Our Rotary club’s success has been in great part due to the excellent presidents who have led our club since its inception. Below is a listing of our club presidents and a few highlights from their year of service:
Jan. 2021 – June, 2022 – Counce Drinkard
2019 – Dec. 2020 – Nathan Marcus
The 2019-2020 year continued the momentum from the previous years. The projects continued, and a flagship service venture was implemented. After an initial target, the club decided to pursue the Sunrise Rotary Plaza on the Jones Valley Trail. A committee was formed and initial plans for design and funding was implemented.
The speaker list was really strong, and the international project was also launched. The spring fundraiser was in place. In fact, the club was really humming. THEN…. COVID. The world, including Birmingham Sunrise Rotary, came to a screeching halt. The club quickly regrouped, and pivoted to a zoom format, which was somewhat foreign at the time. All socials, fundraising and service projects were scrapped from the middle of March until further notice. The board was regularly communicating. The incoming president moved, and it was determined that Nathan would serve another 6 months, splitting the open term with Counce Drinkard, the president elect.
The club did initiate the service project with UAB, to address healthy habits in underserved communities.
The calendar year ended with a ‘parrot head’ holiday zoom social. Everyone dressed like Jimmy Buffett, and a box was delivered which included ingredients for the meal. Members zoomed in and learned how to fix crab cakes. A quick live auction happened, and awards were distributed for the best Buffett outfits. Toys were collected for the annual toy drive.
2018-19 – Deborah Smith
During this Rotary year, our club continued to grow. One of the most important goals of this year was to form a relationship with the Birmingham Rotaract Club. This club is the largest Rotaract club in the world. Through the leadership of the board, we created a dual membership option for current members to join our club at a reduced rate. Also, during this year, we launched our 1st ever Derby Party which was held at The Club. A wonderful time was had by our members and guests as they socialized and watched the 2019 Kentucky Derby. All proceeds went to our foundation which funds area projects.
2017-18 – Andrew Edwards
During this Rotary year the club continued practically every service project from the previous year, with good participation. Our big fundraiser changed to the Gridiron Tailgate, a more casual event held at the B&A Warehouse where we partnered with the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame and selected Magic Moments of Alabama and Child Nurturing & Development Center as our recipient partners. While club activities remained constant and fulfilling for the members, membership and weekly attendance continued to decrease, so President Edwards convened a Visioning session with the help of Rotary leaders from District 6860. The six month process produced a Vision document with a summary of intended club direction and activities. Most importantly, it produced a summary that we will concentrate on three areas of focus out of Rotary International’s six Areas of Focus, which are
- Vocational Service via inner-city educational support
- Community Service via environmental support of local parks and waterways
- International Service via support of clean drinking water
The Vision also included an intent to develop a multi-year, ambitious park project to take ownership of, with the choice of location to be made in the next Rotary year.
2016-17 – Frank Caley
During the Rotary year, the club continued its many activities and services. Among the services were Pig Iron BBQ tent set up benefiting Children’s Hospital, blood drive with Downtown Rotary and Kiwaniss Clubs, partnering with Royal Cup in manning water, food station for Mercedes Marathon, collecting Christmas toys for Birmingham youth, tutoring at Cornerstone School, collecting winter coats for needy, and working 15th hole at Regions Tradition Golf Tournament. Our new member project was helping at the Boiling and Bragging event in Crestline Village. Having the most successful Gridiron event ever, we contributed to the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame Foundation, Preschool Partners, Harbert Center Foundation, Rotary International Foundation 100-year anniversary, Cornerstone 5th grade trip to Camp McDowell, two students from Cornerstone to RYLA, Literacy Council of Alabama, and funding Ecuador water project. We had 12 new and multiple Paul Harris Fellows, a group of members got club history together for website, had holiday party at Dr. Jeffrey Cohn’s home in Mountain Brook, and had socials at Cahaba Brewery, Paramount and Baron’s game at Regions Field. We also continued our interaction with Rotaract Club with meeting swaps and socials.
