Scott Isaacks: Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center

November 8, 2016 – In honor of our veterans our club received a message this week from Scott Isaacks, the Director of the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center here in Charleston.  Isaacks has been with the VA since 1992, serving in various roles across the country including Miami, Florida, and Amarillo, Texas, before becoming coming to Charleston to serve first as Associate Director in 2010 and now as Director beginning in 2014.  He received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Miami and an MBA from the University of Tennessee. 

The VA is the second largest federal agency being surpassed only by the Department of Defense.  It operates 152 medical centers across the country and is the largest single integrated system in our nation.  Charleston’s VA Medical Center is the fifth largest in the United States.  Isaacks explained that his agency serves veterans not only at the center, but at six clinics spanning the coast from Myrtle Beach to Savannah.  Read more

Lee Allen: Development in Charleston

November 1, 2016:  Our speaker was Lee Allen, Executive Vice President of JLL, a corporate real estate firm that specializes in broker management services.  Lee is a graduate of the University of the South. He began his career by serving in the Peace Corp for two years in Africa.

JLL in Charleston area is an off sheet of a nationwide organization that established a presence in Charleston in 2014.  While Charleston has always been a wonderful place to live,  in the past few years it has become a much sought after region for the location of commercial services.  Is has a very strong presence in the automotive and aviation fields. Read more

Senator Tim Scott: Issues Facing Voters in Our State

October 25, 2016 – Our keynote speaker this week was Senator Tim Scott (“Senator Scott”).  Senator Scott answered numerous questions from our Club members regarding the various issues facing South Carolina voters. 

Senator Scott spoke about the effects of Hurricane Matthew and the devastation that occurred in other areas of the State such as Edisto and the Pee Dee.  Senator Scott informed us that in lieu of his annual barbecue fundraiser at the Founders Hall at Charles Towne Landing he has decided to turn the event into an opportunity to help residents across the State who are dealing with the lasting effects of Hurricane Matthew.  He invited us all to attend the non-partisan event on October 27, 2016, wherein canned food, supplies and monetary donations will be collected for the Lowcountry Food Bank and the Lowcountry chapter of the American Red Cross. Read more

Rae Wooten: Charleston County Coroner

October 18, 2016:  This week’s feature speaker was Rae Wooten, Charleston County Coroner.

Born in Columbia, her family moved to Charleston 1973.  She received a Bachelor of Science in Nursing.  In 2006 she was chosen by Governor to be Coroner when the previous Coroner resigned.  After serving in the capacity she was elected Coroner in Nov. 2008.

Ms. Wooten stated that a large part of her job is conducting interviews, researching records, etc. on deaths.  She also teaches about ‘death investigations’ across the country and is a Fellow of the American Board of Medicine / Death Investigators, etc.

Drug deaths are big problem in SC and on the rise.  Charleston has a problem that is same for the entire country: Heroin.  Heroin cases have dramatically increased in recent years.  28+ heroin deaths in 2016 alone. There have been between 17 to 20 other “opiate” / prescription deaths.  Her message is that we need to teach kids the dangers of drugs/addition.  We simply can’t build enough rehab centers, hospitals, etc.  When talking to kids, she likes to related drugs to Solo cups, telling them if they saw a cup on the street filled with a liquid they wouldn’t drink it, yet drugs are the same thing.  They have no idea where the drugs come from. Read more

Michael Smith: Charleston Symphony Orchestra

Oct. 11, 2016:  After a week of nailing up ply board, clearing outside furniture and loading up for evacuations, Rotarians assembled at the Harbor Club to celebrate their good fortune in being spared from the potential catastrophe of Hurricane Matthew.  It was a fitting and perfect program to have as our guest speaker someone to talk about the magic and inspiration of arts—and of survival. 

It was not long ago that the Charleston Symphony Orchestra (CSO) was fighting for its life as the economic downturn dramatically impacted ticket sales.  This difficult position was played out all over the country as arts organizations struggled for their very existence.  Added to the challenge was the very long—although ultimately spectacular!—renovation of the Gaillard Center that kept local arts organizations out of their regular performing venue. 

So how did the CSO survive and thrive to become one of the most respected symphonies in the country?  The answer is, as usual, extraordinary leadership–the right person at the right time.  In this case, the outstanding leadership of our speaker, Michael Smith, the Executive Director of the Charleston Symphony Orchestra.  Read more