Rotary International Community Leaders Briefing Part 2


Uploaded by whitehouse on 20.04.2012

Transcript:
Victoria McCullough: All right, guys.
Let's go ahead and have a seat.
Someone just informed me that in breaks is where Rotary gets
all of its business done, so that explains a lot.
So I'm really excited to introduce our next guest
and her team.
This is Gayle Smith and Harley Feldbaum.
They're from, they're some of the President's National
Security Advisors.
So I want to -- I'm really excited for them to speak with
you, and we'll get it started.
Thanks, Gayle.
(applause)
Gail: Sure.
Good morning, everybody.
Audience Members: Good morning.
Gayle Smith: And a term of diplomatic art
and high scientific value, you guys completely rock.
(laughter)
You do great work.
I've been in the development field for a long time,
I'm the President's Special Assistant,
and the senior person who does development, democracy,
global health, humanitarian response on the National
Security staff.
I'm accompanied by Harley Feldbaum,
who's otherwise known as my brain.
(laughter)
Who will help out here today.
I apologize, I'm going to have to leave at about five before
11:00 and run across the street because there are humanitarian
and other crises going on in the world.
But I've had the privilege of seeing what you do around the
world over many years, and one of the things I've
always envisioned is I can't tell you the number of
times I've been on a road, not necessarily a main highway,
and it's got all those signs of here and here and here,
and there's your logo up there.
It is on every one of those road signs on the African continent.
So I salute you also on your branding.
(laughter) (applause)
But I mean that seriously,
because that branding is important.
We support development around the world for a lot of reasons.
We've got strategic interest in it, because we are safer,
more secure, more prosperous when countries around the world
are safer, more secure and less vulnerable.
We have all sorts of economic interests in it.
If you look at the change in the world of countries that were
once low income that are now middle income,
we've got more partners.
But it's also about our values and about a fundamental message
that the government of the United States and the people of
the United States care about the rest of the world enough to
invest in their future and their prosperity and their dignity.
And the fact that you are all over the place doing that is of
extreme importance to all of us, and I think sends a message to
people around the world about what the American people
believe in.
So we're very indebted for that.
We have just a small thing in our portfolio called global
health, where I'm proud to say that we're the world's leader on
global health.
And I'm even prouder to say that I think we are at the point
now where this is not even bipartisan,
but a nonpartisan commitment supported by the Executive
Branch, the Legislative Branch, successive administrations,
with each one building on the legacy left by the last.
And that's a fabulous thing.
That means that all over the world people know that the fact
that the HIV/AIDS epidemic is on the run,
the fact that people in communities are seeing better
social services emerge and seeing their governments do
more, the fact that fewer kids are dying from malaria or bed
nets are showing up in different places,
or the fact that polio is on the run -- I'm going to leave Harley
with the punchline on that one, because that's where you guys
really rock -- is in large measure because of
our leadership.
It's not that we've been every dollar,
it's that we are investing the most in making sure it's on the
agenda across the board.
And let me just briefly talk about two of the categories,
and then we will open up for questions or comments -- from
you or comments from you.
The first is on HIV and AIDS, where we were fortunate to come
into office having in place something called PEPFAR,
which was established by President Bush,
and where we took a decision to build on that platform.
It was established as a relief program at the peak
of the epidemic.
We chose to continue to use it to put out the flames,
but to also start to use it as a tool for development.
That this epidemic, while we think we can bring
it under control, is, it's a long-term proposition.
It's all over the world, countries and communities need
to be able to deal with it on a sustained basis.
So we have done quite a lot to expand our response,
to help countries and communities build the capacity
they need to manage it, to work with partners to
ensure that they are investing more in this.
And one of the great gains we've seen in the global,
the fight against global AIDS is a number of countries
in the poorest parts of the world have stepped up in
profoundly powerful ways, putting more resources,
training more health workers, appointing really serious,
capable, public health leaders.
A combination of things, including vision and aspiration,
and a determination on the part of the President allowed us on
World AIDS Day to see him make an announcement of
major importance.
This was one also echoed by Secretary Clinton in a speech
she gave out at NIH, which was that it's now possible to think
about an AIDS-free generation.
That that's actually in sight.
(applause)
And we were able to announce and the President laid
out a big and bigger push on our part on the prevention side.
Because what we have learned is treatment is critically
important, but that if you really push across the spectrum
on prevention, you shrink the number of infections you have in
the first place.
So he announced new targets on every aspect of prevention.
There are five or six interventions that are key,
including increasing our treatment targets.
Our treatment targets are really significant.
We said we would go up to six million people.
That means that the United States is keeping six million
people with HIV alive.
That's a long-term commitment.
The exciting thing is that we've learned in the last couple of
years that treatment contributes to prevention because it reduces
the spread of the infection by those that are under treatment
but infected.
So we've kind of got this force multiplier at the
treatment end of the spectrum, and we think we will have great
results to report.
So that's kind of, global AIDS is in an extraordinary place.
This summer we will have an extraordinary event,
the International AIDS Conference will take place
here in July, it just be a small deal,
30,000 people coming into Washington,
D.C. from all over the world, but it's going to be a big
event for us.
It's the first time it has been held in the United States
in 22 years.
Part of the reason for that is the lifting of the HIV entry ban
early in this Administration.
(applause)
So we hope you will watch that,
and one thing you should all be aware of that I think is going
to be profound, is that the AIDS quilt will be back on the Mall,
this summer.
So that's going to be important.
Child survival is something the U.S.
has worked on historically for a long time, and again,
there's always been strong support from Congress and
obviously groups like your own.
Here as well there are tremendous gains.
Child mortality around the world has dropped 70 percent over the
last 50 years.
That's a big deal.
We've learned a lot, also, about what interventions work,
and my brain will handle the technical answers on this.
(laughter)
But we've got an opportunity now,
which we hope to seize in June, and starting off with a kind of
public social media campaign called Every Child Deserves a
Fifth Birthday, where you are able on the USAID website to
upload a picture of yourself at age five, and join the campaign.
But where we working with UNICEF and others will be holding,
led by USAID, a call to action in June,
which is to make a major push on ending preventible child deaths.
There's a lot that we know.
If we organize ourselves, if we kind of align our resources,
if we focus on the key interventions that work,
we think extraordinary things can be achieved over
the next decade.
We're going to make a big push on that.
One of the exciting things consistent with this point about
governments all over the world stepping up is there are five
countries around the world that carry the biggest
disease burden.
And traditionally we've been in a mode where you had donors and
beneficiaries, where we more or less kind of compensated.
We would give them a lot of assistance for all
the right reasons, to help address that burden.
Two of those countries, Ethiopia and India,
will be co-convenors of the conference,
because they are saying this is our problem,
we want and appreciate your support,
but we're going to put the political skin in the game,
in fact we are putting the political skin in the game to
take this on as our responsibility.
That's a huge development for global development,
but it's also going to have a huge impact on the numbers.
So that will be in June.
On polio, I will just say -- and I give full
credit to Harley who's far more expert in polio than I,
who told me today that Nigeria is the only country in
the world that reported polio cases this week.
With only six new cases reported in the north,
India has not had a case of wild polio virus as opposed to tamed
-- (laughter) -- since January 2011,
and has interrupted the transmission of indigenous
wild polio virus.
That's one of the hardest places in the world to control this
disease, and I say with all sincerity that that victory
would not be on this piece of paper if it wasn't for the work
that all of you do.
So you should feel extremely proud that you are fighting and
beating one of the most devastating diseases we've
seen in history.
So we thank you for that.
(applause)
And with that, I'm going to cease talking and ask
if there are questions we can answer or comments you may have,
and both Harley and I are happy to take them.
And when you see me walk out in about seven or eight minutes,
I apologize because it will look rude,
but the intention is completely otherwise.
But please, I think we had a question here.
Glynis Long: Glynis Long with the Washington,
D.C. Rotary Club.
We're just starting a new project with Rotary named Future
Vision, and it's to put in breast cancer centers in
countries for underserved women.
Starting with Turkey, we're going to Accra, Ghana,
we will be in Nigeria, we're going to Kosovo.
So just to let you know.
And I'm also rude, I know you you're going to run out of here,
so -- (laughter) I'm going to give you my card, I'm not proud.
