Sylvia Whitlock, Rotary District 5300 Governor in 2012-2013, was the first woman president in Rotary International. She was born in New York City but was educated, through high school, in Kingston, Jamaica. After returning to New York City she earned a B.A. in Psychology from Hunter College. Sylvia worked for the United Nations, as a Statistical Clerk, before moving to California to start a career in Education. In California, she went on to earn a Masters Degree, cum laude, in Education from Cal Poly, Pomona, and a Ph.D., cum laude, in Education, from Claremont Graduate School. She earned another Masters Degree, in Marriage and Family Therapy, from Azusa Pacific University, and began a second career as a therapist. She is licensed by the Board of Behavioral Sciences in California.
In 1982, while an Elementary School Principal in Duarte, California, she was invited to join the history-making Ex-Rotary Club of Duarte. The club was chartered in District 5300 in 1952. Just before its twenty-fifth birthday in 1976, the club violated Rotary’s bylaws by inviting women to join, ultimately causing its charter to be revoked by Rotary International. Undeterred, the club renamed itself the Ex-Rotary Club of Duarte and its members continued on their quest not to be outcasts of one of the greatest humanitarian organizations in the world.
Sylvia became President of the club in 1987, the year the United States Supreme Court ruled that the club be reinstated, thus making her the first woman in the Rotary World to head a club as President. She has served as President twice, Secretary, Treasurer, and Foundation Representative, and District Governor. She has been a speaker at Rotary Clubs conventions and meetings, here and overseas, including South Africa, Jamaica, Washington and Texas.
Sylvia considers Rotary to be the best vehicle for humanitarian ventures in service to mankind. Some favorite club projects have included sinking water wells in Nigeria, setting up an AIDS Center in Jamaica and supporting an orphanage in Mexico. She continues to be inspired by the many Rotarians who have taken the organization to the edge of tomorrow and is committed to using the opportunity she has been given to further the cause of Rotary, in her community, in her country, and in the world.
Sylvia is a multiple Paul Harris Fellow and benefactor. She has three adult children – Meredith – a Paul Harris Fellow, BG is a deputy county counsel in San Mateo County and Arlan. She considers raising her children the most satisfying and enjoyable job she has ever had. Her book, “Women Also Serve,” published in 2015 by iUniverse Publishing, is filled with facts and personal anecdotes and shares a compelling history of the Duarte Rotary Club.