Champions by Year
Dr. Jerry Fortino
In 2006, at the age of 72, Dr. Jerry Fortino launched the restoration of the main entrance to City Park. Once a grand symbol for the City of New Orleans, the grounds and magnificent trees that lined the boulevard were destroyed by Katrina. But through Dr. Fortino’s leadership and support from Rotary Club members worldwide, the entrance was reborn as a majestic avenue of live oaks and crepe myrtles.
With the sitting Rotary District 6840 governor exiled by the storm, Dr. Fortino assumed responsibility for these Louisiana and Mississippi clubs. Eager to help rebuild the ravaged area but limited in the types of projects they could support, Jerry and the Rotarians agreed to help rejuvenate City Park. Jerry saw this project as a symbol of the resilient New Orleans spirit – alive and welcoming its citizens to a cherished public space. Since he was not the official Rotary district governor, Jerry lacked the authority to even open a bank account. But by the summer of 2007, Dr. Fortino helped steer over two million Rotary dollars into the district – this from an organization whose mission is primarily to provide humanitarian assistance to developing countries.
An active pediatrician and Rotarian, Fortino has developed a lifetime of contacts and connections. He has spent decades honing his ability to understand and connectwith people. He has grown adept at maneuvering through bureaucracies to make things happen. And the friends he made around the world through the Rotary continue to make things happen in New Orleans. Dr. Fortino recently won a Rotary Grant for over $150,000 for improvements to soccer fields and baseball diamonds in City Park – perhaps the first ever Rotary International Grant for work in the U.S. instead of a third-world nation.
Translating a world of experience into excellence at home.