(laughter)
Gayle Smith: Thank you.
Thank you.
That's --
Glynis Long: We've done a lot of research on your Global
Health when we were putting this all together --
Gayle Smith: Oh, great.
Glynis long: Yeah, you guys --
Gayle Smith: I think the thing that will help a lot in
that is a lot of the countries you mentioned there are
countries that have really built up their capacity.
You know, Ghana's income level has shifted dramatically,
and they've got a foundation to build on,
and the potential to not only do greater detection,
but then also to start to build platforms for actually
responding to breast cancer and other noninfectious diseases.
So that's great.
That's great.
And I think your card's like really totally classy,
it's kind of -- I like the ruffled edges here.
(laughter)
A Speaker: Could we have speakers who have
questions come to microphones for the live streaming?
Thank you.
Amy Kay: Hi, I'm Amy Kay, I'm a
former Rotary Peace Fellow, and I'm currently working
on HIV in the Middle East and North Africa.
I'm very excited about IAC.
I think some great thing are going to happen,
and I'm hoping some very interesting policy
will be presented.
PEPFAR has, of course, been a great program focused
on high-prevalence countries, but I'm wondering what the
approach will be, thinking about prevention, high risk,
low prevalence and some of the funding flows that have
been taking place in terms of dropping off,
what your new approach is in terms of looking at HIV.
I know that treatment is important,
but in some of the regions and areas that I work in,
there's low prevalence and therefore low priority,
which I don't think is the appropriate approach,
especially for women living with HIV.
Gayle Smith: That's a good question.
Let me just say something about funding.
There, you refer to decreasing funding.
There's a very slight decrease.
Global health and HIV/AIDS in particular is by far the biggest
contribution we make in foreign assistance.
There's also, we made a decision to transfer some amount which we
will be doing of our bilateral funding to the global fund for
AIDS, TB, and malaria.
Part of that is because one of the things we do really well as
the United States is leverage.
So that when we say we're putting X amount of money into
this multilateral pot, our diplomats and other
officials go around the world and say, well, hello,
foreign minister so-and-so, how much are you putting into
this multilateral pot?
And we've got a really, really good and proven track
record on leveraging anywhere from three to five to one when
the United States says we're going to step up and
do something.
We're very good at getting others to do it.
So that's money that will still go to HIV and AIDS,
but we think will force multiply.
The other thing is that because of extraordinary efficiencies in
the cost of HIV treatment coming down,
fixing some of our own systems which I think now are more
efficient and will continue to be more efficient than they have
in the past, the unit costs of our programs have come down.
So we're able to do more with the same dollars.
Now, your question on countries where prevalence is not high is
a good one.
I think that the view of PEPFAR has been since the beginning not
to exclude those, but to focus on those countries where the
epidemic was of such dimensions that if it was not brought under
control and brought to -- this sounds horrible,
but manageable levels, if you know what I mean,
levels where you can treat those that are infected,
you can get a handle on the prevention and prevent the kind
of wildfire, that we would see a tremendous number of deaths and
a net loss, particularly in the world's poorest countries,
that would be hard to recover from for decades.
PEPFAR is always looking at how the disease pattern works,
and Harley may want to say more about this in order to say,
well, you know what, it's kind of,
the numbers show that it's coming down over here but we've
got more over here than we thought so that we should
move that way.
As well as the global fund is a mechanism that works all
over the world.
So we don't, we're not discounting the importance of
HIV and AIDS in middle income countries or countries where it
is of lower prevalence, we're putting a higher premium
on poorer countries where the prevalence is so high that it's
a danger not just in terms of the number of people affected,
but the other impacts of the epidemic.
But I think --
Harley Feldbaum: I'd only add that I've seen PEPFAR doing
terrific work on being data driven and using the data to
target the epidemic, and that's obviously, as Gayle, said,
going to focus on the biggest burdens of the disease,
but it's also going to lead you to focus on the high-risk
populations even in countries that don't have large burdens,
and that's going to maintain, you know, among women,
among other high-risk groups.
That focus is going to stay there.
Ezra Teshome: Good morning.
Gayle Smith: Good morning.
Ezra Teshome: My name is Ezra Tashome,
I'm from Seattle, Washington.
Gayle Smith: Tanasoli.
Ezra Teshome: Tanasoli.
(laughter)
My question to you is you eloquently gave us the good
news about polio, and polio, somehow the funding is going to
drive, with all the funding cuts that our government and others
are having is there any commitment from the U.S.
government to continue to fund the funding for polio?
Because even though we're that close,
we need more money now than ever.
Gayle Smith: Yeah, I think that's a good question,
and we have a commitment to polio that we will maintain.
We also in this area work with a lot of private organizations,
obviously the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has been a very
big player in this space, UNICEF is doing a fair amount and
intending to do more.
So in addition to trying to protect our own contributions,
we are always doing that leveraging thing.
We're always doing also a division of labor,
where we might say, look, here's what we're doing on
HIV and AIDS.
For example, there is a big push now on noninfectious or
noncommunicable diseases.
We think that's critically important.
We're pushing some other donors to say,
you need to do more there because we're covering this.
But we very much have got our eye on polio,
because I think you're absolutely right.
Because of the progress this would be a terrible moment for
the international community to step back.
And I'm going to gradually move this way.
Audience Member: Okay, just I have a quick
question about Cuba.
Gayle Smith: Cuba.
Oh, I'm sure that will be an easy one.
Yes.
(laughter)
Audience member: We're not asking for any money to be sent there,
but I've been traveling there for several years on a
humanitarian visit to just spend our own money and help
humanitarians there, senior citizens,
and it's constantly getting harder to get a humanitarian
license through the Treasury Department,
and so can you comment on that?
Gayle Smith: I can't comment on the specifics,
but I can tell you that I would be happy to reach out to my
colleagues who work the Western Hemisphere and those issues and
follow up on this for you.
Audience member: I'd appreciate that.
Gayle Smith: Sure.
I'm happy to do it.
My brain will now take over while my body moves --
(laughter) (applause)
Gayle Smith: Thank you.
Harley Feldbaum: Gayle is actually the brain, the heart,
and the soul of our development and global health operation
here, in case you -- as I'm sure was apparent.
And I would just add on the polio work, you know,
in terms of resources, the resources of Rotary for 25 years
and over a million people volunteering their time and
personal resources for it has just been outstanding.
So there was some applause before,
but we really applaud you for your work on polio.
(applause)
So other questions I'd be happy to help as
best I can.
Kristin Post: Hi, I'm Kristin Post,
I'm from the D.C. community.
When we talked about the projects for breast cancer,
the response was, well, those countries are really
well set up, they have now the infrastructure to support that,
and I think that's one of the things that we see with NGOs,
organizations that want to go help,
they often try to get the least supported populations,
but then there's no government there,
infrastructure there to help the sustainability.
And I think USAID has seen that as well.
So I'm just wondering if you could comment more about what
you're doing and what you would recommend for international
organizations with good hearts in that.
I think there's been a lot of discussion about what to
do with government, how to work with them,
so if you can give us some examples of what to do.
Harley Feldbaum: That's a tall order.
I think the question's a good one, though.
It's how do you create sustainability in global
health efforts by getting the governments themselves to take
on those efforts.
And I think there's a range of options,
depending on which disease, which issue you're working on.
You know, if you're in the 1980s and you're thinking about HIV,
the question of working with governments is a difficult one.
Governments, it's a highly stigmatized disease,
and you really need to build up in terms of reducing the social
stigma, in terms of working with the populations affected,
to get to the point where governments are going to take
that on.
And look at where we have come with this.
We now have, you know, an AIDS ribbon hanging on
the White House every World AIDS Day.
You know, we have presidents and families talking about it.
And at that point now we're thinking about how do we bring
African governments which have been, you know,
especially South Africa but also Botswana and Namibia,
other governments really stepping up and taking on more
shared responsibility for the have HIV/AIDS epidemic,
which is just marvelous.
It will make the programs better,
it will make them more financially sustainable.
There are other issues, though, that are tougher that
don't have that kind of attention in some countries.
Some of the noncommunicable diseases,
maybe neglected tropical diseases,
and in those cases I think you need to, you know,
go back a little bit further and while working on humanitarian
relief in those populations also seek to work on the policy realm
to build up the support so efforts ultimately can be more
sustainable and governments adopt them.
