About Our District

Rotary District 5190 encompasses the California Mother Lode, Northeastern California and the vast area of Northern Nevada. The District size is roughly 80,000 square miles and includes a wide diversity of terrain and climates.

A History of Rotary District 5190: 1915-2012

In 1915 officers of Rotary International recognized the need for more efficient administration of the rapidly growing, geographically widespread number of clubs being chartered. A worldwide division into Rotary Districts resulted. District 13 was comprised of clubs from California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico and Hawaii. Henry Brunnier of the Rotary Club of San Francisco was elected District Governor of District 13 for the Rotary year 1915 -1916. Brunnier was followed in 1916-1917 by Homer Sumption of the Rotary Club of San Diego. The Rotary Club of Reno, the oldest club in present-day District 5190, was chartered under Sumption's governorship.


Then, in 1918 the designation of District 13 was changed to District 23. Chartering of new clubs was relatively slow in these early years because the central office believed a service area population of at least 30,000 was necessary in order for a club to exist and function successfully. Eventually, when RI removed this requirement, growth accelerated. In 1922 the designation changed again, from District 23 to District 2. This district was now made up of clubs from California, Nevada, Hawaii and Mexico. Now the chartering of new clubs exceeded all expectations, and as a result District 2 was split into five districts in 1937. Northern California and Nevada became District 105. Growth continued, and many new clubs were chartered in Northern California as well as three more in Nevada.


After 10 years, in 1947, it was time for another division of the district. District 109 was split from District 105 and boundaries were reduced. Although the District 109 designation lasted only two years, six new clubs were chartered, including two in Nevada, during this period. Rotary International again changed designations in 1949 and former District 109 became District 164. We remained 164 until 1957, when continued growth of the district necessitated division once more. The district was split with Northern California being divided. The new district, number 519, now included the northeastern part of California from Walnut Grove on the south to the Oregon border and all of Nevada except for the southern tip (Las Vegas). In 1957 District 519 was comprised of 51 clubs with a total of 3315 members. During the ensuing years the chartering of new clubs in District 519 continued at a moderate pace. Also, a minor boundary change on the western edge of the district brought in two existing clubs, Gridley and West Sacramento.


By 1987 the district had grown to 64 Rotary Clubs, and it was becoming increasingly difficult for District Governors to perform their required duties in the time frame prescribed by Rotary International. Throughout the United States the proliferation of clubs had resulted in more and smaller districts. District 519 was now geographically one of the largest in the United States. A proposal to divide into two districts with 33 clubs in one and 31 clubs in the other was approved by the RI Board of Directors in 1988. However, a campaign by dissenting clubs was successful, and a poll of all clubs in the district resulted in a rejection of the split. Additional new clubs were chartered, and in 1990 a new proposal for splitting was put before the clubs of District 519 which now numbered 69 clubs with 4,456 members. This proposal divided the district along the ridge of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, but this was also rejected by the club members. In early 1991, the RI Board of Directors changed the district numbering system from three digit designations to four. District 519 became District 5190 in July, 1991. Club extension committees continued to be successful, and new clubs were chartered throughout the district.


Finally, a division meeting the approval of all clubs was proposed. New District 5180, comprised of 34 clubs in the Sacramento, Marysville/Yuba City and Oroville areas, was split off from 5190. Now, District 5190 was reduced to 46 clubs (45 after Lake Tahoe Southeast was disbanded). The district included most of Nevada, as before, and the foothill and mountain areas of Northeastern California. This division was effective July 1, 1995. Although the number of clubs in District 5190 was reduced, the geographical size still remains the largest in the 48 contiguous states.


As a result of Rotary International's Board of Director's decision in 2011 to eliminate District 5260 in Southern California (a district representing just over 900 Rotarians, which is far less than the required 1200 minimum per RI bylaws), three surrounding districts welcome those 33 clubs formally part of D5260 into their districts effective July 1, 2012. District 5190 is pleased to welcome 133 hard working Rotarians from the Bishop, Bishop Sunrise, Mammoth Lakes Noon and Mammoth Lakes Sunrise clubs.


Support of the Rotary Foundation has always placed us among the highest producing districts. In early 1987, in Concord, California, the final Sunday morning of PETS included a special meeting with the District Governor at that time, Paul Nielsen. For the first time, PDG Nielsen disclosed to the Presidents-elect a new RI program that was to be initiated throughout the District for 1987-88. The new PolioPlus program that had been created in the Philippines was to now go worldwide. It was announced at the meeting that RI's goal was to raise $120 Million US. PDG Nielsen gave each club president a target amount for their specific club that included an amount based on past foundation giving for each respective club. Most of the clubs in the district met or exceeded their goal. During that year the District was represented by 63 clubs that included the Rotary Club of Reno with 250 members and the Sacramento Club with nearly 500 members and raised $1.104 million US for the PolioPlus Program.