2015-16 – Clinton Smith
During Clinton Smith’s term as president, he and his board focused on identifying more organizations and projects, both locally and internationally, for which our club could provide support. After a very successful Gridiron Gala in November, the club was able to give sizable donations to Cornerstone School, Horizon School, Rotoract Foundation, The Cahaba River Society, Children’s Hospital Critical Care Transport, and St. Anne’s Home. We also participated in The Literacy Council’s project by purchasing books for this effort. The club had three members travel to Ecuador for Rotary International’s Clean Water Project.
2014-15 – David Hall
David Hall’s year as president was another outstanding year for our club. Under his leadership the club continued our clean water project in Ecuador and also helped again this year with the Pig Iron BBQ Tent setup which benefits Children’s Hospital. Our Cornerstone School tutoring project continued to assist students who needed extra help with their skills, and in May we again sent the 5th graders at Cornerstone on their annual Camp McDowell Environmental Center field trip. Also this year, we received a District Grant to help the Literacy Council purchase much needed books, and many of our members participated in a Habitat for Humanity build. Our annual Gridiron Gala was a hit again this year. The proceeds from that charity event benefitted many different area non-profits including the Rotaract Foundation, Children’s Hospital and the Salvation Army. Outstanding weekly meeting speakers during David’s presidency included Natalie Davis speaking on statewide elections, David Silverstein informing us about the Downtown Birmingham development, and David Perry representing the Governor’s office. We were proud to have our members, David Dowd and Mike Tate, to serve on committees at the District level, and Dan Bundy became District 6860 Assistant Governor. The board of directors during David’s year president stressed the importance of recruiting younger members to our club, and as result the average age of our members by the end of David’s term in office lowered from age 51 to 47.
2013-14 – Mitch Hungerpiller
Mitch’s year of service was jammed packed with events and accomplishments for Sunrise Rotary. Outstanding speakers were the norm for our weekly breakfast meetings this year. We even had a speaker, Amanda Stevens, travel from Australia to speak to our club about the difference between how women think and purchase vs. men. We held offsite meetings at The Birmingham Zoo, Children’s Hospital, and the Lyric Theatre. We completed last year’s clean water project to Ambato, Ecuador, and plans were made to continue this effort in other areas of need. The club membership increased from 148 to 153, and our club was once again awarded with the President Citation and Club of Distinction awards. Our 3rd annual Gridiron Gala was a major success this year. Our headline speakers for the gala were former Auburn University head football coach, Pat Dye and Former University of Alabama head football coach, Gene Stallings. Organizations benefitting from our gala included Children’s Hospital’s Critical Care Transport, Horizon’s School, YWCA, McWane Science Center, M-Power Ministries, The National Court Appointed Special Advocates Program and The AG Gaston Boys and Girls Club. As Mitch’s year ended, our club’s first president, James Wilson, Jr. was given the distinction of becoming our club’s first honorary member as a way of recognizing the leadership he provided in the founding year of our club.
2012-13 – Dan Bundy
During Dan Bundy’s year as president, our club was awarded the Presidential Citation which recognizes outstanding Rotary Clubs. It was because of Dan’s leadership along with the vision of his Vice President, Mitch Hungerpiller, that our “Gridiron Gala” has continued to be an event our community looks forward to supporting each year. Two non profit organizations who received funding from the profits of our gala were The Crippled Children’s Foundation and The Salvation Army. Our club also funded the Cornerstone School’s 5th grade field trip to the Camp MacDowell Environmental Center and the Rotary International Clean Water Project.
2011-12 – David Dowd
An excellent leader of our club, David Dowd, along with several other board members, piloted the project to secure funding through a grant from our District to fund a literacy project in coordination with the Literacy Council of Central Alabama. Our annual “Gridiron Gala” charity event debuted during David’s year of presidency. Organizations that benefitted from this year’s gala included Children’s Hospital and Cornerstone Schools. This fundraiser was a great success in its first year, and has continued to be a success each year since. Our club again received the Presidential Citation and the Club of Distinction Award, both of which show the strength of our club.