So I don't think it's a one-size-fits-all solution,
and I think you see that through,
I think you see that through everyone's work.
Through the Gates Foundation work, through your work,
through the work of USAID, and other parts of the U.S.
government seeking to both address where the largest
burdens of disease are, address where the most needy populations
that we really can serve to elevate those problems are,
and then working on country sustainability and country
ownership at the same time.
Kevin Melton: Hi, my name's Kevin Melton,
I'm a former Peace Fellow as well.
Just returned from Afghanistan, spent 28 months,
I worked for USAID and for DOD.
Speaking of sustainability, one of the things, obviously,
we're looking at there is sustainability, of course,
but also that goes back to the question of interagency.
And I think when we talk about Afghanistan we've seen literally
the pot of spaghetti thrown at the problem.
And I think that goes back into funding, resources, personnel,
et cetera.
And so I want to ask what from the NSC's point of view are we
doing interagency-wise to prepare ourselves better for,
you know, looking at vulnerable populations and states where we
can't just turn towards the government, per se,
to resolve some of the issues that affect our
national security.
Harley Feldbaum: That's a great question.
First, thanks for your service.
You know, there are a lot of ways to express public service,
and so thank you for yours in Afghanistan.
The Afghanistan question is way out of my lane,
so I'm not going to go too in depth there,
we've obviously made huge strides in terms of maternal
health, child health.
We were starting from a tough place,
and I think the sustainability of that's going to be,
it's going to be hard.
We'll have to see how it goes.
But I think on the health side we've actually done extremely
well in terms of working NGOs and the Afghan government.
Kevin Melton: That's very true.
Harley Feldbaum: Good.
No, I think that was our sense here.
I can only tell you as someone who's been on the National
Security staff for just a couple of months,
that on in terms of the interagency coordination and
particularly on the documents I've seen on Afghanistan,
just in the extraordinary degree of serious in terms of
presenting options that are well researched with
pro's and cons and enormous scope of interagency buy-in,
it is just something that the U.S. government
takes enormously seriously.
And when I came in here as a relatively new person I was
really heartened to see the seriousness with which we
proceed on this.
I know that's the expectation of, obviously, the entire
U.S. government.
I came from academia, before that I had some pretty tough
views on this stuff, and I was very, very pleased with that.
In terms of engaging countries where the governments themselves
aren't always helpful, we do do that.
We do a lot of -- we do HIV/AIDS support in Zimbabwe,
for instance, where we don't always agree with
that government.
We do it through either NGOs or we do it through helpful
branches of the Department of Health where we think we have
input and impact, and the funds are not distributed to
other causes.
And you see that with Burma now as well or Myanmar,
where we've maintained a low-level presence for a long
time and now there's this terrific opening up and
opportunity for impact.
So we seek to engage and push, and where,
as the President said, people will walk the walk of
peace, we will certainly be behind them on that.
Kevin Melton: Thank you.
Harley Feldbaum: Any other questions?
Good.
Well, thank you so much for being here, and really,
congratulations on your ambassadorial work in polio
and everywhere else.
So thank you.
(applause)
Victoria McCullough: All right.
While waiting on our next speaker,
I want to remind folks that we have -- this is all live
streamed again today, so there's a lot of activity happening sort
of out and around this meeting, including -- so you can, folks,
any of your friends, family can watch on WhiteHouse.gov/live.
We're also going to be tweeting in the lunch hour with
@JonCarson44, my boss.
He'll be there and we'll have some folks,
Rotary members from across the country,
we'll be tweeting with them and hopefully getting them engaged
in the discussion that's happening here and now.
So those are a couple of opportunities.
We also encourage you while you're here -- I know that this
is actually sort of a, this room is actually a cone of silence,
so you probably noticed that you can't get cell service in here,
probably can't tweet and do all that other stuff.
So that's just part of it, but if you can,
as you move around during lunch we encourage you to tweet and
tell sort of about how the morning went.
If you're Facebookers you can also hop on Facebook and let
folks know that you're here and what maybe your favorite part of
the day has been.
But we really encourage you while you're here to just tell
the story about things that maybe surprised you and what
your experience was like.
And we think that it's just really important that not only
do you guys really take this knowledge and use it and apply
it to the programs that you're running and volunteering in,
but that you spread this among the rest of the
Rotary membership.
So we think that's a really important part of it.
With that, I also want to -- I'm going to remind folks we have
another speaker coming up from Department of State,
I believe she's en route now, and then we'll have one more
speaker before we break for lunch,
and I'll hop on right before the lunch and kind of explain
the logistics of actually, of getting up to,
getting out to lunch.
So we'll do that.
So if you guys will hang tight, we'll actually,
we'll get started here in -- back started here in the next
couple of minutes.
So thank you.
All right, guys, I'm excited.
I was really excited about Gayle,
I know that I keep saying this, but I'm generally excited about
you guys being here and excited about our speakers.
So we're really fired up.
But I'm really pleased to introduce -- we have with us
today Deputy Assistant Secretary Robin Lerner,
who is from Department of State, and we're excited to
have her here.
Robin.
(applause)
Deputy Assistant Secretary Robin Lerner: Good morning.
Audience members: Good morning.
Deputy Assistant Secretary Robin Lerner: So you're still
awake, right?
It's not after lunch, so we're good.
This is much more formal than I would normally want to be,
be my platform for talking with you all,
but it is a real honor and pleasure to be here.
I'm glad that I could come.
Rotary is a huge partner of ours.
I am the Deputy Assistant Secretary for private sector
exchange, which means nothing to anyone, so I will describe it.
(laughter)
I come from the Bureau of Education and Cultural
Affairs over at the Department of State,
and we are basically the public diplomacy bureau,
and we, one of our mainstays is exchanges.
And while we have a couple of directorates that really deal
with grants programs: Academic, professional and cultural,
we are a scrappy little unit that works with the private
sector or private industry sponsors to bring over over
300,000 exchange participants to the United States every year.
So when I say private sector, it's nonprofits like Rotary,
and it's also for-profit sponsor organizations.
It's also universities, it's local school districts,
it's state and local government.
It's all kinds of American institutions that partner with
us to bring over these wonderful exchange visitors
into 15 different categories of exchanges.
So this J-1 visa, a lot of people hear about the J-1 visa,
that's our cultural visa.
You may not know that there are these 15 categories where we can
have wonderful students and professionals come over as
research scholars, professors, short-term scholars, teachers,
residents, medical residents, high school students.
We have college and university students,
it goes on and on from there.
Au pairs, there's a lot of different things,
I'm probably not remembering all of them.
And through these exchanges we really build this what is the
mainstay of public diplomacy, and the Fulbright-Hays Act which
sort of authorizes all this activity,
that it's real cultural exchange,
and it's really fantastic to have such a wide,
diverse body of American institutions and organizations
that work with us on cultural exchange.
So Rotary is a huge partner of ours,
especially in the high school program.
And it's not just an honor to be here because you work so much
with us, it's because Rotary really embodies this idea of
reciprocity and exchanges, bringing people here,
and Americans going overseas, but also understanding at its
core what is a cultural exchange.
I came to this office -- I'm the Deputy Assistant Secretary,
I've been here for two months now,
so I feel like a real veteran -- (laughter) But I came from the
Hill, where I was working for Senator Kerry as, he's,
for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee where he is actually
the Chairman, and I worked there for three years,
and I covered public diplomacy for him.
And part of what I was doing when I was looking from
the Hill perspective was how well our exchange programs are
meeting the mission of cultural exchange,
but where is there abuse?
Because abuse happens in these visas.
Especially when you have, while we have partners of wide
diverse and array of partners, we don't know exactly what
everybody's doing all the time.
And some, unfortunately some of our partners don't understand
this centrality of the cultural component very well.
Sometimes they see an opportunity to have interns come
from company X in country X, and bring them over here,
and they're just a passthrough and they really don't pay
attention to what's going on.
We, when I was on the Hill I noticed that there was a little
bit too much of that going on, and so I was asked to come over
and really have the chance to look at our programs and see
where there needs to be reform.
