Profile: Downtown San Jose Rotary President Interview

As you remember, I’m an exchange student from Belgium. To make this exchange year possible, I needed an association which is the Rotary. I have had the chance to interview the president of the San Jose Rotary Club, Karyn Sinunu-Towery, who is going to give us some explanations about herself, her career and the Rotary.


Karyn Sinunu-Towery, President of the San Jose Rotary Club (Tabatha Menten/Lincoln Lion Tales)

Who is she? 

Karyn Sinunu-Towery is a retired prosecutor. Now, she volunteers at the Nothern California Innocence Project (the organization revisits previous convictions of individuals who are believed to be innocent of their crimes). She’s married with a blended family. She has two adult children and three grandchildren. Her husband has one grown son and three grandchildren.  

The Rotary

“The Rotary is a worldwide service club whose goal is to provide service on a local, national and international level,” Karyn said. She joined this organization because her boss was a Rotarian, but she knew about the Rotary since she was a child. She stayed in it, even when her boss left the area because she loves the work the Rotary do.

“Internationally,” Karyn said, “I have been on 5 medical missions and 2 wheel chair missions. Locally — I have worked with children, seniors and those with disabilities. Through that service I have made long life friendship,” she explained. The Downtown San Jose Rotary club Karyn is President for has 450 active members and 20 honorary members. Their meetings are held once a week, Wednesdays at noon. During the meetings they review what some of the committees are planning for the near future, they report on past events, they introduce new members, they recognize Rotarians who are doing exceptional things in Rotary as well as in the community. They always have a guest speaker. For the meeting I attended, I spoke along with a handful of other speakers who spoke about a variety of topics. I was the only one to speak about my experience as an exchange student.

As a Rotarian myself, I know that the Downtown Rotary Club is but one within this a greater Rotary District. Karyn explained the difference between both:”Our club is based in downtown San Jose and members attend our weekly meetings in downtown San Jose. The district governs numerous clubs from Santa Cruz, outlying areas of San Jose and other cities north of San Jose.” 

Karyn has been president since July 1 of 2019. Her term is one year. The year before she was the president elect and she spent the year getting ready. 

The Exchange Program

Karyn said that the qualities of the Rotary exchange program are “we want the outstanding young students of our community to travel abroad and realize that we are actually part of a world community. We have many applicants and don’t need to twist arms.” For her, “it’s important because once students experience a different culture, they are often more compassionate, learned and better problem-solvers. Compassionate is also the word Karyn choose to describe the Rotary.” 

How to join the Rotary?

If you want to join the association, here’s the advice of Karyn: “You will need a sponsor and you must be able to articulate what you will bring to the club. You must attend a few of our meetings to see what we are all about. Once you are a member you can then follow your Rotary passion are work on club, community or international projects. We have over 40 committees so there is a lots from which to choose.”