From The Top: John Gallagher, Rotary Club president

John Gallagher was installed president of the Rotary Club of Naperville last month.
John Gallagher was installed president of the Rotary Club of Naperville last month.

Being president of the Rotary Club of Naperville is no small task, but John Gallagher is more than capable of living up to the challenge. Gallagher was installed as the club’s new leader last month.

His predecessor Liz Zienty says that, first and foremost, her replacement lives by the Rotary mantra: “service above self.”

“John lives every day by the Rotary motto,” Zienty insists. “He’s going to provide great service to the club and be out there in the trenches. He also has a lot of great ideas about bringing Rotary more into the 21st century, including using ‘Skype’ to talk with other clubs as well as looking for ways to provide more service.”

Gallagher, 59, is the 75th president of the organization and has already worked for several years on various committees, which have given him a sense of the immense scope of the organization. His Rotary resume includes club service, membership, scholarship committee and sergeant, whose job is to levy fines on members to support the club’s scholarship fund.

Gallagher said a good friend invited him to a meeting eight years ago and that he quickly learned “what an amazing club” the Naperville Rotary is.

“The average club donation across the country is about $10,000 a year and ours in $350,000 a year,” Gallagher said. “When I left Downers Grove and moved here, people were telling me that Naperville was kind of ‘uppity,’ but what I found was that Naperville is special. There is a spirit of excellence here.”

Zienty said Rotarians’ actions are guided by a four-way test, which includes truth, being fair to all concerned, building good will and better friendships, and doing that which benefits all concerned. Gallagher said living the Rotary “way” was instilled in him years ago by his parents — long before he ever knew what Rotary was.

“I was brought up in a Christian home, and so I owe that ‘giving and serving others mentality’ to my parents,” he said. “Rotary provides a way for me to continue living with the values I grew up with. Hopefully as its leader this year, I’ll be able to lead with passion and those who have served before me have provided a great model to follow.”

Gallagher grew up in LaSalle, Illinois, and graduated from Northern Illinois University with a degree in business management. For 29 years, he has owned Exterior Designs Inc. a siding, window and roofing company he was inspired to launch after traveling all over the country as a manufacturer’s rep for exterior products.

He and his family have lived more than two decades in Naperville and are well connected in the community. In terms of his own goals for Rotary this year, Gallagher said he plans to work hard to bring more exposure “to the best-kept secret in Naperville.”

“There are 34,000 Rotary clubs throughout the world in more than 150 countries,” he said. “Here in Naperville, we have 250 Rotarians in four different clubs, but despite those numbers, we’re still the best-kept secret in Naperville. I want to expand on our public relations network and foster more relations in order to continue to give back.”

Gallagher said he wants to incorporate more technology into the club and plans to get youngsters involved to make that happen.

“When there are questions regarding computers and technology — we often finding ourselves turning to kids who know a lot more about these things,” he said. “My plan is to reach out to the schools. I’ve talked with people already at North Central about forming some kind of tech club there and having students receive credit for it. We’re looking at getting into the high schools as well.”

Gallagher also plans to reach out to other international clubs through satellite connections and to re-energize the Rotary Club student exchange program.

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