And I mention that because high school is included in that,
but it's that cultural side where we noticed some of the
greatest weaknesses, and that doesn't seem to be happening
with our Rotary exchanges.
That this idea of volunteerism that is so central to Rotary,
the idea of the reciprocity, the idea that this is kind of
a privilege for people to come over,
and it's about sharing information
and sharing cultures.
So that's great.
And that's what we kind of need to do more of in our visa,
in our exchange visitor program.
And to do that, we have this plan in the next year,
throughout the rest of this year,
to actually look at programs like Rotary and the really
successful exchange programs we have and highlight them and
create a real vision around the kind of exchanges that we want
to do and that we are doing.
And I know all of you are here because you have some kind of
involvement in public engagement with the White House or with
government or with exchanges.
Today's from what I can, what I've been told,
today's sort of seminar is about private citizens being able to
engage with the government toward their goals,
furthering your own goals and your missions.
And we see ourselves as really being an office that does that.
Because there's, for our grants programs, our grants exchanges,
we have people in house in the State Department who really run
the exchanges, and they work with partners for the actual
program implementation.
So say it's a short-term leadership program for
journalists, and we'll have the State Department work with our
embassies to select journalists, and we do all the program
management of it, and then we work with partners to
create their actual program on the ground.
So there's a lot of interface with citizens.
There's a huge opportunity for citizen diplomacy there,
but it's at this end over here when you're implementing the
program, whereas with us, our engagement with American
institutions and organizations is really from the beginning.
We have all of these sponsors, which I already explained are
numerous and diverse, but they really work with partners in
other countries to identify individuals to come over and be
part of the program.
And to me that's just so exciting, because they are,
they have partners on the ground,
and right there there's an immediate connection between
where the participants are going to be placed and where they're
coming from.
And that, it's not just, you know, a transactional exchange,
it's they have partners, those are partners.
The partners have broad reach into the communities in which
they work to select individuals.
They have a real basis of understanding what's going on
in that community.
So they bridge with our sponsors,
who then take an exchange visitor and bring them into
the community that they work closely in.
And all that goes from there is huge.
So we see ourselves as working with American citizen diplomats,
you might say, from the start to the end.
And one of my goals is to really try to capture that more in what
we do centrally at the State Department.
We do, as I mentioned, we have some 300,000
exchange visitors that come over in all these
different categories.
We want to capture those when they go back home.
We want, all these individuals have just spent a significant
amount of time in the United States,
and they are going to go back and talk to their friends and
talk about their program, their experience here,
but also put themselves out as some kind of an expert on the
United States.
Which they should, because they've just spent from three
months to sometimes three years in our country,
meeting all of you, staying with families sometimes,
working alongside Americans and researchers,
teaching our students.
And they're going to go back and they're going to take everything
they learned while they were here and they're going to digest
it, and it's going to come out somehow through them.
And we hope that it comes out in a good way,
but even if it doesn't, everybody that they know
sees them as an expert on the United States.
So we would like to actually capture them more through alumni
groups and through more intentional outreach to them
because we have these embassies all over the world who do great
programs, I think probably some of you work closely with our
embassies, and we want to keep them in the fold when we
have great programs, when we want to do focus groups.
We want to, when we have to further,
we'd like to further explain what's going on in this great
country, here's that huge body of people who are sort of live,
live bait, as you would say.
So for Rotary, we, you all have been doing this,
we've worked closely with you, as I said,
on the high school exchanges.
What's great about Rotary is it's not just if your high
school program, you do a high school program.
It's not just having students come over and go to high school
and then they go home.
You fuse intentionality into it with volunteerism,
with social messages.
You don't take a profit, you're not doing this for a profit,
you're doing it for the exchange.
And that is so important, and so welcome.
We really want to take more of the elements that we see in the
Rotary exchanges and kind of build them out to
our broader vision.
And actually that is one of the things I'm going to be doing in
the next year, is looking at all of our different categories and
looking at what are the elements that are so central to a
successful cultural exchange and putting them out there for every
single category so there's more consistency across the board.
So while Rotary's special, we'd like everybody else to
be the same.
So we see that across the board.
(laughter)
So, let's see.
What else can I tell you?
Our, from my office, I don't know, a lot of you,
if you've worked in a high school exchange you would
interact with James over here, James Alexander.
He works with me on high school exchanges and does a lot of
communication and outreach with our sponsors.
And I think has already spoken three times this year to Rotary
conferences and seminars, and we're happy about that.
We'd like to keep up the communication.
That's what I think is sort of really an important thing that I
hope to do while I'm here, while I'm lucky enough to be a DAS,
in this position, is maintain communication.
I know that you all, when you're doing your stuff,
you observe things.
You observe maybe how our embassies are acting,
you observe how other high school exchanges are going.
You observe maybe just good ideas that you would like to
communicate back to the State Department,
and I'm here to tell you that we really welcome that.
We really want to hear back from those of you who are out in the
field who have the opportunity to see things in action.
Tell us how it's going.
Tell us how we're doing.
Give us your good ideas.
And I mentioned James because he already has a very good conduit.
You have a good conduit through James,
but we welcome that and we want to continue that.
Let's see.
I guess, oh, I guess I can say exactly which ones you spoke to.
He was at the Ohio-Erie Youth Exchange district meeting in
Charlotte, and the South Central Rotary Youth Exchange Conference
in Tulsa, and the North American Youth Exchange Network
in Anchorage.
So I don't know if any of you are from any of those places.
Yes, raise your hand high.
Who here knows James?
(laughter)
Good.
I mean, I have talking points and I can continue talking,
but I want to make sure that I am touching on things that are
of interest to all of you.
So I don't know if we have the chance to do question and
answer, but I'd be certainly happy to answer any questions or
hear any comments, please.
Audience member: If you'd like to know more about what we do,
once a year we have what we call Rotary UN,
United Nations in New York City, and so we have many of our
so-called champions, just average Rotarians
presenting their global and community projects.
So it's an all-day thing.
If you would like to go, you're invited.
Deputy Assistant Secretary Robin Lerner: Thank you.
That sounds great.
Audience member: Tell her the date.
Audience member: November 3rd.
Deputy Assistant Secretary Robin Lerner: November the 3rd.
Okay.
Audience member: Your outreach to your visitors is encouraging,
but I hope that next week you remember that the
Rotary exchange program is truly an exchange program.
We send probably three-quarters of all
American students overseas.
And there is a network which our State Department I think should
be involved with and concerned with, because on the ground,
our perspective is that we are much,
much more concerned with those we're hosting than those who are
representing us.
And from our experience, we have found out that for some reason
if we start doing something, the rest of the world
starts doing it.
So when we make any step to impede that exchange,
it also impedes our ability to go there.
Deputy Assistant Secretary Robin Lerner: Thank you.
Actually, reciprocity is a really important issue,
and I'm glad that you raised it.
It's really hard, isn't it, to get the same number of Americans
going overseas as we get here.
It's one of those things, and we'd really like to fix that.
We worry that we don't -- is that we don't focus
enough on that?
I think we have a lot of programs from government to
try to get students.
We've done a lot of bilats with different countries to encourage
scholarships and to encourage students to go overseas,
learn Chinese, go to Korea.
But there is, it's not happening as much as we'd really like to
see it happen.
And I'd like to know more about why.
I mean, I think a lot of people think about that.
There's a cost and expense to it,
but it's one of those things -- and I'm sure you all through
your clubs try to bring that message out of internationalism
and how important it is to go out and see the world.
We agree, and this is, I also wanted to mention
that's one of the special things about Rotary that you do,
it's not just one way with you, it's really two-way.
And that's incredibly important.
And I agree, we should be really looking at that from
the embassy side, how many students are going over to
particular countries and then seeing what they do,
what great things they do when they come back here.
Fary Moini: Fary Moini from La Jolla
Golden Triangle in San Diego Rotary Club.
I just wanted to make a comment how wonderful this program is
and the impact of this program on a few,
particularly with regard to women.
I'm working for ten years with Afghans in Afghanistan and I
tried many, many times to get approach to the women to somehow
to put some association together or something to work towards
women, and it's amazing because of your program there is two
ladies that came over here for 45 days,
and it's such a great impact on them because they went back and
they called me to come and help them to put their association
together, and it's doing a phenomenal job.
