SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

August 21, 2013

New Rotary governor seeks to make difference

BY ETHAN FORMAN
STAFF WRITER

---- — SALEM — Salem Five Senior Vice President John Hall said being a district governor of Rotary International is “almost like having two full-time jobs.”

In addition to his duties at the bank as division manager of commercial banking, Hall will serve for one year as governor for Rotary’s District 7930.

He will oversee, meet with and aid fundraising, community service and humanitarian efforts for 48 clubs, with 2,000 members, in a region that spans the north and west of Boston and as far as Salem, N.H. — and he’ll be expected to visit every one of the local chapters.

The local clubs in Salem (75 members), Beverly (100 members) and Danvers (51 members) are part of his division.

“My responsibility is to oversee how well the clubs are run,” Hall said, and to help with membership recruitment and fundraising. “My job is to help them build their clubs even better.”

Rotary attracts a wide range of members, including bankers, accountants, small-business owners and even stay-at-home moms and dads who just want to give back, said Hall, who has been a member since 1998.

One of Hall’s goals is to raise $250,000 for the Rotary International Foundation, which pays for humanitarian projects around the world. The more than a century-old nonprofit has worked to eradicate polio over the last 26 years.

Hall was chosen by a committee of past governors to take on the role in the coming year, and he’ll have 13 assistant governors to help him.

Becoming a governor for Rotary is a rare honor. The Salem Rotary Club, of which Hall was president from 2009 to 2010, has had four district governors in its 97-year history.

“I’m the fourth,” said Hall. “It’s a great honor.”

For Hall, community involvement is a natural extension of his role in a community bank, but also a way to help others. And the more he’s been involved, the more he’s wanted to do. Meeting Rotary scholarship recipients, for example, and hearing their stories touched him, he said, and motivated him to try to do more.

The Salem club gives approximately $48,000 in scholarships to 15 to 20 high school students from Salem each year, Hall said. Rotary also works quietly to help where it can. If a school principal calls and says a student needs money for new glasses, the club will write a check. The Salem club serves a monthly meal at Lifebridge, the homeless shelter in Salem; helps out with parties for foster children twice a year; and collects donations for Toys for Tots.

Hall has had to invest a lot of time training to become a governor, including a week of training with others in San Diego in January.

“I got to interact with people from all over the world,” said Hall, who also trained in Vancouver for three days.

His duties with Rotary are “a balancing act,” he said, given that he runs a division at the bank with $1 billion in assets and 45 employees. A majority of Rotary governors are retired, he noted.

However, Hall said he has the full support of the bank’s president and CEO, Joseph Gibbons.

“We are extremely proud of John’s philanthropic achievements, as well as his involvement with Rotary International,” Gibbons said in a prepared statement.

Hall, a Hamilton native, graduated from Norwich University, spent two years on active duty in the Army and 19 years in the Reserves, retiring as a lieutenant colonel. He also earned a master’s in business administration from Babson College.

Prior to joining Salem Five, he had a 28-year career at Shawmut Bank in Boston. He lives in Beverly with his wife, Nancy, and their two children.

Staff writer Ethan Forman can be reached at 978-338-2673, by email at eforman@salemnews.com or on Twitter at @DanverSalemNews.