As clubs marked a new Civitan year in October, so did the Civitan International Board of Directors. The group gathered in Birmingham, Alabama, the first weekend of the month for their first meeting, which tackled such subjects as compliance, officer elections and the President’s Council program.

Directors kicked off the weekend by touring two labs at the Civitan International Research Center. The first was the lab of Dr. Matthew Alexander, who is using zebrafish models of muscular dystrophies to study muscle regulation and function.

“As we toured the zebrafish lab, one of the thoughts that came to mind was ‘big things often have small beginnings.’ It was amazing to learn that the zebrafish have a similar genetic structure to humans and that 84 percent of genes known to be associated with human disease have a zebrafish counterpart,” says International Region Five Director Pat McKinney.

The board also spent time at a lab that is conducting studies to learn more about autism and its effects on a person’s driving skills.

“During my tour of the labs, I was impressed with the dedication and energy of the scientists who are doing the research,” says Immediate Past President Bob Jones. “It made me proud that Civitan has been able to support these people.”

International Region Two Director Dianne Hansard agreed.
“After visiting several times before, I was still amazed at the new testing being done on disorders that affect all of us from infancy to adulthood,” says Hansard. “I am excited and pleased Civitan has renewed their monetary commitment of support to the center.”

The tours of CIRC labs were followed by a reception put on by the University of Alabama at Birmingham, thanking Civitan International for nearly three decades of support. It was also a time to honor this year’s Civitan International Research Center award recipients. Along with Civitan International, the Foundation for Children with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities was thanked for their support of the work at the CIRC. JoAnn O’Toole was in attendance as a representative of the FCIDD.

For the rest of the weekend, the board addressed several policy revisions. These included the following:

  • Approving changes to policies guiding International elections – one of which includes no longer allowing for an International candidate to “run from the floor” at convention
  • Strengthening Policy 0305, which details the requirements for a district to be in good standing
  • Adding and/or revising sections in the Junior Civitan International bylaws that describe how a member or club officer can be removed

The Civitan International Board of Directors also approved the organization’s annual gift to the Civitan International Research Center and spent some significant time on future planning before it wrapped up the weekend.

Any member can request access to the Civitan International Board of Directors minutes by emailing