Dr. Charisse Jordan, a local physician in Boaz, will soon become president of the city’s Rotary Club on July 1, making her the first African American president in the club’s history.
Appointed president-elect several months ago, Jordan said she was grateful for the chance to serve.
“I thought it was a great opportunity … but the more I lead up to it, I’m like, nervous,” she said. “Because just listening to some of the past presidents and the leadership ability that they have — oh my gosh.
“It’s some big shoes to fill,” Jordan continued. “I’m not only representing on a local level, but it’s global. These leaders … I can’t even count the amount of years of leadership that’s in that room in Rotary as a whole. There’s a lot that’s going to be expected of me, and my biggest challenge will be, can I live up to it?”
Jordan is the owner of B+A Family Care Clinic in Albertville; she opened the facility a few months after moving to Marshall County with her husband, Charles Wilson. Still new to the area, Jordan said she lacks a few traits past presidents have had, but also brings a lot of different traits to the table.
“I’m out there,” she said. “I’m not afraid to put myself out there… If I see something, I go get it. If there’s a challenge for me, I figure that challenge out, and I go do it… and I’m inclusive. I want everyone on board with whatever we do.”
“I just love people,” Jordan added.
And caring for others is what Rotary is all about, Jordan said.
“Being a rotarian basically means to help out your common man,” she said. “It’s a mission. It’s basically giving your fellow man a hand … it’s as simple as that. Race, color, creed, it just doesn’t matter.”
Becoming the first African American president isn’t just a milestone for Jordan; she said it’s a remarkable milestone for the community.
“I told [my husband], ‘You know we’ve got to put this out there,’” she said. “Not being self-centered or anything like that, but for our community, you know, especially with the way that America is going, that says a lot.
“To me it means how far America has come, because you know it usually starts at the top and trickles down,” Jordan continued. “Usually the small communities are the last to embrace change… and for Boaz, I know when I was considering coming here, I had some reservations. In my 54 years, I have lived in many states and experienced a lot of bigotry. I have experienced subtleness where people don’t let you forget what race you are… But I have to say, here in Boaz, even though I am out numbered, I have felt nothing but love from this community and Marshall County. For a town what you’ve heard it used to be, for a town to overcome that, I think that’s huge. I think that tells a lot about the community… The way they have embraced me, I think, says a lot about the community… I believe that Boaz, being where they are and the people in the community themselves, I think people are just really reaching for being one.
“I think we’re usually afraid of what we don’t know,” she added. “I do know that prejudice is taught. We are not born that way. But I think that the way that it has come down through America, everyone’s becoming intertwined. And the way the world is right now, you’re almost as if color just isn’t — it’s about helping each other, and when someone else is down, and you just kind of forget color. They just need help, you know? … It just goes back to human nature.”
Jordan has great aspirations for the Rotary Club. She hopes to rejuvenate the local high schools’ Interact Clubs by having students be more involved in the Rotary Club projects. She also would like to start a Rotaract Club with Snead State Community College.
For current and prospective Rotary Club members, Jordan would like to offer more membership options, complete more local projects and host more social events.
Above all, Jordan wants to “energize” members and “renew their passion” for Rotary.
“The challenge that comes with this is instituting it all,” she said. “You know, how do we get things off the ground?”
Jordan said she would start with a survey for current members. The survey will show her what the club sees as priorities, what are members’ expectations and how those expectations can be met.
The Boaz Rotary Club normally meets at 12 p.m. every Wednesday at the Snead State Community College cafeteria.