power of altruism
Clara Montanez is the current president of the Metro Bethesda Rotary Club (MBRC), in Bethesda, Maryland. Having been born and raised in Sogamoso, Colombia, Clara witnessed poverty all around her. She felt a need to become involved with an organization whose mission was to assuage poverty. In 2003, she was introduced to the MBRC, and once she joined, she never looked back. Rotary was made for Montanez, or maybe Montanez was made for rotary?
Clara Montanez is an internationalist, and she succeeded in having her rotary club agree to start a fellowship exchange with other Rotarians around the world. The first exchange was with another rotary club in Paris – Paris Academies. More than 20 French
Rotarians came to Washington and stayed in homes with other Rotarians, and the French Rotarians did the same when members from MBRC visited France. More exchanges took place in the following years and expanded to other cities: Santiago, Chile;
Rome, Italy, Edinburg and Scotland. This became the Capital Cities Connection. There is even a tree that was planted on the grounds
of the Capitol that celebrates the first exchange. The success of the Capital Cities Connection captured the attention of Rotarian leaders, so Montanez was soon appointed by the rotary president as the International Representative to the Organization of American States, 10 years ago. She has been reappointed several times until five years ago when she was moved to be Rotary
representative of the World Bank. From there, Clara was invited to curate and develop the first event celebrating International Women’s Day, in 2016. It became such a success that she was asked to continue each year, up until 2020. Again, she credits her friends Rich Carson and Jane Lawicki from the Rotary Club for helping her bring the event to fruition.
Clara grew up in the Washington, DC area and is a graduate of the American University in Washington, DC, with a degree in business administration. She moved to London soon afterwards, and through the London School of Economics she received a post graduate diploma in international and comparative politics.
She raised her two daughters, Julia and Sophia, in Bethesda. She credits her success to several women in her life but especially her sister, Maria. Maria hired Montanez to join her financial management practice in 1996 and showed her the ropes to
successfully navigate what is often considered a male-dominated arena. Meet the President of the Metro Bethesda Rotary Club
At Rotary, fellow Rotarian Doris Margolis took her under her wings to help her rise within the organization to accept positions of responsibility and leadership. The other positive influence was her mother who believed in her and never doubted
Montanez’s abilities to succeed. She was nominated to be president of the MBRC during the pandemic. She continued to manage
and lead the weekly meetings through Zoom and connecting with her club members. In the middle of the pandemic, the MBRC initiated and supported many local and international projects. Professionally, Clara Montanez is the Executive Director of Investments with Oppenheimer & Co., an investment bank based in New York City.
Montanez takes a holistic approach to investment management. She works with high net-worth families to help them with risk management, lifestyle advisory and family governance. She works with clients not only to build their wealth but also in wealth transfer strategies, to align with the clients’ values – whether it is for the next generation or for a philanthropic impact. This year marks 25 years in her practice, and she is now joined by her daughter, Sophia. Her clients live in more than 20 countries, around the world.
Clara is fluent in Spanish and French. Her two daughters, Julia and Sophia enjoy traveling, skiing, dancing, singing, cooking and gardening. Redux Extra reached out to Clara Montanez for an interview about the Metro Bethesda Rotary Club, and she generously provided a full picture of this respected organization.
RE: Please tell us about the Metro Bethesda Rotary Foundation.
Montanez: The Metro Bethesda Rotary Club Foundation is a non-profit corporation that supports the club’s efforts to provide humanitarian assistance locally and internationally and to promote peace, understanding, and educational and cultural advancement.
In recent years, the club has provided approximately $50K per year for community and international projects. Much of our funding has been matched by the foundations of other local clubs, our district, and rotary international.
MBRC Foundation Board members for 2021 include President Daniel Fischer, Treasurer Karl Miller, Secretary Ellen Singer, Archana Uppal, Russell Lacey, Dushanti Peiris, Reed Dewey and Alan Schulman.
The Metro Bethesda Rotary Foundation is the charitable arm for the service and charity work of the club. The foundation is managed independently by a board of directors consisting of members of MBRC. It is operated exclusively for educational and charitable purposes in accordance with Section 501(c)(3), of the Internal Revenue Code.
The Foundation is funded in multiple ways:
• Fundraisers including our Purple Tee Golf Tournament, which is taking place on September 23, 2021.
• Donations from MBRC members and other rotary clubs.
• Happy Bucks, a weekly club tradition In addition, the foundation is often able to obtain matching funds from District 7620 and foundations, in order to multiply the positive impact of its donations. The foundation has supported a variety of local and international projects and charitable organizations. Some recent examples include:
• Kids in Need Distributors (KIND) in Montgomery County, MD;
• Backpack & School Supply Project in Honduras;
• Congenital Heart Disease Project in Kenya and Alicante, Spain;
• People’s Science Institute System of Rice Intensification Project, in India;
• COVID-19 Project in Montgomery County, MD and [NW] DC.
The next cycle for grant submission will be during the summer, of 2021. A member of the club must bring any grant requests to the board and is responsible for completing the application and follow-up.