Dr. Rickey Frierson (Director of Diversity and Inclusion for CSU’s Warner College of Natural Resources), upon being invited to join RCFC, put significant effort into trying to understand Rotary (both in general and in our community) and what might be called its “brand” in our community.  For our Zoom meeting on Feb 17, he presented the results of his research, including some insights on possible future paths toward diversification. 
He started with the idea of, looking from the outside in, what our organization is about and how he, in his many identities, including being a young man of color, might fit into our organization.  His first efforts were directed at the internet presence of Rotary (best summarized in Rotary International’s 2017 Triannual Report) which emphasized, among others, the service, education, and health foci for local to international efforts.  He also summarized where Rotary stands and where we perceive ourselves, as both international and local organizations, with respect to diversity in race and gender, pointing out the differences between perception and reality.  He asked “When I look in, do I see myself?” He wonders why there are so few young people and why so little ethnic diversity.  Locally, he sees an organization of old white men (and some women) who do great things but have little interaction with more diverse communities in our area. 
Is Rotary accessible to everyone?  Yes.  But does it provide a sense of belonging to everyone, including communities of color?  He wonders why RCFC does not come to more diverse populations (including student and community organizations) rather than expecting those communities to come to RCFC.  He looked at the dues structure (especially, in normal times, including meals) of RCFC and questioned whether that was affordable to young people.  Would it be possible to have either trial memberships or sponsored memberships?  With respect to connecting to the community, he commented that there is no general advertisement about every meeting.  Using the phrase “come through the back yard”, he suggested that it would be more effective to be on a friendly basis with the diverse communities to lead them to be interested in Rotary, rather than trying to formally invite their members “through the front door”. 
In a “chicken and egg” sort of problem, he points out that most people don’t want to be the “only one” in an organization: people don’t want to be in isolation in an organization and they want to be assured that their voices will be heard.  For groups not represented in RCFC, their experience (of an old white man organization) trumps our truth (that we are open to everyone) and that perception can be countered only by honest dialog with those groups.  Although bridges must be constructed to other groups, in a sense they must be co-constructed, but Rotarians must cross the bridge first.  Our activities in the community must exemplify the Four-Way Test.  As Paul Harris, the founder of Rotary, said “If Rotary is to realize its potential, it must be evolutionary, and revolutionary on occasion.” 
How can we get the few into our organization so that we can bring in the many?  He suggests that we should have one-on-one conversations with individuals in diverse populations, asking them what they know about Rotary and what we can do to make them feel more comfortable.  As for students, he suggests that we might want to distribute a survey in school communities, asking about their perceptions on jobs, equitable pay, and adverse conditions as they might impact their post-school lives; do a pulse-check on where things are aligned or mis-aligned.  We need to invite rather than expecting individuals to volunteer – and are we inviting them to join an exclusive club or into an inclusive organization that is open to service?  If you want people to know that you exist, you have to tell them that you exist. 
For the Latino community, rather than “telling them’, it would be better to listen to them.  How can we reconcile our differences?  Ask them, have you, either as individuals or as a group, been hurt and what can we do to alleviate that hurt? 
It is essential to listen to smaller groups, both within and outside our organization.  If some of our members are creating an unsafe space, what can we do about it?  If the offense from one of our members happened  years ago, but that member is no longer active, how do we get that word out? 
And finally, what other organizations might we contact more effectively to spread the word about Rotary?  He suggested that there are numerous diverse organizations in the Fort Collins area and we might identify appropriate ones by a simple Google search.