Dear Dedicated Members for Change,
Five days ago, I assumed my duties as Grand Master of California, with the watchwords “evolution and change.” I will not just talk the talk, but I intend to walk the walk. A hallmark of my year will be a sustained effort to include Odd Fellows who may have felt excluded in the past. We will expand this tent and make sure that increasing numbers of our members have a role to play in our governance. On this path of inclusion, we will re-energize this Order to undertake our Number One task: Bringing in new members to grow.
I began that process of evolution and change on Day 1 of my term as Grand Master. Attached is my list of the seven Grand Lodge Officers I appointed for 2015-16. In the entire history of California Odd Fellowship, only two women have ever served as Grand Lodge Officers, and they served in different years. In 2014-15, no women served as Grand Lodge Officers. Of my seven 2015-16 appointments, I am proud to say that four are women. All seven appointments are young (or at least, youthful) and dynamic. And all seven have a history of enthusiasm, service and accomplishment. They will serve this Order well for the coming year, and I predict, for many years to come.
I have also made appointments to committees for the coming year. Once again, my appointments reflect evolution and change. I have endeavored to expand the universe of Odd Fellows from around the state who serve us in various capacities, and have made an effort to reach out and include more members – including members who have never been given the opportunity to serve. In the past, service on Grand Lodge Committees has been a relatively closed universe. No more.
I have also given specific tasks to key committees and have created new committees focused on the tasks at hand and on the future. For example, we will have a re-charged Membership Committee (under the leadership of Deputy Grand Master Peter Sellars) which will focus on ways to help Lodges grow, including an expanded Membership Grant Program (providing grants of up to $1,000 to Lodges with plans and events to bring in new members). I have appointed a Public Relations Committee to develop plans to reach out and create visibility for this Order, a Dedicated Members for Change Committee to be the think tank of ideas, a Revitalization Committee which will develop lists of specific suggestions Lodges can use to re-energize themselves and bring back the fun and community involvement we need to thrive and grow, and a Code Review Committee to finally review and repair our California Code (and make suggestions to modernize the General Code). These and other committees will help this Order re-enter the 21st Century.
Brother Glenn Lindsey recently wrote to me after doing a tally of my appointments for 2015-16, as compared to the appointments made for 2014-15. I think you may find the statistics interesting. Here is what Glenn found:
* The number of committees:
* The number of members appointed:
* The number of Lodges with appointees:
* Total number of appointments:
* Members appointed in 2015-16 who were not on the list of appointees in 2014-15:
83 of the 114 members appointed in 2015-16 were not on the list in 2014-15
* Members appointed in 2014-15 who were not on the list of appointees in 2015-16:
23 of the 53 members appointed in 2014-15 were not on the list in 2015-16
F – L – T
2015-16 Appointed Grand Lodge Officers
Grand Marshal Nancy Johnson
Nancy Jean McLean-Johnson was born into the Order, but joined as soon as she turned 18 – so she has been a member for 38 years. Her parents, grandparents and great grandparents have been members in Blue Lake, Forestville, Santa Rosa and Fremont. Nancy is a Past Grand of her Odd Fellows Lodge and a Past Noble Grand of her Rebekah Lodge. She has served as Past Grand Color Bearer for Rick Boyles and Past RA Color Bearer for Joan Pike. Nancy is also a Past President of the Children’s Home Board. Outside the Order, Nancy worked for years in the sheet metal industry as a Senior Buyer. She received her certification in business administration from the University of Santa Cruz. Nancy retired as a Senior Buyer in 2013, and took on the challenge of cake decorating and teaching, which she truly loves. Her husband, Jay, is the long-time Grand Treasurer of the Order.
Grand Conductor David Fleck
David Fleck is a relatively new brother, but he has deep family ties to the Order. His grandfather, Bob Meyers, was an Odd Fellow in western Pennsylvania. When Brother Bob passed away at the young age of 35 in 1939, his wife, Madge, could not support all four of their children. Fortunately, Madge reached out to the Odd Fellows orphanage in Pittsburgh, where her two eldest daughters, including David’s mother, Ethel, were able to live, eat, and study for a decade until they graduated from high school. David, who was the 2014 Noble Grand at San Fernando Lodge #365, is an at-large member of the Board of Directors of the Odd Fellows Homes of California. Professionally, David is a former criminal prosecutor in Los Angeles, and now has his own law firm and marketing company. He has been married to his wife, Eve, for over 20 years, and they have three school-aged children.
