Rotary Club of Marshall
"Where SERVICE is always Center Stage"

Marshall's First African-American President

Louraiseal McDonald Marshall Rotary President 2017-18The Marshall News Messenger reports on Marshall Rotary Club's first African American female President. 
 
 The Rotary Club of Marshall, Texas, installed its first African American female President - Harrison  County's family and consumer sciences county extension agent, Louraiseal McDonald. 
 
 Louraiseal is excited about her term as President of Marshall Rotary Club.  "I'll be the club's 98th  President, sixth female President and the first African American female President, she said " What an  honor."
 
 "This club will be 100 years old in 2019" she added.  "That's a major milestone."
Sharing in the momentous occasion were Rotary dignitaries including outgoing District Governor Lee  Montgomery, past District Governor Shirley Griffin and Rotary International Director Karen Wentz.  Marshall Metro Rotary Club's President Charles Cornish III also witnessed the event.
 A 12 year member of Rotary International, McDonald first joined Rotary as an extension agent in Rusk.  She joined Marshall's chapter when she transferred here in June 2008 as Harrison County's extension  agent.  One of her major roles as a Rotarian has been serving as Director of the Club's service projects,  Diploma Plus, which helps at-risk high school juniors. We select four each year. " We meet with them  once a month," she said." I keep them encouraged, and just give them some positive reinforcement. 
 
Through the program, McDonald engages them in various activites focusing on financial management, food and nutrition, scholarship, job skills and interview skills.  She also invites other Rotarian to come and share their life story.  It's because of such leadership that past Rotarian President and Rotarian District #5830 Ted Huffhines nominated her to become President. 
 
"I was sitting in my office back in December 2015, and Ted Huffhines, who is the past President and current District Governor, called me and asked if I'd be interested"  McDonald told the News Messenger at first, I was like: What? Who me? Are you serious?"
 
Reflecting on her rewarding experience as a Rotarian, she willingly accepted the challenge.
 
"I have often (wondered)  what's it like,"  she said, sharing other Rotarians, including past District Governor Jim Fitzgerald and past President Daren Holden, also suggested to her, in the past, that she'd make a great club President.
 
"So, I'm going to just take it one step at a time," McDonald said.
 
"I feel very blessed, I feel very honored, " the Shreveport, Louisiana, native said.  "I am just shocked; amazed.. I can't believe somebody thought enough of me to think I could be President of such a prestigious club.  For somebody to see that in me, that says a lot."
 
She's especially grateful, considering she's not originally from the area. "That says something" said McDonald, who has been living and working in Marshall for nine years. "It's kind of like an outsider coming in taking the lead and they didn't have to.  I really appreciate it more than you'll ever know.
 
Going forward, one of McDonald's goals is to increase diversity in the club.  As a predominantly older, white male membership, McDonald hopes to attract more young adults, women and races. "Our club is not as diverse as it should be, so that's one of my goals for my 2017-2018 term to bring more diversity to the club, "she said. 
 
Another goal is increasing community outreach by partnering with fellow local civil groups.  "My first big initiative is we're going to do a 'making a difference in Marshall' event," she said, noting it will be October 24, 2017 at Marshall Convention Center. McDonald said it'll be a community-wide effort, bringing public awareness to the missions of the various civic groups in Marshall.
 
"In Rotary, our big push is the eradicate polio; we are almost there," McDonald said.
 
After two years of intense training at the President Elect training seminars, the new local Club President is looking forward to working together with fellow Rotarians to continue to make a difference in Marshall.