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Redefining Rotary Through COVID Lenses Saint Lucia, home of the 2020-2021 District Conference and District Governor Lisle Chase

“Whatever Rotary may mean to us, to the world it will be known by the results it achieves” – Paul Harris

In 1905, one man in a cold Chicago city felt the need for fellowship and to serve. These emotions have remained pervasive over time, and today, 116 years later, fellowship and service are still the driving forces pushing men and women into service clubs like Rotary.

Image of Rotary District Governor, Lisle Chase
Rotary District Governor, Lisle Chase

Members now span the globe, working to solve some of our world’s most challenging problems including Polio, HIV/AIDS and Malaria. Major projects surround causes ranging from peace, to health and disease mitigation, growing resilient economies, supporting education, mothers and children and the environment.

In the early days, perhaps the biggest challenge to the work of Rotary would have been navigating the topography and remote terrain of vast countries like Afghanistan or Pakistan, in a quest to bring polio vaccines on the ground to people who required inoculation. Travel was protocol-free then and doctors and medical personnel, Rotarians and partners in service, would volunteer their time and talent to assist the cause across borders without the fear of bringing or contracting any disease.

Today, Rotary, like the rest of the world, has felt the pressure of working behind locked doors. Even Rotary has had to adjust and move to virtual spheres and curfew hours. But neither curfew, nor lockdown has changed the need for service. In fact, the need on the ground is at its greatest now, with more people out of work and more people needing direct assistance as economies buckle under the weight of the pandemic, declared as such one year ago, by the WHO, in March 2020.

This is the world of Rotary that the 2020-2021 District Governor Lisle Chase has ascended to. Borne in Kingston, Jamaica, Mr. Chase moved to Saint Lucia in 1963.  Having attended Secondary school, he joined a firm of Chartered Accountants and trained as an accountant, later pursuing his studies in the UK prior to joining the firm of Coopers & Lybrand, Chartered Accountants.  In 1984, he made partner in Coopers and Lybrand, six months after joining Rotary on December 1st 1983.

Over the course of his career, Lisle served in a number of public offices including: Board member on the Saint Lucia Tourist Board; Chairman of the National Development Corporation;  member of a commission to review senior Civil Servants salaries; member of the Insurance Review Tribunal: Chairman of the National Insurance Corporation.  He also served as Chairman of The East Caribbean Financial Holdings Group, owners of Bank of Saint Lucia and Global Investment Solutions, an investment brokerage company, and major shareholder in Bank of St. Vincent, where he also served on the board, and he is Chairman of Heineken Saint Lucia Ltd.

Throughout his career, Mr. Chase has been a servant to the people. He served the Red Cross as Vice President and Disaster Preparedness Officer and was a qualified First Aid Instructor, frequently travelling to the south to train key personnel at the Hewanorra International Airport and the then Halcyon Days Hotel.  He has been for many years, and remains a board member on CARE (Centre for Adolescent Renewal and Education).

Mr. Chase left Coopers & Lybrand to form the local accounting firm – Chase Skeete & Boland, a PKF firm, before accepting a position with Financial Centre Corporation in 1999, where he remains as CEO today.

Having joined the Rotary Club of Saint Lucia in 1983, Lisle served in several board positions and was credited with starting the Car Raffle that financed many of the club’s projects for many years.  He also was the creator of the Easter-Anti Drug Camp for at risk youth that also ran for several years. He served as President of the Rotary Club of Saint Lucia in 1988/1989.

In 1992 Lisle applied to his Club for support to start a new Rotary club in Saint Lucia, to include women.  He held the view that Rotary would be richer for the inclusion of women, a position that was not widely held back in those days.  To this day, there are some clubs in the world that have not progressed to action this vision. With the support of the Rotary Club of Saint Lucia, the Rotary Club of Gros Islet was Chartered on March 5th 1993 including women, and with Lisle Chase as the Charter President.

Since holding office as President, he has served the Rotary Club of Gros Islet on the Board, in every capacity, being most remembered perhaps for his role as Treasurer for several years where he exercised his professional skill to ensure accurate and timely reporting of club finances.

Mr. Chase teamed up with past Rotarian Shermie James-Darcheville in the South to start a Rotary Satellite Club in the South of Saint Lucia in 2017 thereby reestablishing Rotary in the South.  In that year, he was nominated to serve the District as Governor and in 2018, his Nomination was confirmed.  Lisle serves Rotary District 7030 as District Governor for Rotary year 2020/2021.

Lisle has one son (Lisle P.A. Chase) who is a Barrister in the UK.  He is married to Maggie who is also a Rotarian.  Lisle & Maggie are Multiple Paul Harris Fellows; Major Donors (Level 2) to the Rotary Foundation, and Lisle is a Benefactor and a member of the Paul Harris Society.

The 2020/2021 District Governor has faced the herculean task of leading Rotary through the murky waters of the COVID pandemic. Not having envisioned this in his lifetime, or for that matter for the world of Rotary, Mr. Chase acknowledges the stellar assistance from all of the clubs in his District, headed by leaders who have stayed the course and really put their shoulders to the wheel when it was most needed. In summing up his service to humanity in a pandemic, Mr. Chase says, “I live by the credo that Kindness is Transformational. At this time in the development of mankind, let us be kind to each other. I look forward to the time when we can show emotion by being sociable again publicly, when we can look at each other and smile meaningfully, when service will be delivered, without a mask on.”

Mr. Chase says, “now is the time for concerted action especially as the District’s focus turns inward, to the celebration of the upcoming District Conference, usually an annual event that brings the region together under the banner of celebrating Rotary and Service Above Self.”

Normally what would have been considered a small boon for the local tourism industry, this year’s District Conference will be truly historic and in the words of the District Governor, “I can assure you that we will convene, under the theme “Service, Sustainability & Peace” and that in the spirit of Rotary International President Holger Knaack’s theme, we will host a virtual Conference that is engaging, informative, exciting, and offers each of us, whether incoming leaders or seasoned Rotarians, the opportunity to serve, to learn and to effect lasting change for good.” This year’s 7030 District Conference will run from April 16th – 24th 2021. Currently in its advanced planning stages, the Conference will be executed from Saint Lucia.

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