2010-11 – Stuart Freeman
Stuart Freeman and his board led our club to another banner year. We participated in several projects including funding for the Cornerstone School 5th graders field trip to the McDowell Environmental Center, the Rotary Foundation’s Polio Plus project, and continuing our commitment to Children’s Hospital.
2009-10 – Ann Gulledge
During Ann Gulledge’s presidency, the board researched different ideas for our major fundraiser. Instead of having a golf tournament, it was decided an evening social event would be the direction in which our club focused fundraising for this year. We had our event at the Cahaba Grand, and the band, Chevy 6 entertained attendees. Our fundraising proceeds benefited several local projects, but the main recipient was the Rotary International Polio Plus project. Also, our breakfast meetings this year featured many outstanding speakers including Van Ritchie of ACIPCO and Tasia Malakasis, author of Tasia’s Table and head cheese at Belle Chèvre. Ann and her board honored the memory of past president, Mike Newman, with a special presentation to his wife, Melville, at one of our breakfast meetings.
2008-09 – Skip Cofield
Under the leadership of Skip Cofield, the board passed a resolution refocus all club efforts under three tenets: children, water, and downtown Birmingham area projects. We partnered with the Alabama Power Service Organization to clean up Five Mile Creek, and this project continued for several years. The annual golf tournament was our primary fundraiser again this year and was again very successful. Skip’s board expanded the role of the administrative assistant, and voted to make this a permanent paid position.
2007-08 – Mike Newman
During Mike Newman’s presidency, our club held a very successful fundraiser to benefit Adaptive Aquatics which is an organization which provides water sports activities and fun for a wide range of people with disabilities. Ham Poynor headed up this fundraiser. It was a major undertaking, and the success of this fundraiser set the stage for our club to continue successful fundraisers in the future. This year our club continued funding the YMCA Youth Center, also. Sadly, Mike Newman passed away in 2009, and our club will forever be grateful for his excellent leadership as president in 2007-2008.
2006-07 – Prince McDougal
Prince McDougal led our club during a very challenging year when the economic downtown started to affect our membership. It was because of Prince’s excellent leadership that our club, even with a tight budget, remained an excellent club with a top notch membership. We continued our commitment to the YMCA Youth Center. Prince again led our club to receive several awards at the District conference.
2005-06 – Norman Jetmundsen
Many exciting events happened for our club during Norman Jetmundsen’s presidency. Our club celebrated its 20th Anniversary with a wonderful event at The Birmingham Children’s Zoo which had recently been completed with the support from our club and other organizations. We held our annual golf event at The Highland Park Golf Club, and the proceeds made from that event helped fund the YMCA Youth Center, the Hurricane Katrina Relief Fund and several other worthy causes. Under Norman’s leadership our club earned the Club of Distinction and the Presidential Citation Awards.
2004-05 – Phyllis Hall
Our club held its annual golf tournament again this year, and the proceeds help fund many projects including beginning the construction of the YMCA Rotary Sunrise Cafe and contributing to the Birmingham Children’s Zoo. Phyllis represented our club at the Rotary International Convention which was held in Osaka, Japan. At the Rotary District 6860 conference, our club was awarded the Club of Distinction and the Presidential Citation.
2003-04 – Tom Davis
A major achievement of the administration headed by Tom Davis was the formation of our Birmingham Sunrise Rotary Foundation. Through the work of several members headed up by Chris Harmon, our 501C3 foundation was formed which helped secure more participation at our golf event by both individuals and corporations. Also during this year, Phyllis Hall and Janet Ellis along with Tom Davis, attended the Rotary District 6860 convention at Callaway Gardens. Our club received several awards at the convention including Club of Distinction and the Presidential Citation.
2002-03 – Mabry Smith
Mabry’s year of service as president was another successful one. We once again raised over $25,000 from our annual golf tournament. Our new members worked to renovate and redecorate the Parent’s visiting room at DHR. Our club contributed to the Rotary Foundation for the Polio Plus project which has become a central focus of Rotary International in an effort to totally eradicate polio. Our members also brought toys and winter coats for the children at Gateway school at our annual holiday party. We continued to give our pledge to the Birmingham Children’s Zoo. In May our club funded the 5th grade students at Cornerstone School for a trip to the Camp McDowell Environmental Center.
