By Julie Ann Madden
For Lions Clubs, Iowa is divided into seven districts, and each district is overseen by a district governor.
On July 1, one of Akron’s own began as Northwest Iowa Lions’ District Governor.
Stefan Sandberg, along with his wife, Kay, have begun the duties of District Governor and Partner-In-Service.
As District Governor, Stefan is responsible for all the clubs in the Northwest Iowa Lions’ District. There are 46 clubs with 1,050 members in this district, which covers the northwest corner of Iowa east to Fort Dodge and south to Iowa Highway 30.
According to Stefan, district governors’ list of duties increases every year. This year he is responsible for Northwest Iowa Lions Clubs’ recruiting, training and troubleshooting. The couple will visit each of the district’s Lions Clubs, celebrating each group’s triumphs and helping each solve their challenges.
One of Kay’s specific responsibilities is to serve as the District Convention’s chairperson. This convention is set for March 2014 at King’s Pointe Resort in Storm Lake.
My overall duty is to “support the district governor in anything he does” said Kay, who goes along on all the club visits, often making sure Stefan stays awake on the drives home.
Although Stefan was elected to serve as District Governor, which is a one-year term, the Lions’ journey to this position began three years ago. Stefan served as Second Vice District Commander, then First Vice District Commander before becoming District Governor.
Stefan joined the Akron Lions Club in 1993 and has been on the Board of Directors since 1994. He has served as club president twice and has been the editor to the Club’s Newsletter since 1998. He has participated in every service activity of the club and was elected Lion Of The Year in 1998. On the district and state Lions’ level, he has served as the District’s Lions Club International Foundation coordinator for five years; been a Iowa Lions Foundation trustee for three years; been a Personal Donation Pin Committee of the Foundation chairman; State Diabetes chairperson; and served on the election committees for PID Dave Stoufer and ID Judy Hankom.
Stefan is a Progressive Melvin Jones Fellow and a Progressive Warren Coleman recipient and has received the International President’s Award and three International President’s Certificates of Appreciation.
Kay is a club treasurer and as well as Melvin Jones Fellow and Lion Of The Year Award.
The couple was elected Town Citizens Of The Year in Akron in 2012. They have been married for 35 years and have a son, daughter-in-law and grandson in the Kansas City, Mo., area.
As a Lions’ District Governor, Stefan created his own 30-member cabinet to help him serve the Lions in his district. From Akron, Bob Watson is his District Secretary and Angela Ericson is the Young Professionals Outreach Coordinator. A few of the other cabinet members are Colonel Glenn Markley of Rolfe, vice-district governor; Ray Ohlinger of Pocahontas, Iowa Lion Foundation trustee and District Membership guru; Leon Muhlbauer of Carroll, second Iowa Lion Foundation trustee; Ray Halterman of Grand Junction, district treasurer; Herman and Helen Kopitzke of Boone and Kim Willer of Sioux City, Iowa KidSight co-chairpersons; and Terry Hoefle of Grand Junction, Global Leadership chairperson;
“I’m really grateful for all of the people in the Akron club who have supported us,” said Stefan, noting he isn’t the first Akron Lion to serve in this position. John Ziniel served as District Governor in 2000-2001.
“We’re going to travel a lot — club visitations, award presentations, officer installations, board meetings, conferences and conventions,” said Stefan, explaining as District Governor they will also attend the other six District Conventions in Iowa and the Lions International Convention in Hamburg, Germany.
“It means a lot of time in the car, a lot of traveling across the state of Iowa,” said Kay, noting it is tiring.
“I’ve always wanted to do this,” said Stefan, who figures he’ll mark 20,000 miles on his car in the next year. “You can’t do it unless you’re not working. I wanted to do this as soon as I retired (which he did last summer).”
They were both looking forward to attending the international convention, which will include 750 incoming District Governors and another 30,000 Lions members from all around the world.
“The United States is still the biggest Lions’ country,” said Stefan, “but that’s not going to last more than a few more years. India will probably overtake us.”
Stefan sees three challenges he’ll face as District Governor in the next year: 1) Trying to start at least one new club somewhere in the district; 2) Helping prop up some of the old, tired, sickly clubs; and 3) Trying to help clubs modernize themselves to bridge the gap between the older meeting-going generation and the newer electronic generation who don’t like to come to meetings.
“We have 40 members in the Akron Lions,” said Kay, “and we’d like to see new members and more active members.”
“We have a very busy year ahead of us,” said Stefan, presenting The Akron Hometowner with his personal District Governor lapel pin, which contains his favorite saying, “Another Day In Paradise.”