The clubs in our district have continuously been involved in international programs through World Community Service and the Foundation. We have participated with countries in Africa, Asia, Central and South America, Fiji, Russia, Romania and the Philippines.


Activities and programs for youth have always generated great support from the District 5190 clubs. Our district wide programs include Rotary Youth Exchange (RYE), where approximately 30 high school students from around the world come to live with host families and attend school in our local communities, learning about life and culture in the United States. Another 30 students from our District go "out" each year to explore the world in a yearlong cultural exchange while attending high school abroad. Rotary Youth Exchange builds world peace and understanding, one student at a time.


Another district wide program is Interact, with 26 active Interact clubs in various communities. Interact is a Rotary sponsored club for 12 to 18 year olds. With the change in age to 12 years (from 14) in 2010, the opportunity for Interact clubs has now expanded to 7th and 8th graders, and we have several active Interact clubs in these grades, in addition to the more traditional high school Interact clubs. Rotaract, Rotary sponsored clubs for ages 18-30, has been growing in importance and popularity in District 5190 with 4 clubs at present. Rotaract bridges that gap between high school and full Rotary membership with either college based or community based clubs.


Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA) is a premier leadership training opportunity for high school juniors in District 5190, with nearly 100% participation of our clubs in this valuable program. Our District continues to participate in RYLA with neighboring District 5180, as the camp started in 1988 when the two districts were one. Students come away from the week long experience at Grizzly Creek Ranch, near Portola, saying that it was a "life changing experience". More than 100 high school juniors from our District participate in RYLA each year, which has expanded to two sessions to accommodate the demand from our Rotary clubs to train our future leaders.


Similar to RYLA, the District started the Rotary Eighth Grade Leadership program (also known as Rotary Middle School Leadership in the Reno/Sparks area), a four day intensive leadership training seminar. The purpose of the project is to provide high quality leadership training, with a strong emphasis on ethics, to selected 8th grade students who have demonstrated leadership qualities. A 3-day residential program is piloting in 2012 to serve the more rural communities of our District.


The Group Study Exchange Program has been another Foundation Program strongly supported by the District. This program, involving successful non-Rotarian business and professional people, has seen District 5190 sending groups to and receiving groups from many countries around the world.


Each year District 5190 sends scholars abroad for a year or more of study under the Foundation Ambassadorial Scholarship Program. Generous membership support of the Rotary Foundation has enabled our district to make all of these programs available in our communities.


The once controversial issue of female membership in Rotary is now a distant memory. In 1987, Georgia Schultz was the Charter President of the Rotary Club of Ione. Since then, many of our clubs have elected women presidents. In 1997-1998 Lydia Frenzel served as our first woman District Governor. Wyn Spiller served as the second woman District Governor in 2008-2009 and was succeeded by District Governor Janice Gage in 2009-2010.


For many years, Sparks, Nevada was the traditional location for the District 5190 annual District Conference. George Ticknor, first District Governor of the most recently defined district, broke with tradition in 1995-1996, and the conference was held in Elko, Nevada. It returned to Sparks in 1997. The District Conference was held at Lake Tahoe in 1998 and 1999, at Tahoe City in 2000, and back to Reno in 2001. The 2002 Conference was held in Sparks, at the Atlantis in Reno in 2003 and in 2004 the conference was held at Granlibakken, Tahoe City. The 2005 conference was held at the Reno Hilton, while the 2006 & 2007 conferences were held at the Nugget in Sparks, with the 2008 and 2009 conferences being held at the Peppermill in Reno. The 2010 Conference was held at the Grand Sierra Resort in Reno. The 2011 District Conference was held at the Atlantis Casino Resort Spa in Reno and the 2012 Conference at John Ascuaga's Nugget in Sparks.


District 5190 has a history representative of the growth of Rotary, which in recent years has been through the chartering of sunrise or sunset Clubs. As an example, 2006-07 saw three new clubs chartered. The District recognized that we needed to find innovative ways to attract new members; we needed to create a Rotary Club for the next generation. The District was honored to charter the Reno New Generations Club on November 6, 2009 with 31 charter members and represents one of the very few non-traditional clubs in the United States. Due to confusion when the fifth avenue of service, New Generations, was approved by Rotary International, the Reno New Generations Club officially changed their name to Reno Midtown in 2012.