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What's Up Magazine

Towne Salute: Don Roland, Rotary Club of Annapolis

Feb 08, 2016 02:14PM ● By Becca Newell
By Becca Newell // Photo by Richard Sweeney

Saying “no” doesn’t seem to be a word in Don Roland’s vocabulary.

“Sometimes it’s hectic,” he says, referring to the hoard of organizations that occupy his free time. “But I like to stay active.”

The former CEO moved to Annapolis 20 years ago, but for the first 12 of those years, he was often traveling throughout the country and in Europe on business, providing little time for engagement in local organizations. His wife, however, was quite involved with the community.

“People only knew me because I was Kathy’s husband,” he says, laughing.

That changed upon his retirement in 2006, when a fishing buddy asked Roland to join the Rotary Club of Annapolis. He accepted and soon became chairman of three committees.

The Photography Committee allows Roland to combine his passion for the artistic hobby with his newfound volunteer efforts. As chairman, he photographs events, meetings, and publicity material. He also spends time organizing and logging the club’s records and memorabilia on the Archives Committee and helps provide judges for local ethics competitions, like the Military Ethics Bowl held at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, as part of the Ethics Committee. Occasionally, he adds, the group is asked to lead presentations on various topics regarding ethics.

Roland also serves as a judge of the Rotary’s Four-Way Speech Contest, thanks to his fishing buddy—and longtime chairman of the annual contest—Jack Kersh.

He says he was drawn to the Rotary Club of Annapolis for the principles on which it stands: service above self; assisting people locally and internationally.

“It’s very much focused on helping mankind,” he says.

That ideal is one that’s obviously very appealing to Roland, since his community involvement stems much deeper than his active role within Rotary. He also is a founding member of the Anne Arundel County Public Library Foundation, which serves to provide additional funding to help the library excel in its services to the public. A few years ago, he realized the importance of a closer connection between the library’s foundation and Board of Trustees—the governing body of the library’s Board of Directors, he explains—so he joined that, too.

“I’ve just become treasurer,” he says. “It’s gotten me more involved in the basics of how we can help our library transition into a modern library.”

Additionally, he sits on the University of Maryland Baltimore Foundation—a post he’s held since its inception—and on the Board of Trustees of the Hammond-Harwood House in Annapolis.

This June, however, Roland will step down from that board—an action he’s never performed before.

“I’m term-limited out,” he says, with a hearty chuckle.

With such a passion for remaining active in his retirement and giving back to a community he’s called home for more than two decades, it’s safe to assume Roland will soon find another board to fill that void.

“For so long I was here, but not involved, so it’s nice to make a contribution,” he says. “It’s good to be with good people and work on projects where people need help and support.”

Do you have a volunteer to nominate? Email Becca Newell at