A newsmaker you should know: Canonsburg woman helps others around the world through Rotary
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After getting a divorce in 1991, Stephanie Urchick discovered she had big blocks of time on her hands. So, when someone invited her to a Rotary club meeting, she went -- even though she had little idea of what Rotary was all about.
Rotary is an international service club that provides humanitarian services and encourages high ethical standards and goodwill around the world. It has 34,282 clubs and more than 1.2 million members worldwide.
"I found the first and second meetings very interesting -- then by the fourth, I became a member charged with writing the minutes," she recalled.
Two years later, Ms. Urchick, a resident of Canonsburg and native of Monessen, became president of the Rotary in California, Pa. More responsibility came this summer when she was named trustee of the Rotary Foundation by former Rotary president, Kalyan Banargee of India.
Ms. Urchick is only the third woman to be named a Rotary Foundation trustee and is one of 15 trustees appointed from around the world.
Ms. Banargee said that Ms. Urchick's appointment was made in part because of her "outstanding passion and involvement in Rotary and commitment to Rotary's highest ideal of 'Service Above Self' " -- the motto of the international organization.
At the end of June, Ms. Urchick, 57, attended her first trustees meeting and called the weeklong session "intense."
The foundation is charged with overseeing a budget of $255 million, she said. "Part of our duties is to raise, invest and award money to Rotarians doing humanitarian work. After the money is awarded, we also steward the financial outlay to insure that everything is properly accounted."
The board meets quarterly at Rotary headquarters in Evanston, Ill., and in conjunction with international Rotary meetings held elsewhere. The position of trustee is not a paid one, but the foundation does pay for assignment-related travel expenses.
The foundation has a four-star rating from Charity Navigator, an independent organization that looks at foundations to see how well they're performing. It is the organization's highest rating.
In 2000, Ms. Urchick participated in a Rotary project that worked to eliminate polio around the world. As part of the project, she traveled to India, where, she said, millions of children were immunized in a single day because of cooperation of Rotarians, the country's health officials, citizens and the government.
"I have no children, but through Rotary I can help make the world a better place for a child already here," Ms. Urchick said.
In 2001, she worked on a Rotary project to secured mammography equipment for a hospital in Krakow, Poland.
In 2007, she participated on another polio immunization project in Nigeria. She also helped with a program to install bio-sand water filters in homes in the Dominican Republic.
"The amazing thing about Rotary service is that you can find ways to change the world one person at a time, change someone's life for a day or impact hundreds of thousands of people through your work," she said. "Rotary is that expansive."
After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania in 1976, Ms. Urchick spent 30 years in higher education administration, 10 years at Westmoreland County Community College and then 20 years at California University of Pennsylvania.
Then, she graduated with a doctorate in leadership from Indiana University of Pennsylvania in 2004 and started her own company called Platform Poise, a coaching and consulting business that aims to help people give better presentations and works with managers to develop personal effectiveness.
She also is executive director of the Southpointe CEO association and the Southpointe Property Owners' Association. In addition, she is business developer for Robert Morris University at Southpointe and in Washington County.
"One of the big reasons being self-employed is such a blessing is that it enables me to organize my work schedule around my community service," she said.
First Published August 9, 2012 5:46 am