2001-02 – Jim Richardson
During Jim Richardson’s year as president, our club again held our annual golf tournament to support our projects. The club partnered with the Downtown Rotary club and Alabama Public Television to present the Young Heroes Program. This event was held at The Harbert Center, and was a wonderful evening to honor several exceptional young people from our state. Our club also pledged $25,000.00 over the next 3 years to The Birmingham Zoo to help build the Children’s Zoo. Members and their families gathered at the zoo for an afternoon social to kick off our support of the Children’s Zoo.
2000-01 – Chad Crowther
Chad Crowther provided excellent leadership during his term as president. During this year, our board took a closer look at the projects in which our club participated. The board decided to have an annual golf tournament as a means of fundraising for our projects. This golf tournament helped support a number of projects including Camp AASCA, Cornerstone School, Children’s Harbor, the Boy Scouts of America, and the Jr. League Reading Program.
1999-2000 – Bill McDavid
Bill McDavid’s year as president was another successful year as our club was once again recognized by our District as a Club of Distinction and by Rotary International with the Presidential Citation award. Our weekly breakfast meetings at The Harbert Center featured excellent speakers from around our area. David Bronner of the Retirement Systems of Alabama was just one of the great speakers we offered to our members. In was under Bill’s leadership that our Cornerstone School Tutoring project was begun. During the school year, members from our club volunteer an hour or two each week to tutor students at Cornerstone School. This volunteer opportunity has continued each year to bless both our members and the students at Cornerstone.
1998-99 – Jeff Stone
In addition to continuing the many projects our club supported in the Birmingham area, Jeff Stone used his year as president to focus on the Paul Harris Sustaining program. Jeff encouraged better participation from each member toward giving to the Paul Harris Program through the Rotary Foundation. By the end of Jeff’s year, each member of our club met the goal of giving $100 during the Rotary to Paul Harris Program, and that goal has been met each year since. Through Jeff’s vision, our club saw more members than during any year before reach the $1000 goal and become official Paul Harris Fellow. You can see the list of our members who are Paul Harris Fellows on our home history page.
1997-98 – Kenny Hartley
During Kenny Hartley’s administration, our club expanded our projects for the community. The McWane Center was being planned as a premier science center for our downtown area. Our club raised funds for this center and participated in the grand opening of the center. We donated to the American Red Cross and Cornerstone School. We also promoted Junior Achievement in our area and continued the Optometry students’ project. Our membership continued to grow during Kenny’s successful year as president.
1996-97 – Chap Jackson
During 1996-97, Chap focused on continuing all the worthy projects our club has participated in the last few years including adopting Powell Elementary school to provide books and other opportunities for the students there. We partnered with The Literacy Council on their literacy awareness campaign this year by staffing their Literacy Hotline. Our club gave donations of clothes and toys to the children at Gateway School. We also continued the Optometry Students’ project. During Chap’s year, our current club secretary, Janet Ellis, was hired to help manage the administrative areas of our club.
1995-96 – Glenn Estess, Jr.
During Glenn Estess, Jr.’s presidency, our club continued to support Powell Elementary school with school supplies. We partnered with Books a Million to provide a special reading program at Powell Elementary. We worked with Cahaba Heights Community School to solicit donations of shoes and coats to donate to area children. The Optometry Students’ project continued this year, also. Glenn’s term as president was another successful year for our club.
1994-95 – Kate Stockham
Under Kate Stockham’s leadership as president our club continued to grow. As our membership grew, we also found other areas of or community where we could offer service. In addition to continuing our funding for the Optometry Students’ project and helping with the Cahaba River Clean Up, our club “adopted” Powell Elementary School in downtown Birmingham. Our members helped in various ways with the students of this inner city school. Kate and her board of directors began this partnership with Powell Elementary and laid the groundwork for future years of assistance to this school and its students.