So thank you for that, and I hope you continue this program,
because the impact of coming and seeing what's going on and then
give them the idea on them going back and say okay,
the way they treat us is not right,
particularly regarding women, and it's changing.
Deputy Assistant Secretary Robin Lerner: Thank you for that.
That's wonderful to hear.
That's really important.
(applause) And when I worked for -- (applause) When I worked for
Chairman Kerry we worked very much on women's empowerment
issues in Afghanistan.
But obviously our Secretary of State and our President cares
greatly about the empowerment of women and girls,
and exchanges is such an opportunity for us to select
some to come over and even through short term like you say,
a short-term program can have a huge impact.
But I do have to laugh, I was, I was posted to our embassy in
Cairo, and we were, had a journalism program and
we were getting some editors in chief to go over and have a
good three-week program, and that's hard to do,
it's hard to get people to leave their jobs, the professionals,
senior professionals to come over,
but we got them to agree and we sent them over and they had this
great program in three different cities in America and they came
back, and we said how was it?
And first, of course, they complained about the food.
(laughter)
But then two things.
You Americans, your potholes are huge!
Your potholes are bigger than in Cairo.
They're huge.
They swallow our car.
Don't you fix your potholes?
And then it was, but we couldn't believe it,
people were stopping at red lights at midnight.
(laughter)
Everybody stopped at the red light!
There was nobody else, they're stopping at the red light!
But come on, stopping at red lights because we have a rule
of law culture.
Yeah, the light is red, I'm going to wait.
So it's those little things that we never think -- we think that,
oh, they're going to take away this idea of, you know,
triple sourcing their information and protecting their
sources and things like that.
No, it was the potholes are huge and they stop at the red lights.
Which is why exchanges are so important.
And with high school, too, I mean, wow,
to get youngsters that are 15, 16 years old with everything
that goes about being a teenager, right,
it's complicated enough being a teenager,
but they're so impressionable, and everything is vivid, right.
Remember when things were so vivid to you because it was new?
It's hard to remember that, but there was a time.
And we have these students that are coming over and they're
living with American families.
And it's so complicated, a family is a complicated sort of
unit, and you bring in somebody else with language issues and
different culture and different expectations and their family
does it a different way, and so many opportunities
for misunderstanding, and somehow through the course
of nine months, they come to love each other,
it's like they've bonded through the difficulties,
and they never lose that bond with each other.
And that's why these high school exchanges are so important.
And then after -- then -- then what they do from that moment on
will forever be different.
And so when you take a professional and bring them
over, that's great, that's hopefully helping what
they do as a profession, but when you take the young
people, it changes the course of their lives.
And, you know, we do have issues with the high school program,
it's really hard to get hosts, as probably you all know,
and we -- the stage we're at UCA,
we have thought about that and we are trying -- we have
different ideas of how we can also help encourage
host families.
It's one of those things, and I don't know,
it's sort of a chicken and an egg thing,
but it's -- that's one of the vexing parts to the high school
exchange program that hopefully one day we'll try to figure out
how to make that part a little bit better so we can have more.
But it's not even necessary we need to have more,
we just need to do really well with the programs we have.
And because a lot of you do high school,
I have ideas of actually interacting with your high
school exchange students while they're here in the
United States.
I think most of them have no idea that they're -- that the
State Department has anything to do with them coming,
because they've never interacted with us.
But we actually sanction these programs and we do find them --
we do consider them under our umbrella of exchanges.
And so we've talked to some sponsors,
and I would love to further -- to follow up,
and James can as well, on ideas about how we could
actually implement that through -- you know,
I thought about essay contests and then that, you know,
I don't know, we could pay for it, maybe people can pay for it,
I don't know, so let's put the pay thing aside,
but a trip to Washington, D.C., doing web chats with them
or webinars.
Just stuff we can do to kind of let them know that you're even
more special, because the State Department knows you're here and
we're really glad.
And then that opportunity when they go back to have some
interaction with embassies, we think that would -- that's --
that's a nice perk to it all.
Thank you.
Todd Dayton: Todd Dayton from down --
Rotary Club in the Miami area.
And we're one of the few Rotary districts that are international
in the United States.
And one of the issues we have with our exchange students,
we have 11 of them inbound just out of our district,
and when they go over to the Bahamas,
which is part of my district, Lucaya area, Freeport,
getting them in and out, of course, with the United States,
it's certainly something that would be nice for us to figure
out a way to make that happen, because it's an important part
of their exchange when they're here in the United States.
The other thing that we're also a Beta test right now with one
of our close Rotary Club at Coral Gables that's doing a Beta
test on the corporate affiliate allowing,
because we've traditionally been members rather than corporations
are a member of Rotary, and it may be something that could be
latched into the exchanges going on of becoming hooked up
corporately with Rotary.
So when they do go back, there may be a corporate exchange that
goes on and a direct connection between our two countries with
corporations to work abroad in the United States.
So more a comment than a question,
but the one with the Bahamas, it's a big issue,
I'm trying to move that many students in the State of
Florida across borders, and I understand the Bahamas
have to be part of that as well, but the government, the U.S.
Government makes it a little difficult because they're here,
not in the Bahamas.
So thank you.
Robin Lerner: Okay.
Thank you.
No, we'll write that down and we'll look into that.
Yes.
Mary McCambridge: Hi, Cheryl.
I'm Mary McCambridge, I'm from district 5440,
which is Colorado and Wyoming and a couple of
pieces of other states.
We have been working very much recently with
the youth exchange.
We have 24 inbound, 23 outbound, and there has been some concern
-- actually we're also a host family for a Norwegian
student right now.
And I would love to have brought her this weekend,
but prom is this weekend, major drama.
Robin Lerner: Oh, gosh, yeah.
Audience: One of the concerns -- I'm happy to hear your
comments, because one of the things we've been concerned
about is after that horrible exchange program got aired,
not Rotary, but some of the others,
we've been concerned about Department of State requirements
going -- the paper work, the cost and everything going up,
up, up, and so our people are concerned about whether the
program is in jeopardy.
So I'm just wondering if you can address that.
And our people went to Alaska and probably saw James there,
so they loved the conference, but we're concerned about
continuity of the program.
Robin Lerner: Yeah.
No, it's a really good point.
And you know, I -- without knowing the specifics of the
cost and things that you're concerned about,
I can say that we have looked closely at the high school
exchange program, and clearly the rule from 2010 established
new requirements, and we will probably have
more new requirements.
The health safety welfare of the exchange participants is really
paramount, and I know that you all know that and you -- you do
everything you can, but we have got to have consistency across
the board, because not everyone is doing the same thing.
And with that number of students that come and having, you know,
outside entities, as I was saying before,
we can't control what they're doing, we try very hard,
we have to regulate them.
And I did a call not long ago with the high school sponsors
where I talked about our vision for the program, and of course,
one of the big things that comes up is fingerprinting versus
criminal background checks, things that I know are really of
concern to high school sponsors, because you don't want to
criminalize the host families with fingerprinting,
and we're not even sure -- we don't have the authority at the
moment to do so, and we're not even sure that that would bring
us the right thing, but we do know that some sponsors have --
they have compliance units that pour over criminal background
checks that go way above and beyond, and others that don't.
And so one of my points in my phone call was I can't regulate
every vulnerability out of this program,
we need sponsors to -- through their industry kind of umbrellas
to make commitments themselves.
And I encourage you all through Rotary, you know, headquarters,
to -- I don't want to say pressure,
but kind of really heavily engage with other sponsors.
I know that can be really hard, and there's reticence and
everybody does things differently and everybody has a
different model, but there are some things that industry should
-- needs to do itself.
And we will eventually get to rooting out the bad actors,
and we're working on that every day,
every day we're working on that, and we would rather be left with
a smaller pool of really good and strong ones.
But that takes some time, and I don't mean, you know,
that's a bureaucratic thing to say,
but it really does take time, because we have to really build
evidence and really understand, and there's a lot of back and
forth, and you don't want to get it wrong.
And I think it's really hard to when -- I mean, it's just,
you know, James, poor James is, you know,
he feels the pressure on this stuff,
because we -- our secretary has said zero tolerance for abuse.
