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Stephanie Urchick celebrates the magic of Rotary

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RI president-elect announces 2024-25 presidential theme


Rotary International President-elect Stephanie Urchick announced that the 2024-25 presidential theme is The Magic of Rotary and called on members to recognize and amplify the organization’s power to save lives.

“Don’t misunderstand me – we are not going to end polio or bring peace to the world by waving a wand and saying some funny words,” Urchick told incoming district governors at the Rotary International Assembly on 8 January. “It’s up to you. You create the magic with every project completed, every dollar donated, and every new member.”

Watch the theme address

Urchick, a member of the Rotary Club of McMurray, Pennsylvania, USA, said she saw the magic of Rotary on display when she was helping install water filters in the Dominican Republic. Two boys were watching as dirty water entered the filter, then ran out clean at the other end.

“One of the boys grabbed my sleeve and said, ‘Show me the magic again,’” she said. “Obviously, the water filter wasn’t magic. We worked hard to transport those filters, install them, and work with community leaders in the area to maintain them. But those boys knew that easy access to clean water would change their lives. Knowing that I played a small part in that certainly changed my life.”

Prioritizing peace

Urchick urged members to champion Rotary’s Action Plan, find a balance between continuity and change, and work for peace. She plans to host a presidential peace conference in 2025 with the theme “Healing in a Divided World.”

Rotary has a long history of promoting peace through its network of peace centers, Urchick noted. Located at top universities around the globe, the centers have trained nearly 1,800 peace fellows who are now working in more than 140 countries. The newest center, located at Bahçeşehir University in Istanbul, Turkey, will welcome its first class of fellows in early 2025.

“The Rotary Peace Fellowship began more than 20 years ago to equip peace and development professionals from communities around the world to become effective catalysts for ending and preventing conflict,” Urchick said. “This conference will focus on Rotary’s peace efforts and provide opportunities to learn together.”

In addition to emphasizing peacebuilding, Urchick reiterated Rotary’s commitment to eradicating polio. She urged the incoming governors to join or initiate PolioPlus Societies in their districts and do all they can to help end the disease.

“Contact elected officials and other government leaders. Remind them that polio is still a threat. Push them to support polio eradication,” she said. “Polio remains our top priority and requires our fullest commitment, but there is so much important work to do.”

Balancing continuity and change

Urchick also underscored the necessity of balancing continuity and change, both of which animate Rotary’s Action Plan.

“The plan is all about building on our best ideas, not abandoning them,” she said. “We face a tough balancing act. We must change ourselves and stay true to who we are.”

She asked the governors to do whatever is needed to make the club experience irresistible to members.

“That might mean changing how things are done in your district,” she said. “If your district has been doing things one way for 50 years, it’s probably time to reassess. If a club in your district isn’t active or is losing members, maybe it’s time to start a new club that fits better with the community. Just because a club or district hasn’t changed in a while doesn’t mean no one is hungry for change.”

One way to make positive change, she said, is to embrace the principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion within clubs.

“I hope you’ll join me in opening your arms to future people of action, even if – and in some cases, especially if – they don’t look or act like the typical member of your local club,” she said. “With DEI, it is easier to be united in a common purpose. It’s in those moments when we are committed and focused that we are the most effective and relevant.”

Speeches & resources

2024-25 theme logo and materials (download)

2024-25 RI President-elect Stephanie Urchick’s speech (PDF, watch, video download)

RI President R. Gordon R. McInally speech (PDF, watch, video download)

RI General Secretary and CEO John Hewko’s speech (PDF, watch, video download)

Rotary Foundation Trustee Chair-elect Mark Daniel Maloney (PDF, watch, video download)

View and download more International Assembly speeches

For downloadable files of these images and others, and select videos, visit the International Assembly page on the Brand Center. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, write to us.

  1. The flags of Zambia (left) and Zimbabwe onstage at the International Assembly in Orlando, Florida, USA. Learning facilitators and their partners carry the flag of every Rotary country, region, and territory during the ceremony. 8 January 2024.

  2. Deepa Khanna (right) , governor-elect of District 3100 (India), and her partner, Anil Khanna , the district’s incoming diversity, equity, and inclusion chair, attend the opening session of the International Assembly in Orlando, Florida, USA. 8 January 2024.

  3. Virginia McKenzie, of the Rotary Club of The Pacific Northwest Ending Sex Trafficking, Washington, USA, speaks during the International Assembly in Orlando, Florida, USA . McKenzie explained that she decided to charter a club that focuses on addressing human trafficking after learning about a similar cause-based Rotary club in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA. 8 January 2024.

  4. Learning Facilitators Ahmed Saada and Claudia Hendry (far right), introduce the other learning facilitators for the International Assembly in Orlando, Florida, USA. The facilitators help participants exchange ideas and discuss their experiences during breakout sessions at the assembly and will continue to serve as resources throughout the coming Rotary year. 8 January 2024.

  5. Partners of district governors-elect exchange ideas and discuss their experiences during the Partner Roundtable Discussion at the International Assembly in Orlando, Florida, USA. 8 January 2024.

  6. Participants talk during a break between sessions at the International Assembly in Orlando, Florida, USA. 9 January 2024.

  7. Past District Governor Amanda Wendt of District 9800 (Australia) talks about The Four-Way Test at the International Assembly in Orlando, Florida, USA. She explained how the test, created by Herbert Taylor in 1932, should be used not to judge others but to guide a leader’s own performance and help them become more visionary. 9 January 2024.

  8. A participant in the partner program tries on a theme scarf before a general session of the International Assembly in Orlando, Florida, USA. The session focused on Rotary’s diversity and the exciting role that the partners of district governors-elect will play in the coming Rotary year. RI President-elect Stephanie Urchick noted that she considers them not “just” partners or spouses but members of the family of Rotary. 9 January 2024.

  9. Rotary International General Secretary and CEO John Hewko addresses the International Assembly in Orlando, Florida, USA. He talked about the intersection of connection and passion, and how members can develop innovative ways to engage others and grow Rotary. 8 January 2024.

  10. Masako Mako Nakaya, left, of Ashikaga, Japan, partner of Kenichi Nakaya, past governor of District 2550, and Sandra Liliana Perdomo Carrillo, second from left, a member of the Rotary Club of Bogotá Centenario, Colombia, and district governor-elect for District 4281 pose with other participants from Japan for a photo during the cultural exchange at the International Assembly in Orlando, Florida, USA. The exchange is an opportunity for assembly participants to display the culture of their home countries. 10 January 2024.

  11. Rotary International President-elect Stephanie A. Urchick, right, and Joanne Huey Jiuan Kam, a member of the Rotary club of Suntec City, Singapore, participate with other attendees in the cultural exchange at the International Assembly in Orlando, Florida, USA. 10 January 2024.