1993-94 – Murray Ross
Murray Ross led our club this year as we continued to grow our membership. We enjoyed hearing from excellent speakers as we gathered for breakfast each week at The Harbert Center. Organizations which received donations from our club were the Students of Birmingham Southern’s Optometry School for their International Vision Project and the YWCA. Many of our club members donated time to help with the Cahaba River Clean Up Project along with other successful service projects.
1992-93 – William “Buff” Bond
Buff Bond continued our club’s focus of adding to our membership. As our membership grew, so did our participation in projects, both locally and internationally. Students in Birmingham Southern’s Optometry School received support from our club for their International Vision Project. Many club members volunteered their time to assist with the Cahaba River Clean Up project.
1991-92 – Ramsey Reich
Ramsey Reich served as our club’s 6th president, representing the first non-charter member to serve in that capacity. Ramsey set a goal to have active participation of each and every club member in at least one “Avenue of Service” project during this year. This helped the club to expand the projects in which its members were involved. Members participated in the Cahaba River Clean Up; Revamping and landscaping of the 1st Avenue North exit of the Red Mountain Expressway; a Career Fair at Phillips High School; Operation Smile; and the District 6860 Group Study Exchange Program. Because of all of our club’s efforts and projects this year, we received the Club of Distinction award. This Rotary year, under the leadership of Ramsey Reich, proved to be one filled with significant accomplishments and awards. It served as the foundation upon which many more significant achievements were obtained by future administrations.
1990-91 – Hugo Marx
Hugo Marx set the expansion of our guest speaker’s program to include international speakers and the improvement of our club’s breakfast menus as the two primary goals during his tenure as president. He succeeded in achieving both goals. During his presidency, our club upgraded our pictorial directory as well. Hugo’s administration continued the club’s involvement with and emphasis on activities benefiting children. Financial support was given to The Discovery Place, The Ronald McDonald House and the Girl’s and Boy’s Club.
1989-90 – David Lott
Under the leadership of David Lott, our club again achieved distinction at the District level. Amongst the larger clubs, our Club won recognition for its fundraising work with the Magic Moments organization and for our membership recruitment. Our club raised nearly $30,000 for the Magic Moments organization and held a banquet for them in the ballroom of The Club. Our membership grew ten percent during the Rotary year. The board of directors during this year passed a resolution stating that Club funds would be used only for those service projects that directly benefit children.
1988-89 – Thomas Hough
Tom Hough spent his year as president promoting “Rotarization.” Rotarization was the message of familiarizing the club members with Rotary, growth through quality, and supporting the club in attendance. During this year the club participated in: transporting elderly individuals to the polls to allow them to vote for their president; publishing the first club directory with photographs of the members, the support of “Magic Moments” to the level of almost $30,000; involving our club in the Birmingham Business Fair; and inviting schools to participate in the Business Fair. Our club also began having members serve on the District level. The club membership grew to 115 which led to our club meetings to begin being held in the large ballroom at The Harbert Center.
1987-88 – Joseph Covington, Jr.
Joe Covington, rededicated the club’s efforts of community service by continuing to bring the anti drug message to Birmingham Schools and the club was a major contributor to “Magic Moments” by raising more than $20,000. Our membership grew to 95. Our club made a major commitment of $10,000 to Rotary International’s Polio Plus campaign. Strong programs, featuring informed speakers attracted members and a growing number of guests.
1986-87 – James Wilson, Jr.
Under the very capable leadership of Jim Wilson, the Rotary Club of Birmingham – Sunrise began in 1986. Starting with 53 charter members, the club grew to 75 members in its first year. Starting the club was a big challenge to Jim and his fellow officers, and the club quickly became involved in serving the Birmingham community. One early event was a sponsorship of an out of town specialist in youth drug awareness, who visited several local elementary schools, citing the harmful effects of drug and alcohol abuse and their related problems. Additionally, the club became actively involved with its support of “Magic Moments,”a local organization which grants wishes to chronically ill children. The club, aware of the growing costs for higher education, was successful in sponsoring a Rotary scholarship to recipient Rodney Ferguson.