And we -- things happened in the past,
and we want to deal with the present and the future,
and to do that, we have to really get the information that
we have in really good shape, but you have -- somebody said a
neighbor reports something about something that happened in a
home, well, that's really tough, they weren't in the home but
they saw something, what's going on, da, da, da,
we don't want to get things wrong,
we don't want to misaccuse people.
But that's a long way of saying that for some of this,
because of all that is unclear in situations and that the
disparity between how different sponsors actually conduct
themselves, we have to do some acrossed board.
And I know that we get a lot of complaints about the second home
visit, I don't know if that's what you're talking about,
but also I think for the grants programs,
I definitely cannot speak to that,
but there is greater and greater oversight from Congress over how
grants are done.
And monitoring and evaluation.
So you may be seeing some of that through there.
Anyway, I don't know how our time is.
Speaker: Yeah, I think that's perfect.
Are there any other questions?
Robin Lerner: So just to close to say it's -- I'm really
happy to see faces of people who are really working on exchanges
and already get it, you get that internationalism and you
understand the volunteerism and you get the cultural component.
So thank you for your great work,
and we hope to see you any time you're in D.C.,
give James a call.
(laughter) (applause)
Robin Lerner: You know, we can leave a
couple of cards for folks if people want them.
Victoria McCullough: All right, guys,
so we're -- we're kind of coming to the end of the
morning session.
But I'm excited to introduce my boss and our Director of Office
of Public Engagement, he's really sort of the reason
sort of the idea, this was his brain child to really think
about how -- what groups we could bring in and fill you in
on what we're doing, so he's especially excited to here.
This is more Jon Carson.
(applause)
Jon Carson: All right, well, good morning, everyone.
Audience: Good morning.
Jon Carson: How has the day been so far?
Audience: Great.
Jon Carson: Excellent.
Very glad to hear that.
And we have some fantastic folks who will be with you
this afternoon.
And as Victoria said, we've had other groups here
at the White House for our community leaders briefings,
but I have been particularly excited to have the Rotary Club
here, because there's few groups that have filled South Court
Auditorium who I have had so many personal opportunities to
see the incredible work that you do.
First of all, the Rotary Club gave me a scholarship when I was
in high school to go to college.
And as the first -- (applause).
So thank you.
As the first person in my family to go to college,
that meant a lot to me.
Second, I was a Peace Corps volunteer in Honduras and --
(applause).
I worked with a lot of different organizations that were trying
to make a difference on the ground in Honduras.
I worked primarily on water systems.
And the most rewarding experience that I had in my
entire two years there was an opportunity to work with the
Rotary Club of Franklin, Tennessee,
and the Rotary Club of Choluteca, Honduras,
and to see them come together and to see the work that they
did in a small little village by the name of Wal Libertod
just outside of Truinfo in Honduras, and for me,
it was such a lesson in seeing other models of development,
but getting the chance to see what difference that connection
made, the fact that we had people from the United States,
but working hand in hand with Rotary leaders in Honduras.
And I'm sure many of you experienced, you know,
the community leaders from Franklin, Tennessee,
didn't have a lot of in common with the community leaders in
Choluteca, but they had Rotary.
And I watched that instant bond come together and watched just
an incredible cultural exchange and watched an opportunity to
make the lives of a small village in Honduras better.
So I want to thank you for the work you do all around the world
making people's lives better and making those connections happen.
And I've taken that lesson with me in the work that I do now,
and so many of us here at the White House and in the
administration have been a part of service projects like these,
and the lesson for me is in everything government is doing,
we need to find partners like Rotary to be those boots on the
ground, to be those facilitators,
to be those connections.
And the final experience that I had,
a fellow Peace Corps classmate of mine who came in at the same
time was the recipients of one of your scholarships to study in
Argentina, and I got to see the difference that that
made in her life, that incredible opportunity.
She's actually with us here today, Laura Graham.
(applause).
So you've had a talk, you've had a chance to talk to the
President's top policy people, his Chief of Staff was here
earlier, Gayle Smith who is the President's top person on
development, later USAID Director Raj Shah will be coming
by, but the conversation I wanted to have was
about engagement.
I want to hear your stories and advice on how the federal
government can do a better job of connecting the resources that
you saw here today with the resources that you're doing,
how we can learn from what you're doing.
Rotary is such an incredible network,
and I hope that this is just the start of an even further
partnership in getting good things done and making
connections all across the world.
I'd also be happy to take a run at any policy questions that you
had that didn't get answered.
If I don't know the answer, we can find the person who does.
But you've ever just had that question I wonder what they're
thinking there at the White House, or why did they do this,
or what was the approach to that,
I will -- I will be happy to engage on any of those subjects.
So let's open it up, who wants to -- who wants to start out?
Jump -- yes, in the back.
Audience Member: (Inaudible) as we heard that by 2013,
our military is basically departing from Afghanistan.
My question is, what about the -- what's the commitment of our
government to the government of Afghanistan regarding education
and also health and the other issues which is not connected to
our military?
Jon Carson: The commitment to Afghanistan -- Afghanistan in
the last decade has -- most people I think focus on the
military presence, but in fact, Afghanistan has been the number
one largest recipient of support from our other programs,
from the State Department, from USAID,
and that commitment will remain.
But I will ask -- I will ask for the Rotary Club's help on you --
many of you have seen and been partners with the work that
USAID, that the State Department, that others do,
and have been supporters in the struggle to make sure that
funding for those programs remain.
Some of the strongest voices we've had in those debates about
what is the appropriate funding for international aid have come
actually from ex-military leaders who have seen that by
having a -- that by avoiding conflict,
we can both save lives and money in the long term,
but the Rotary voices across the country have been some of the
strongest in that debate.
So in a time of tight budgets, I would ask for all of your help
in that piece of this as well.
Audience Member: Thank you.
Ginger Taylor McDonald: My name is Ginger Taylor McDonald,
California district 5170.
And we've talked about education and the lack of funding and the
change that is occurring and certainly the problems we have
in the education system, but I'm going to use the word appalled.
When we start to do the stats on literacy,
it is just amazing of the population of children that
cannot read today.
In fact, one of our district governors is here from San Diego
area who did a specific grant, Rotary provides funding for
public image grants so that we can focus on specific projects
and build awareness about these concerns,
and in San Diego alone, which is a rather affluent area,
25% of the 4th graders cannot read,
a population of 3.1 million people, and of that,
one quarter of the parents cannot read.
What kind of programs is the government doing to really look
at this, because if we're looking at a large percentage
like that that is moving through the system,
obviously a good percentage of these children will never get
into the college programs, so what does our future look like
if we're not really addressing and helping this change.
I know Rotary is working very hard to improve this,
how to read programs, improve literacy, all types of efforts,
but I think we need a bigger arm,
I think we need the government to really focus on this,
because if we don't do something today,
tomorrow it will be too late.
Thank you.
Jon Carson: Well, Ginger, I'm really glad
you brought up education and asked that question.
When we get to this debate of what is the proper role of
government, what should we be focused on,
the President's mind, education is at the top of the list.
And I want to make clear that one thing he has stressed
throughout his time as President,
it isn't just about what government does,
he has called upon parents to take responsibility and be
actively involved in their children's lives and education.
We are coming at this from a couple different angles.
One angle is that all of you have seen that there
are partnerships, public/private partnerships,
nonprofit organizations like Rotary that are
making a tremendous difference on the ground.
And so we're trying to foster and share those ideas.
I think you would all probably not be surprised by how
difficult it can be sometimes to take a good idea that might be
happening in San Diego and make sure they've heard about
it in Philadelphia.
So your help in spreading those ideas.
But fundamentally at the end of the day, resources matter.
On the federal side, as we went into the Great Recession in 2009
and 2010, the Recovery Act filled a huge gap in a lot of
local school districts' funding, that -- that ended in 2011,
and we've seen just some very, very difficult decisions that
school districts are having to make.
I had a group of parents in my office last week from
Philadelphia, they have to send their kids to school with toilet
paper because the school district can't afford it.
So the President is going to continue to make this argument
that one of the fundamental roles for government is making
sure education support is there.
We are driving reform with it.
I would encourage you to take a look at the Race to
the Top Program.
Instead of just formula giving, spread out equally to all
schools, the President created a program that adds on top of that
competitive grants, which in the first few years,
were given out by state.
