Happy New Year Rotary Alumni!
We wish everyone a happy, healthy and prosperous 2017! It was great to see so many of you at the Alumni brunch in St. Augustine in November. We are looking forward to planning Alumni social events and service projects in 2017. We are thinking about a social event in either Jacksonville or Deland in February.  Please Email us with suggestions on what would be fun. We are also looking for Alumni that might be willing to step into a leadership position in the association in 2017. Please Email us if you would like to be more involved.

We are thrilled to begin the year with first Member Spotlight. Periodically, this newsletter will turn the spotlight on a member who exemplifies the guiding principles of Rotary and who has made a difference in their profession, their community or the world.

Member Spotlight


John Caulfield,

​Mr. John Caulfield recently moved to Jacksonville and is a Charter Member of the District 6970 Alumni Association. A 1973 Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar in Brazil (at that time it was called the Rotary Fellowship Scholarship), Mr. Caulfield has retired from the US State Department after a distinguished, 40-year career. In his latest assignment, he served as Chief of Mission of the U.S. Interests Section in Havana, Cuba.  Prior to assuming his position in September 2011, Mr. Caulfield served as Chargé d' Affaires at the American Embassy in Caracas since July 2010. 
 Prior to Caracas, Mr. Caulfield was Consul General at the American Embassy in London. From 2002 to 2005 he was Deputy Chief of Mission at American Embassy in Lima, Peru. Before that, Mr. Caulfield held a variety of positions dealing with Latin America and Consular Affairs. He served as American Consul General in Manila, Philippines, and as Consul in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico. He has also directed the Office of Congressional and Public Affairs for the Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs. Earlier in his career, he served in Washington as Country Affairs Officer for Argentina and Brazil, and overseas in Colombia, the United Kingdom, Portugal and Brazil. Currently, Mr. Caulfield is a consultant for companies that want to expand into the Cuban market. 

​A Conversation with John Caulfield
Q. How have Rotary and your experiences as an Ambassadorial Scholar had an impact on you and your career?
A. Rotary has always been part of my life. I had studied abroad in Mexico City in my junior year of college. I was drawn to Brazil and wanted to learn Portuguese. I heard about the Rotary scholarship and I applied. Of the four or five candidates that were being interviewed, I was the only one that wanted to go to a developing nation. I was awarded the scholarship and went to Salvador, Brazil. I attended Rotary meetings and events throughout my time I Brazil.  I was always thinking about a career in diplomacy. I took the first part of the Foreign Service test while I was there.

Q. What was your biggest take-away from your time in Brazil?
A. At that time, Brazil was in the midst of a boom economy. The biggest lesson for me was the origins and vulnerabilities of the boom economy that Brazil was experiencing at the time. Brazil was importing all its oil and was very dependent on the producing nations. Rising prices oil prices expose a boom's vulnerability. 

Q. Your career took you to many countries. Does any particular experiences stand out as one of your strongest memories?
A. There have been so many, but one of the most dramatic experiences was when I went to Venezuela to start my position as the number two person in the embassy. I knew it would be a difficult situation and that our relations were not good with the government there.  I arrived and was to start my new job in a few days when President Chavez expelled our ambassador in the middle of a televised speech. I suddenly went from being the no. 2 person to no. 1 -- and I hadn't even started work yet. I was watching the speech when all three of my phone lines starting ringing.

Q. Let's talk about Cuba and how it compares to other Latin American countries you've lived in:
A. Every country I've been to is different, but there is something that sets Cuba apart. It's the sensation of walking back in time --The architecture, the cars and the day to day lives of the people.  What really astounded me was how much ordinary Cubans love Americans and how gracious and kind they were to us. Think about what they hear about us in their news every day, yet they still understand that what they hear in the media is not the case. Many Cubans have relatives in the United States and historically, there has always been a lot of movement between our countries. The economic assistance that the US relatives of Cubans provide literally puts food on the table for many Cuban families.

Q. Are you optimistic about Cuba's future?
A. Yes. Cuba is beginning a process of transition from the late 1950's to the current world. Part of that transition is that the revolutionary leadership is passing. The people that come after them will be at least 50 years younger and will have a different world view than their predecessors. The death of Fidel Castro is symbolic of that.
We have a historic opportunity to redefine the relationship between the US and Cuba and Cuba has the opportunity to redefine the relationship between its own citizens and its government.

Q. What should be the US's next step?
A. We have taken steps to end the isolation of Cuba. The more Cuba's isolation is ended, the more likely it will be that Cuba will become a modern nation. My view is that Cuba will look like other Latin American countries. It will look more like a Paraguay or an Uruguay. Cuba will catch up politically, socially and economically with these countries. There is a certain inevitability to history. The flow is toward more open economies and greater respect for citizens by their governments. This is certainly what I've seen over the past decades.

Q. What is the best course for Rotary as we work toward our ultimate goal of world peace?
A. Rotary is focusing on what is really important to towns, countries, and the world. Rotary is quite significant in Latin America. Rotary supports economic development in communities, education and civic values. These are key elements that help countries to develop.

Q. What advice do you have for Rotarians, or anyone that wants to do business in Cuba?
A. At this point, Cuba is on the verge of significant change, but it isn't there yet. When that change occurs, it will be rapid. For now, try to understand Cuba, its market and its potential. Make the connections so that when things do change, you're in a position to move quickly.

Q. So what should the United States do now?
A. Isolation of Cuba preserves the status quo. The best way to support change in Cuba, is to reduce the restrictions between our countries. Most Americans would like to see positive change in Cuba. The more open we are to Cuba, the more likely Cuba is to evolve in the direction of the rest of Latin America .

Q. What advice do you have for young Rotary Alumni considering a career in the Foreign Service?
A. My number one piece of advice to a young, educated person in the United States is to become fluent in a foreign language. Take advantage of programs to go abroad and actually study and live in that country.  Go work and teach English overseas. I can't think of a career that is more challenging, more exciting and more self-realizing than to represent your country abroad. When you go abroad, you see yourself and your country in a different way because you are removed from your home. We take for granted that we are who we are and we do things the way we do….but when you leave your environment and go somewhere else, you have greater insight into how we do things -- a broader perspective.

John Caulfield can be reached at