immigrating to the U.S., fleeing conflict, as well as their inspirational pursuit of a better life for themselves and their family. Their commitment and fortitude pushes me to strive for better opportunities and a better life, for myself and others with backgrounds similar to my own. I aspire to address issues in post-conflict settings to support refugees and asylum seekers, particularly women and girls. I am also motivated to promote and provide the access to care, basic human rights, and other necessities that these individuals and their families deserve. 
            To fulfill this aspiration, I am considering a few academic institutions in the United Kingdom due to its international network and excellence in higher education with flexible programs that combine international development, humanitarian aid, and gender studies. The first institution that I am considering is the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) at the University of London because they specialize in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, all regions that I intend to work in the future and over 200 clubs including SOAS Detainee Support. SOAS has two Masters of Science programs that are of interest to me. The first is a Master’s of Science degree in Violence, Conflict, and Development which addresses the relationship between these three subject areas with a strong emphasis on empirical research and a compulsory module on development with focus on theory, policy, and practice. This program would provide me with background knowledge on trends and patterns of violence in conflict to conduct future research on development and policy. The second-degree program - in Humanitarian, Aid, and Conflict - is focused much more on practical application and situations of armed-conflict and emergency; addressing security and engagement with key stakeholders to support my future engagement in fieldwork. The second institution that I am considering is the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) which addresses more regions around the world and would enable me to have a wider network to engage with. There are two programs that I am interested in at LSE: (1) the Masters in Science in Conflict Studies and (2) the Masters in Science in International Development and Humanitarian Emergencies. The former program emphasizes politics, human rights, and peace reconstruction through comparative research to give direction to the focus of my future research. The latter program includes a consultancy project where one works in a team to tackle a current policy issue for a client organization such as UNHCR, giving me an enriching and unique experience. These programs will all equip me with analytical perspectives and tools to bridge the gap between policy and practice. Furthermore, both institutions have hundreds of alumni who have engaged with refugee and humanitarian aid organizations such as the International Rescue Committee which I plan to work with to lessen the inequality in conflict-affected areas and advocate for the rights and humane treatment of refugees.”