Grand Chaplain Rita Cooper
Rita Cooper has served as Noble Grand of Morse Lodge #257 in San Francisco. She has been elected Chief Patriarch of Golden Gate Encampment #1, and Lieutenant, Patriarchs Militant, Canton 5. Rita is also an associate member of Oakland-Encinal #3 and Berkeley #270, and is member of the Berkeley Lodge Board of Trustees. Rita is also a member of Silver Star Rebekah Lodge #336 – Fremont. Rita is very active in her Lodge organizing events (including the Luau, Vita Bella Italian Night, and Bingo Bonanzas) and also in public service as a volunteer for the San Francisco Food Bank. She has received a degree in business with an emphasis in marketing in the United Kingdom. She worked for Shell Oil, and then for Clarks Shoes Company where she rose to VP of Sales in the US, then founded Ecco Shoes USA. Rita then struck out on her own and funded Halo Sun LLC to develop and market her invention, a story-telling night light. Theatrical presentation is a strong interest for Rita, she is a world traveler (42 countries) and an advanced certified scuba diver.
Grand Color Bearer Lawrence “Stark” Dagesse
Stark Dagesse has been a member of Odd Fellows since 2010. His home Lodge is Yerba Buena #15 and he serves on two committees of that Lodge. He is a Past Grand, Past Noble Grand, Past Chief Patriarch, and Past District Deputy President. He currently serves as Treasurer of his Rebekah Ldoge, as an active member of his Encampment, and ass the Clerk for Canton San Francisco #5. Stark has lived in Indiana, Connecticut, New York and Vermont, until moving to California in 1995. He describes himself as “a proud High School dropout” having educated himself, earning his GED, and having taken courses in art, philosophy and history. He is a licensed emergency medical technician. Stark works in the live entertainment, music, television, and film industry, and is a union member of I.A.T.S.E. Local 16
Grand Guardian Lea Rosenberg
Lea Rosenberg is a member of Davis #169, Davis Rebekah #253, Davis Encampment #21, and Canton Davis #7. She is a Past Grand and current Noble Grand of her Davis Lodge, and is Past Noble Grand, and current Vice Grand of her Davis Rebekah Lodge. Lea serves as a District Deputy President of the Rebekah Assembly, and as Financial Scribe of her Encampment. Lea serves as a Trustee and member of the Hall Board Association. Very active in her Lodges she is chair of Breakfast with Santa, a Taste of Davis, Breakfast with the Bunny, and numerous other community events. A long-time community activist and volunteer, the City of Davis has honored her with the “Citizen of the Year” award, and the readers of the local daily newspaper have recognized her for several years as “Most Dedicated Community Volunteer.” She has been married to Dave Rosenberg for 47 years, has two adult children, and two grandchildren. Their daughter, Janis, is also a Davis Odd Fellow.
Grand Herald Anita Donnell
Anita Donnell is a member of Berkeley #270, her home Lodge, where she served two terms as Vice Grand. Currently, she holds the office of Treasurer of Berkeley #270, and as a Trustee of the Lodge. Anita is Past Grand at Oakland-Encinal #3, where she is an associate member. Anita remains very active in support of her Lodge as building manager for the Berkeley Lodge building. She earned her graduate degree in social work, and has been a social worker for over 10 years. In 2013, Anita married Mark Donnell, whose father, Edwin Donnell, served the Order for 66 years. Mark is also a devoted Odd Fellow.
Grand Instructor Neil Allen
Neil Allen has been a member of Sacramento #2 for over 9 years, and has served his Lodge as Noble Grand. He is a financial professional with 30-years experience in planning and investing retirement assets. Neil is currently the Investment Committee Chair for the Odd Fellows Home Board, a financial advisor to the Grand Lodge Board of Directors, and Chair of the Grand Lodge Benefits Committee. He is President of his own company, Allen Financial and Insurance Services, Inc., and is a registered investment advisor representative. Neil graduated in 1975 from the Oregon Institute of Technology with a Bachelor of Industrial Technology, Business Major.