But starting this year, those will be available by
school district.
$550 million of Race To The Top grants.
And I would really encourage rotary to take a look at your
local school district, make sure they are applying for these
grants because non profits like rotary can be a partner in
applying for those Race To The Top grants.
So thank you for your great work in San Diego.
(applause)
Yes.
Lee Bowles: Thank you.
I believe that we all know that we are here today -- excuse me
Lee Bowles.
I am from Tennessee, district 6760.
We are here today because rotary is a volunteer army.
And if you give us a task, we can make great things happen.
What I personally would like to see from the administration,
what the government's role is in my mind is give us a
project wish list.
Give us a task list.
By example, our club, our club in Lewisburg,
worked on the same Honduras water project that you spoke of.
Jon Carson: Yes.
Lee Bowles: It is a great project.
The volunteers that went down there came back to our club and
talked and said, there is such a problem with housing.
For I believe it was $5,000, we can build a home.
And it is so easy for us to raise that little bit amount of
money, and we tacked that project on to the infrastructure
project that was going on.
And we built a home.
And we plan to do that every year.
That is such a small project that I think all of the clubs
around the globe would say that is a little thing that
we can do.
And I would like from the government to say,
these are the issues, literacy, global health, all of them.
Here is a little issue.
It will cost you $2,000, $10,000.
Whatever the price tag is.
And say this is how you do it.
Lay out a study plan for us of what your wish list is,
because I know we can help you accomplish it.
Jon Carson: Well, thank you, Lee.
I hope you have a pen with you because I have a list for you.
(laughter) (inaudible) And well, I am going to leave a stack of
my cards too so you can all grab them.
But, there is an interesting thing going on in the
world right now.
Theoretically, everything the government does,
everything rotary does, everything non profits do,
theoretically, you could find it all in one search on Google.
But despite that, nobody seems to know what is going on.
And I am sure you have all experienced this.
I think we live in a world where we are surrounded by
information, but because there is so much we only trust what
comes to us from a trusted source.
And rotary is that trusted source in your community.
So I would challenge you, wherever your club is to find
out how the federal government can be a partner in the issues
you are working on.
Because this President has made clear to his
entire administration, we can't do it alone.
We need to form these partnerships.
So Raj Shah who is here this afternoon,
has made this a huge focus.
You are all aware I am sure as important as that federal
investment in international aid is,
the private sector and non profits does far more.
And so he wants to find ways to be partners.
Also, this afternoon you are going to hear from Jonathan
Greenblatt who runs our White House Office Of
Social Innovation.
Where we are trying to find those specific stories
and lift them up.
One really interesting idea that he has pioneered is,
is you know usually what government does is gives you a
grant, and then the organization goes out and does the job.
They have sort of turned that on it's head with a model that they
are testing where it is, instead of just giving
someone the money, it is a grant for success.
So a local group, has to actually put the
capital up front.
But if they achieve a measurable goal,
whether it be on literacy or development,
the government then pays for success.
It is modeled after something that was done in the UK,
really turns on it's head the incentives that you
normally see.
So shoot me an email.
My email address is on my card here.
I will leave a stack of them.
And whatever your issue is, we would love to help you find that
federal agency that could be a partner.
Let's go -- thank you.
Audience member: Hi, Jon, we met before.
Jon Carson: Yeah.
Audience member: I met you at, at ours, at our rotary club.
This is what and I tried to email you a couple of times.
But any way, this is what I wanted to discuss with you.
We did, we ran a community center in Southeast Washington
and we did a survey of children from age 12 to 21 about the
impact of violence on the youth.
And it was a random survey.
It was 29 children involved and they give you the statistics,
the major ones.
Every one of these children had been impacted by a violent act
of some point.
Most of them two.
But the really alarming statistic was that ten of these
children had actually witnessed a murder.
But yet when it came time for an intervention,
for programs to come in, there is a therapist, psychologist,
or mental health professional, even a member of the clergy,
there was no intervention except what we did.
This is going on all over America, Jon.
Gun violence is killing young people.
In Chicago, you know, on St. Patrick's Day,
49 people shot.
In one weekend, 7 people murdered and
one six-year-old child.
Yet we don't come up with a comprehensive plan.
And what I am going, what I am going to suggest is
that the comprehensive plan, we need to get away from the
rhetoric of Second Amendment issues and talk about what is
really causing the gun violence.
Because the minute we start talking about these issues,
then there is that those that start arguing about Second
Amendment issues and we get away from what we really
should be doing.
And I really would like to meet you and talk with
you about that.
Jon Carson: Excellent.
Let's, let's talk right after.
And thank you for your work here in Washington.
Just -- and it reminds me of another program that I would
like to make sure you all take a look at.
How many here this afternoon are going to be our Champions Of
Change that we are honoring?
All right.
This afternoon -- (applause) -- as we honor our White House
Champions Of Change, I would ask you all to take a look at some
of the past champions that we have honored.
Because just a couple of weeks ago,
we had a dozen leaders here in preventing youth violence.
And so what we are trying to do and Jonathan Greenblatt who
is here this afternoon, his office is leading this.
Is lift up those best examples so groups like rotary can help
spread those good ideas and make those connections.
Audience member: Thank you, Jon.
Jon Carson: Thank you.
Stephen Beer: Hi, Jon.
My name is Stephen Beer.
I am a member of the Rotary Club of Innsbrook
in Richmond, Virginia.
And I would like to comment that a lot of the service projects
and humanitarian efforts of rotary are facilitated by local
leaders in the communities we serve who are political leaders,
like mayors, chiefs of police, et cetera.
I was in an exchange in Germany this past year and the Rotarians
were proud that their Chancellor Englan Merkle was a Rotarian and
some other leaders in their Bundestag were rotarians.
And I would like to comment, make this recommendation that
more of our leaders in Washington who would become
rotarians so we can do more of the right idea.
Jon Carson: I like that idea.
(applause)
Stephen Beer: So we can spread the word.
(applause)
Jon Carson: You should know that
my friend Laura has been trying to recruit me.
So -- (laughter) -- I think I am going to have take her up
on it now.
Terry Allen: Wait a minute.
There is something called the four way test, folks.
(laughter)
I am Terry Allen.
I am one of the water boys from District 6360 in Michigan.
We have worked with USAID on one of the collaboration grants done
in the Dominican Republic, and I wanted to commend those
folks for that project.
I also wanted to bring up and point out a very successful
military project, Operation Hand Clasp with the US Navy which has
been very successful in helping to get clean water out into the
Third World and also provides civic action opportunities
for the troops.
And suggest that you might if there aren't already programs
like that in the other branches of the service,
I am from the Army myself, I would like to see that sort
of thing there.
So thank you.
Jon Carson: Terry, can I ask you a question?
Have you been successful in working with other rotary --
making connections between USAID, the military,
and other rotary clubs?
Terry Allen: Oh, yes.
Oh, yes, yeah.
We worked with other districts in Michigan.
We worked with districts down in the -- district in
the Dominican Republic.
We have taken groups of folks down there to see the project
and, and make them aware of it.
Over 250 presentations at this point to rotary clubs and
churches and others.
So we are making a lot of connections.
Jon Carson: That is fantastic.
And it goes to a point that I continue to see,
I am sure that Operation Hand Clasp has a wonderful website.
I am going to take a look at it, maybe I will even tweet it out.
But even in this day and age of on line media,
which I think is so important, it is the person by person
introductions, it is taking people down to see the project.
That at the end of the day hasn't changed about how you get
people involved.
So thank you, Terri, for your work in Michigan.
Yes.
Bonnie Sirower: Good morning.
I am Bonnie Sirower from 7490 in Northern New Jersey.
We used to have in our area, an armory food bank,
food pantry for the families of military who are in military
service as well as those who are veterans or who have returned
and it was closed.
We took it over.
But we are finding that this is happening in other areas of the
world and of the country where the military families are coming
back and/or the families are there and the spouses are
overseas and they don't have access.
Is there some way we can work together better throughout the
country, to provide services to these veterans and reach out to
the military families?
Jon Carson: Yes, absolutely.
First of all can I ask, how many other rotarians here have worked
on food bank issues in your local area?
So it is fairly popular.
