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President Diane Woodruff brought the March 26, 2019 meeting of the “Oldest, Biggest, and Best” Rotary Club, our Rotary Club of Sacramento, to order with a change in format to accommodate the busy schedule of our Speaker of the Day, Matina Kolokotronis.

Chair of the Day, Jeanne Reaves (Jeanne Reaves Consulting) kicked off Tuesday’s meeting with an interview-style dialogue with Matina covering a range of topics from her upbringing in Chicago, her career with the Sacramento Kings, the importance of mentorship, and the evolution of her view of Sacramento as “home.”

While ultimately becoming the only female in the NBA to hold the titles of both COO and President of Business, as a child she appeared to be destined for a much different path. Living in Chicago with her three sisters, Matina described a very traditional Greek family. “My father worked while my mom stayed home.” But her father encouraged Matina and her sisters to all get law degrees. With a smile, she noted, “I think he thought we’d get better husbands if we went to law school.” She and her sisters did become lawyers and Matina proudly stated that she did get a great husband – renowned Sacramento developer Sotiris Kolokotronis.

Working in Sacramento as a lawyer for a small firm, Matina received a call from Geoff Petrie, then-General Manager of the Sacramento Kings. The Kings had just drafted a player from Greece who didn’t speak English, and whose contract was in Greek. “Could you please help us out with his contract?” he asked.

That task led to a job and many advancements within the organization up to her current role setting the over-arching strategy for both the business and basketball sides of the team.

As a woman in a male-dominated business, Matina desires to pave the way for other women in sports, She recalled her first meeting NBA Board of Governors meeting in New York. “I walked into a room with 100 men. The room is still dominated by men, but we’ve made strides.”

Matina emphasized mentorship. “When you can see it, you can see a path towards it.” Coming from a traditional home where her mom and most of the women she knew did not work, she headed off to law school not knowing what she was going to do. It wasn’t until her part-time job in a law office where she met her mentor who “showed me the path.” They are friends to this day.

Matina cited two particular achievements with pride: keeping the Kings in Sacramento and the development of the Golden 1 Center. On a personal level, without hesitation she identified her greatest accomplishment. “Staying married and having three beautiful children is definitely my pride and joy. When I think about Sacramento, I look out my window, see that Golden 1 Center and say Look! We did it!

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After time for fellowship, Strati Vourakis (Calm Computing) delivered a powerful Thought for the Day on turning fear into excitement by “breathing into the fear.”

President Diane shared the sad news of the passing of Ed Wiley. Ed was a club member for 51 years. The Club held a moment of silence in his honor. Services for Ed were held on Wednesday, March 27th.

Meeting Sponsor Eric Solis (Solis Financial Strategies) donated his time to Cameron Law (Social Venture Partners of Sacramento), who shared the details of SVP’s April 3rd Fast Pitch event.

Bob Miller (First US Community Credit Union) introduced us to the beneficiaries of the club’s May 6th Golf4Kids event at Valley Hi Country Club.  Teachers, parents, and students from Luther Burbank High School and Ralph Richardson Center shared moving stories of the positive ways our Rotary Club has impacted their lives. Bob wrapped up the inspiring presentation with the news that there is still room for more golfers!

Service Above Self in Action: Youth Incentive Program (YIP) Eric Solis provided background on the YIP mentorship program and the many benefits of getting involved. Brian Turner (Law Office of Brian H. Turner) presented a slide show of fun YIP events over the past year. Barbara Davis Lyman then introduced us to our amazing YIP alumnus Jesus Barraza-Garcia. Jesus encouraged all of us to become mentors!

Exchange Student Project: Anita Ding, our Rotary Youth Exchange student from Taiwan, and her friend and fellow RYE student Signe Bang Jespersen from Denmark invited us to participate in two benefits RYE is organizing. The first is the May 11 “Wine-d Up for Youth” wine and food event at $50 a ticket. The second is to donate for their Kids Helping Kids effort, which is raising money to help low-income students with college expenses and a laptop.

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Club Announcements:

Mystery Trip – Past Emperor Wes Yee (Yee Dental Care) informed us that time is running out to get our tickets to the April 6th Mystery Trip

Ski Trip – Past President Frank Poelman (Poelman Company Ltd) notified us that, due to transportation difficulties, the March 28th Ski Trip has been cancelled.

Care Grams – Steve Huffman let us know that Laurie Wright (Tri Counties Bank) will be undergoing ACL surgery soon and invited us to share our get-well wishes.

Past President Skip Lawrence sent us on our way with the Smile of the Day.

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Special thanks to: Wine Reception pianist Mike Bullington (Financial Advisor); greeters Bobby Reed (Capitol Tech Solutions), Danielle McGarrity (Children’s Receiving Home of Sacramento) and Margaret Bryan (Shriners Hospitals for Children Northern CA); Pulse reporter Mark Luhdorff (Anpac Bio); and meeting photog John Swentowsky (Swentowsky Photography).

Next week’s meeting will feature Dr. Ty Smith of the Railroad Museum, discussing the 150th Anniversary of the Transcontinental Railroad.