Rotary International President-elect Stephanie Urchick announced that the 2024-25 presidential theme is The Magic of Rotary and called on members to recognize and amplify the organization’s power to save lives. “Don’t misunderstand me – we are not going to end polio or bring peace to the world by waving a wand and saying some funny words,” Urchick told incoming district governors at the Rotary International Assembly on  January 8, 2024. “It’s up to you. You create the magic with every project completed, every dollar donated, and every new member.”

Watch the theme address  HERE ......

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Urchick, a member of the Rotary Club of McMurray, Pennsylvania, USA, said she saw the magic of Rotary on display when she was helping install water filters in the Dominican Republic. Two boys were watching as dirty water entered the filter, then ran out clean at the other end.

“One of the boys grabbed my sleeve and said, ‘Show me the magic again,’” she said. “Obviously, the water filter wasn’t magic. We worked hard to transport those filters, install them, and work with community leaders in the area to maintain them. But those boys knew that easy access to clean water would change their lives. Knowing that I played a small part in that certainly changed my life.”

Prioritizing peace

Urchick urged members to champion Rotary’s Action Plan, find a balance between continuity and change, and work for peace. She plans to host a presidential peace conference in 2025 with the theme “Healing in a Divided World.”

Rotary has a long history of promoting peace through its network of peace centers, Urchick noted. Located at top universities around the globe, the centers have trained nearly 1,800 peace fellows who are now working in more than 140 countries. The newest center, located at Bahçeşehir University in Istanbul, Turkey, will welcome its first class of fellows in early 2025.

“The Rotary Peace Fellowship began more than 20 years ago to equip peace and development professionals from communities around the world to become effective catalysts for ending and preventing conflict,” Urchick said. “This conference will focus on Rotary’s peace efforts and provide opportunities to learn together.”

In addition to emphasizing peacebuilding, Urchick reiterated Rotary’s commitment to eradicating polio. She urged the incoming governors to join or initiate PolioPlus Societies in their districts and do all they can to help end the disease.

“Contact elected officials and other government leaders. Remind them that polio is still a threat. Push them to support polio eradication,” she said. “Polio remains our top priority and requires our fullest commitment, but there is so much important work to do.”

Balancing continuity and change

Urchick also underscored the necessity of balancing continuity and change, both of which animate Rotary’s Action Plan.

“The plan is all about building on our best ideas, not abandoning them,” she said. “We face a tough balancing act. We must change ourselves and stay true to who we are.”

She asked the governors to do whatever is needed to make the club experience irresistible to members.

“That might mean changing how things are done in your district,” she said. “If your district has been doing things one way for 50 years, it’s probably time to reassess. If a club in your district isn’t active or is losing members, maybe it’s time to start a new club that fits better with the community. Just because a club or district hasn’t changed in a while doesn’t mean no one is hungry for change.”

One way to make positive change, she said, is to embrace the principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion within clubs.

“I hope you’ll join me in opening your arms to future people of action, even if – and in some cases, especially if – they don’t look or act like the typical member of your local club,” she said. “With DEI, it is easier to be united in a common purpose. It’s in those moments when we are committed and focused that we are the most effective and relevant.”

Speeches & resources

2024-25 theme logo and materials (download)

2024-25 RI President-elect Stephanie Urchick’s speech (PDFwatchvideo download)

RI President R. Gordon R. McInally speech (PDFwatchvideo download)

RI General Secretary and CEO John Hewko’s speech (PDFwatchvideo download)

Rotary Foundation Trustee Chair-elect Mark Daniel Maloney (PDFwatchvideo download)

View and download more International Assembly speeches

For downloadable files of these images and others, and select videos, visit the International Assembly page on the Brand Center.