October 1st is the start of a new Civitan year for our organization and we are excited to welcome our new Civitan International President, Kearney D. Hutsler! In this article, Dee shares his thoughts, plans, and goals for the upcoming Civitan year.

When did you join Civitan and how did that happen? 

In August 1994, my law office partner, Greg Kennemer was President of ACTION Civitan in Birmingham, Alabama. He needed another new members to join in order to have enough members to achieve Honor Club. I agreed to join and I’ve been a member that club ever since. 

What are some of your favorite Civitan accomplishments? 

My favorite accomplishments all involve a great deal of help from Civitans around me. For instance, I was Distinguished Governor of Alabama Central District for 2006-2007. In order to achieve that honor, we had to manage the District successfully with a budget, board meetings, and member meetings. We had a convention for about 90 district members that included a workshop, voting and a closing ceremony. We built three new clubs in Alabama Central that year. All of these accomplishments and all of this work was done by a team of Alabama Central Civitans that worked together and made it all happen. The result was a Quality Achievement District and my Distinguished Governor Award. Although I worked hard for this accomplishment, it was the result of many hands; of many wonderful Civitans! 

Why did you run for this position (CI President)?  

I have wanted to run for president for some time, but I still work full time and it never seemed convenient. Then, COVID happened. Civitan went through a rough time with the pandemic and I knew it was time to step up. Coach Bear Bryant, most known for his time at The University of Alabama once said, “Mama called. And when Mama calls, then you just have to come running.” I’m nobody special, but I did hear the call.

What are your goals during your time as President? 

My focus is on growth. My focus is on spreading the good news that Civitan is a quality organization and a great group of folks to join and serve your community. Our local clubs are helping folks less fortunate and we need help. Growth is about helping more people and helping more communities.

What’s ahead for the organization in your opinion and how do you see the board’s role in the future?

Some people think service clubs like Civitan won’t be here in 10 years. Not me. I think service clubs will always be important. It may not be in the exact form we have now, but serving your community will never be out of date. Community service is human nature. It is ingrained in all of us. So, we need to be open to new ideas (like Zoom for instance) but Civitan is going to outlive all of us.  Regarding the Board, in my opinion, I do not see a change in its role. The Board’s role is to provide oversight for Civitan International. It does not run the day-to-day operations. But every nonprofit needs a Board of Directors.

You have a focus on the concept of WOOP (Wish, Outcome, Obstacle and Plan), please share more about that thought process.

WOOP is a process of positive thinking that includes a tiny bit of pessimism. While you focus on your positive goal, you also plan for obstacles and how to overcome them. This process was developed by a professor at New York University. The result is that you are much more likely to reach your goal by thinking this way. This way of thinking is very helpful in club building. If you envision obstacles, you can plan around them. And, “Poof”, there’s a new club in a new town helping new people.

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? 

I love the new slogan! I have always felt the creed should start off that way. Yes, “I am Civitan”. I am an individual who gives back to my community. But the foundation of Civitan is that we can accomplish more together. So, together, “We are Civitan”. 

Finally, I want to say that I hope everyone in Civitan has a successful and enjoyable year. I hope your projects are meaningful to you and those you serve and, at the end of the day, you find satisfaction in knowing you gave someone a helping hand.

Civitans near and far are excited for the upcoming year. There are exciting things planned to grow the organization across the globe. Stay tuned throughout the year for updates on the work of the 1917 Club, which is a special group of club builders led by our new Civitan President! If you are interested in joining the 1917 Club, please fill out the interest form at this link: https://civitan.org/1917-club-interest-form/