Posted by Sharon Schendel on Jul 24, 2018
Our new president Don Fipps gave a brief Who Am I at the July 19, 2018 meeting. Don grew up in Bakersfield and attended Delano High School, where he made his first contact with Rotary through a scholarship that together with a ROTC scholarship helped him attend Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and major in biochemistry. After graduating, he undertook active duty in the US Army and was a Medical Platoon leader in the Fulda Gap in Germany. During his time there he also administered local outpatient health clinics- a challenge for a 22 year-old newlywed in a foreign country.
Don put on his “Dream Sheet” his desire to be stationed at the Walter Reed Medical Center where, in addition to being involved in medical testing activities, he performed HIV research and eventually earned a master’s degree in biology from Bowling Green State University. In the mid-90s he was in charge of the Army’s medical humanitarian assistance for Africa before retiring from the service in 1997 after having achieved the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. He then worked for the American Red Cross in Charlotte, North Carolina. There he was promoted to Vice President of Quality, a position based in Washington DC. Rather than uproot his family, Don commuted from Charlotte to DC every week. He left that position to become CEO of Northeastern Pennsylvania Blood Services region for the American Red Cross. While there, he first joined Rotary. From Pennsylvania he went to Sacramento where he was Vice President of Research at blood center there, but in 2012 the center downsized their research operations, leaving Don out of a job and having to forgo being president of the Rotary Club of West Sacramento (club motto: “Mighty is as mighty does”) when he and Donna moved to San Diego to work for UC San Diego.
Before Don and Donna moved to San Diego in 2012, he began looking for Rotary Clubs to join. He thought Rotary Club of Del Mar was appealing because its meetings were in an Episcopalian church. Don is newly retired from his position as Administrative Director of Clinical Laboratories for the UCSD Health System and is looking forward to devoting himself fully as club president for 2018-19.