And it is devastating to hear that some of the population,
most in need of this support, frankly homelessness issues are
our returning vets.
So the First Lady has taken this on along with Let's Move as her
top two issues and has started a program called Joining Forces.
It is closely coordinated with the Department Of
Veteran Affairs.
It is closely coordinated with the Department of Defense,
but also with Veterans Service Organizations across
the country.
So I will tweet this out as well but take a look at
JoiningForces.Gov.
We have a number of leaders from the military actually here in
the First Lady's team who are helping make these connections.
And the project that you are talking about is exactly the
kind of thing that they are trying to foster.
So thank you for your great work in New Jersey as well.
Jerry Evans: Jerry Evans, District 7610,
just south of here a couple of miles.
The Office Of Public Engagement seems to me to
be an ideal location to put a person, let's say,
a rotary contact person so we could call one place,
in this wonderful city of ours, and tell them hey, look,
this is an idea that we think might work.
Can you give us somebody in the organization here which is much
larger than ours?
A contact person that, that you have gone through
and found somebody.
Hey, maybe this person can help you.
Is that an idea?
Jon Carson: It is a great idea, Jerry.
And I think you have already got a big fan here in Victoria
McCullough who has been MC'ing today.
And I think what works best, because this,
I will be honest with you, this is,
this is a challenge that we face.
We have a country of 310 million,
and I have got a team of 20 people.
(laughter)
I have one person in charge of youth outreach.
Now, we worked with the agencies.
Each agency has it's outreach team.
USAID.
Dr. Raj Shah who is here this afternoon.
He has an outreach team and they focus on international issues
and development issues obviously.
The Department of Defense has it's outreach team.
But those are all on issue areas.
But rotary covers so many.
So I think what we can do is first of all I will leave my
cards, and Victoria has given you her contact information.
But we have a great working relationship with your national
and international staff as well.
And I think through that conduit can keep this communication
going and connect you to people like Robin who is here from the
State Department, or Dr. Shah's team on individual ideas.
How does that sound?
Jerry Evans: That sounds fine,
I was actually very interested to see what Dr. ou had to say,
because he had touched on something that I worked with.
Jon Carson: Yes.
Jerry Evans: But just touched on it.
And I came up afterwards and I asked him, and I said, well,
this is fine.
Do you do this?
He said, well, yeah, we do that.
Well, who do I contact?
He said, I have no idea and I didn't even know it was a
department that existed.
Jon Carson: Exactly.
And again he probably has a lovely website, but until,
until you make the personal connection,
and that is what I think rotary can help us do.
I hope you all are leaving today with,
I am hoping and guessing that you all have like three or four
things that you know that person back at your local district who
the be excited to find out they can be a part of.
So thank you, Jerry.
Kristin Post: Hi, I am Kristin Post.
I am the President of Loras Club.
So if you have been waiting for a personal invitation from the
President, please join us at the happy hour club.
But what, what I am impressed with is through the day's
speakers, is we have, everybody seems so open to what can we do?
What can the federal government do to help you which actually is
surprising to say as an American citizen I am really
happy to see that.
But, but I wonder if this is the administration culture.
There is hopefully everybody will have four more years,
but what we have seen say in Afghanistan is that you know it
takes a long time to get things to take hold and to be a part of
the culture.
And so I just wonder if this weren't the case, if,
if the administration were to change,
are we going to see these great people who are so willing to
reach out to us now go away and in the culture of reaching
out go away?
And what are you doing to change things in DC to make sure that
clubs can continue to reach out to you?
Jon Carson: Well, Kristin, I,
I don't get involved in the political side.
But I would say that this is a pervasive part of the Obama
Administration culture.
It is, I think part of it was the President himself and the
style of management that he has.
He -- you have probably heard us say,
we don't believe that Washington has a monopoly on the best
ideas, but we really take that seriously.
And the team that he brought in, as you saw,
you have seen many of them today,
came from so many diverse walks of life.
But I think also, it is, it is two other things.
First, we came in here, frankly, as the country was going
through an incredibly, incredibly difficult time.
And so just any assumption you had about how things worked and
how they were supposed to work were kind of thrown out
the window.
And I think the country has been going through that too.
I think people value their communities more.
They value service more.
They, what we have seen is that Americans at a time like this,
they become perhaps a little less materialistic.
As what they gone, as what they have realized is what matters is
family, is community, is service.
We have seen and just a couple of concrete examples of that.
Americor, right now, we have slots for 85,000
positions in Americor.
Do you know we are at 580,000 applicants every single year?
Think of that, over half a million Americans apply to be a
part of Americor every single year.
We have seen parts of the federal government that have
that on the ground connection and can partner with non profits
and partner with community based organizations,
can't keep up with the requests for people to be a part of what
they have going on.
And so have tried to find ways like at USAID and EPA to give
sort of people tool kits in a box so they can go out and be a
part of it.
So I think the short answer is yes.
I think you will see that continue because it is not just
a part of this administration.
I think it is a really good part of the,
of some of the lessons that we as Americans have learned going
through this recession.
Audience member: I was told I have the last question here.
Jon Carson: Okay.
We don't want anyone to miss your lunch.
Audience member: All right.
I like what we have done today and this is public engagement,
but really it starts from the top.
And, and if you look at the government,
and we have got a great government that works very hard
and everything like that.
We ask a lot of you and the people working here.
But we don't give them the time to be engaged with the public.
What people have asked you to do and become members of like that.
If from the top down, they really believed in public
engagement and they became Rotarians, lions,
chambers of commerce, they became involved in the
community, then a lot of the things that we are talking
about, would be there with you.
So public engagement, I think we need to look at that and say how
do we get the government more engaged with the public?
Jon Carson: Well, thank you.
And I think it is, it is a good question and
a good point to end on.
And I will first of all, I will spread the Gospel here in the
White House and see how many members I can get signed up.
(laughter)
Audience member: Rotary 7610 we have a
lot of places down there.
Jon Carson: Excellent.
But I will also end, end with a challenge for all of you.
I think when people think of the federal government,
they naturally think of Washington, D.C.
Did you know 85 percent of the federal workers don't live
within a hundred miles of Washington,
D.C.? Agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency,
the Department Of Commerce, the USDA,
they have staff on the ground all across the country.
And they have leaders who are helping find solutions locally.
Lots of what the federal government does is run through
local non profits.
It is run through organizations like a Catholic Charities or
Lutheran Social Services, so you don't necessarily see
the foot print of the federal government in your community,
but they are there.
And so I challenge each and every one of you to find that
local regional administrator for the Small Business
Administration, find that local leader from the EPA.
And working with your national team if you would like to help
make those connections, invite them to one of your lunches.
I did come to the -- which lunch was that that we went
to, Victoria?
It was at the University Club here.
We'll help, we'll help make those connections as well.
So I am looking forward to the Twitter chat that we are going
to do in a little bit.
I noticed a bunch of your local districts have Twitter accounts.
If you are wondering what that is,
I would encourage you to take a look at Twitter.
We find it just an incredible way to help get those ideas,
get those connections out there.
And let me just end on once again thanking you for the
incredible work that I have had the honor to see firsthand
around the world that rotary does.
Thank you.
(applause)
Victoria McCullough: Guys, hang, hang tight for a second.
So we a few, few logistics for lunch.
I want to go ahead and before we do that, I want to mention,
so all of the champions, we are going to need you back
here by 12:30.
We are going to do a run through of the program,
do a quick sort of a dress rehearsal.
So please all of the champions be back here in
south court at 12:30.
So that means guys, we'll treat these guys like
champions and let them be first in line at lunch.
So we are going, we actually have some staff outside here.
We are going to exit through here.
We'll have staff on hand to direct you up to the 4th floor
where you will pick up your boxed lunches,
and we have some rooms reserved so you guys can
hang out and chat and catch up with each other.
The last thing I want to mention so the program starts promptly
at one o'clock.
That means the live stream will start at one.
So I definitely don't want folks to tune in and to an
empty auditorium.
So we'll -- so please be back hereby no later than 12:45.
Again, we'll have folks upstairs,
to kind of round folks up.
But it does mean for a quick lunch.
But I promise we have got a great program for the afternoon
so it will be worth it.
So go ahead and exit out of here and we have got folks on hand
and we'll get you upstairs.