Longtime Civitan, Mark Eisinger, has been named the new executive vice president for Civitan International. Eisinger, who served as International President during the 2009-2010 year, began his role as Executive Vice President on September 25, 2023. In this role, Eisinger will oversee all strategic and operational growth for the organization. Mark sat down with us and answered some questions about what got him interested in wanting to lead Civitan International as a member of the leadership team.
What got you interested in this position?
When I heard about the previous EVP’s resignation, I started thinking about who would be the next EVP, then a couple of Civitans asked me about considering the position. I was planning to stay with Blackbaud as a nonprofit accounting consultant until I retire in a few years, so I wasn’t sure it was the right decision. But I believe that doors open and doors close. And doors kept on opening toward applying for this position.
Why did you apply?
For many reasons, but most importantly, my background with nonprofit management, accounting and reporting gave me the experience needed for this organization at this time. In addition, with over 30 years of membership, leadership, club building (in four states), Civitan recruiting, club officer and club building training all were important for this position. So I applied and the interview questions I answered began to truly excite me about the possibilities and opportunities for this awesome organization!
When did you join Civitan and how did that happen?
Great story, at that time, I was living in Las Vegas, NV working for Wells Fargo. The bank had a skybox at the Thomas & Mack arena where the University of Nevada Runnin’ Rebels Basketball team played. I was the skybox coordinator of supplies and staff for games and events. I stopped by a liquor store and was referring to my supply list and asked if they had trash bags. The shop owner said “Yes, we have Civitan trash bags.” I asked him what is “Citivan”, yes, I pronounced it wrong. He went on to say that the trash bags were a fundraiser for the new Las Vegas Civitan Club. Then he told me that the organization provided service to communities with an emphasis of helping individuals with developmental disabilities. My jaw dropped. My sister had been diagnosed as a “slow learner” in the 1960’s and others in my family were affected by disabilities. He invited me to a lunch meeting and then to join the new club as a charter member in May of 1989. It as at that time that my dedication and passion for this organization began! The owner’s name was Mark Anderson and he was my member sponsor!
Please share more about your vision as EVP, what are your goals for the organization?
Over the years, membership in service club organizations have progressively decreased. With that decrease, dues income decreases with it. Then the pandemic hit and these organizations were hit hard. To solve for that, we must focus on the growth of the organization which includes building new clubs, recruiting new members and retaining the Civitans we have. Second, I heard that we have done a great job on controlling expenses and raising money for our flagship project, the great Civitan International Research Center, but we need to have new sources of income for the overall organization to be less dependent on dues income alone. So we will be looking for grant opportunities, new fundraisers, corporate sponsors and more, to be able to provide more support for Regions, Clubs and Civitans, possibly to increase our grants to clubs and scholarships to Civitan families.
What are some of your areas of focus?
Growth and Revenue are two focuses of mine which are described above. Additionally, the third focus is on unifying the organization. Civitan is poised for growth and we have a Civitan Creed with the Golden Rule that we all commit to. Like this country we have been split on the ideas and how to change. I’m excited that the new stage is set and we have new bylaws that provides us many of the avenues that have previously limited our growth. I share the story of Past International President Mike Brown. Mike lived the Civitan Creed, every single line of the creed. We all need to “Be Like Mike”. We need to focus on the passion we have for our beloved organization and join together to focus on the positive things and the goals of this organization.
Has there been a moment during your time as a Civitan that gave you purpose and reminds you why you joined? Tell us about that time.
There have been quite a few times, but most have to do with the Civitan International Research Center and club building. Over the years, others in my family have been affected by Multiple Sclerosis and Alzheimer’s for example. Even before I knew these family members were affected, CIRC was researching prevention and treatments. After the charter of a new Civitan club, the new Civitans begin organizing and completing some amazing service projects. It feels like a parent that is witnessing their children have successful moments or events. It makes you so overwhelmed with pride. You can only do so much as one person but when you charter a club you witness 30 new Civitans and the impact they can make.
What opportunities for growth do you see for Civitan?
There have been many signs that Growth is coming soon! Dee Hutsler started recruiting volunteer club builders before the Civitan International convention. This was very successful as over 40 Civitans signed up for the “1917 Club” as a club of builders based on the year we were founded. Other positive growth updates include my wife Denise Phelps, our friend Jenny Burd Rogers, and I built a new family club as a new club model pilot and the Bylaws passed which will more opportunities for growth and benefits for members. This list goes on which gives us great hope of this being a year of growth!
If you were recruiting a new Civitan, what is the elevator pitch you use to persuade them?
If someone asks me about Civitan, I will say “Civitan is a world wide organization providing service and research for people with disabilities. Can you give me your email address or phone number so I can get you more information?” Then you build a relationship with that person and invite them to help with a service project, social or meeting. This is a great way to introduce someone to the club and the impact they can make.
The new campaign this year is “We Are Civitan” and it focuses on our six values as an organization. What does WE ARE CIVITAN mean to you?
Our Civitan Creed begins with I Am Civitan! But none of us can make a difference alone. We gather together for Service, Knowledge and Fellowship. Our core values add additional aspects of Civitans coming together to make a difference. All of this adds up to how we can do more together! More service, more funding, more learning and together – We Are Civitan!
Our team is looking forward to the new Civitan year and to all the growth this year will bring!