Las Vegas Southwest Rotary Newsletter

February 27, 2017

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    March 6 Program    

Pat Skorkowsky
Superintendent, Clark County School District

For the past 25 years, Pat Skorkowsky has served the students, parents, and community of Clark County as a teacher, site based and central office administrator, and now, as superintendent.

Skorkowsky began his career as a first-grade teacher at C. C. Ronnow Elementary School in August 1988. As recent college graduate, Skorkowsky had never been to Las Vegas before he flew into town for his first teaching job on a Sunday night, and started teaching the very next day. He also taught first and fifth grades at Kirk L. Adams Elementary School.

It was in the classroom where Skorkowsky developed his philosophy for teaching that drives the District today: “Every student in every classroom, without exceptions, without excuses.”

After achieving success in the classroom, Skorkowsky moved up the administrative ranks, where he served as assistant principal at Dorothy Eisenberg Elementary School, Marc Kahre Elementary School, and Walter Bracken Elementary School. He also served as principal of Doris French Elementary School, Thurman White Middle School, and was selected as the principal to open Del E. Webb Middle School.

Skorkowsky was promoted to academic manager in 2006, where he supervised the work of more than 100 schools. In August 2012, he was tapped as the District’s deputy superintendent, responsible for overseeing the District’s academic reform efforts as well as operational change. Rising through the ranks of the Clark County School District gave Skorkowsky a unique perspective on the challenges and opportunities facing the District.

In June 2013, Skorkowsky was named superintendent of the nation’s fifth-largest school district, with more than 315,000 students, 38,000 employees, and 357 schools and several satellite offices.

Skorkowsky worked with the Board of Trustees to outline six goals linked to the district's "Pledge of Achievement" action plan: increasing third-grade literacy, decreasing achievement gaps, increasing the graduation rate, increasing family engagement, increasing student safety and happiness, and increasing participation in both career and technical education, and Advanced Placement classes.

Skorkowsky grew up in a small town in central Oklahoma. He received his associate’s degree in Science from St. Gregory’s University in Oklahoma, a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from Oklahoma State University, and a master’s degree in Educational Administration from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. In November, 2013, Skorkowsky was named the UNLV Alumni of the Year for the College of Education.


March 13: Dan Stover Music Competition

March 20: Rob Lang, Brookings Institute

March 27: Virginia Valentine, president, Nevada Resort Association

April 3: Dark (Gold Raffle)




Conducting: President Rebecca Collett (who immediately turned over the gavel to Past-President Eric Colvin as she claimed she had “Jury Duty” and whereupon she promptly fled the premises);Invocation: Fred Fukumoto; Photos: Ted Henderson; Ms. Mic: Jordana Lane; Newsletter: Obadiah Dogberry; Raffle: Adrienne Cox



Pepe Charles’ guest was John Miller, vintner and aspiring banker (we’ll talk him out of that…the banking part, that is).

Brian Dziedziak (I think we should change Brian’s name to something easier to spell) was accompanied by his guest and fellow cohort from the Ribeiro companies – Dan Laliberte (who lamented the fact that he was not more closely related to “Guy”).

Jordana Lane's guest (for about the first 10 minutes of the meeting) was Joe Wittenwiler – a fellow runner and local loan officer.

Visiting Rotarians:  

Chip Ross – visiting from the Sunrise Club on Vancouver Island, Canada (who lamented the fact that he didn’t have any snow to shovel this morning).




Karen Strawn reminded everyone about the Gold Raffle to be held on 4/6 at the Opportunity Village campus on South Buffalo.  Guests are free.  Sell tickets.  Have a good time.  Win lots of gold ($10,000!!!!)  And please sign up to provide auction items.

Green Chips is holding there annual sustainability summit Convene For Green Thursday, March 9 from 1 to 7 p.m. where they will have panels on health care access, Nevada's energy future and urban farming. Cost is $50. To register please visit Some will remember Green Chips' Executive Director Lauren Boitel came and spoke to the Club in 2016.

Past Presidents in attendance:

Gib Oswald – 1975 (always started his meetings with a joke so he told a great joke which of course has slipped out of my memory.  Later, when asked if he still sold “guns, drugs, and booze”, stated “Nope, now I take them!  For newer members, ask one of the older members the significance of the “guns, drugs, and booze” reference.)

Fred Kennedy – 1978 (says he now has 25 great grandchildren but when queried about the number of his children, responded “Hmmm, I don’t know.)

Vern Ratzlaff – 1983 (spending most of his time between Vegas and Utah.  Still auctioneering and will be again doing the honors at our Gold Raffle.”

Ralph Cadwallader – 1988 (regaled the members with tales of the great debunking “food fight” which resulted in the Las Vegas Southwest Rotary Club receiving a letter banning the club from the Si Redd Room forever.)

Charlie Mack – 1989 (always erudite and surely must have said something profound, but, alas, your scribe’s notes are silent.)

Bruce Pope – 1994

Tom Martin – 1995

Joanne Blystone – 1996

Bryan Dziedziak – 2000

Ed Jamison – 2001 (said he only shaves and showers on Sunday and Wednesday’s and only remembered at the last minute that he had to be at today’s meeting and fortunately so, since he had just enough time to shave and shower and who couldn’t resist sorting the table pot money at his table in the proper banking way…which he subsequently won!)

Keith Thomas – 2003

Adrienne Cox – 2004

Eric Colvin – 2006

Doug Malan – 2007

Dee Paul – 2008 (now an empty nester and spending his time consulting and looking for more opportunities – and still traipsing around the world every chance he gets)

Melissa Copeland – 2010 (busy working and loving life now that she is back in Vegas)

Troy Lochhead – 2012

Donnie Garritano - 2013


New Member Induction:

Joe Wittenwiler, Senior Loan Officer, Cross Country Mortgage

As introduced by Jack Woodcock:

"Joe was born and raised in Margate, NJ just outside of Atlantic City. It is a coastal city very typical town 5 blocks wide.  Grew up on the ocean. To this day I understand the Jersey shore is just beautiful.  Mom & Dad and Baby Sister were his family.

On the day his sister was born Dad bought a 10 ac gravel pit  and slowly started filling it up.. After almost 1000 trash loads he turned it into a junk yard, they liked to refer to it an "automotive recycling center.  Doesn’t that sound like how someone from NJ would describe it? Most of his life lessons were learned there. The way Dad ran the business, the way he treated his employees, the warranties he stood behind, always doing what he said he would do. They ran an incredible business there for 30 years.  Joe went to work with his Dad when he was a junior in high school in what they referred to as the Work Program.  Cooperative Education. This was a high school program where his Teacher would check on him. Much like a Trade School today. A program for kids that knew they would not be going to college. He was not an academic. He was more a people person who liked to build things and was good at being a manager. When he was in high school he’d buy cars, fix them up and sell them to his classmates. Met his first wife at high school, Senior Picture Day. He and Theresa were married for 7 years. He was 20 years old at the time. Their marriage started out as the result of a family tragedy when Theresa's brother was killed when crossing a freeway on foot. He looks back at the emotion surrounding that incident and what prompted them to get together. They had 2 kids, Amanda is now 22 years old and Kyle is 20. They both still live in South Jersey.

He and wife Taryn met when she was at the beach for the summer in 2002. She was getting prepared to go to law school. They commuted for 2 hours from his home to Hoboken for her first year. In her second year, they bought a Condo halfway between and each commuted 1 hour for 2 years.  When she graduated from law school, she had an offer from a large firm in Princeton. She took the job with a little encouragement from Joe.  This was when the family decided to either sell the business or have Joe run it. They sold.  Joe and Taryn bought a house in Yardley, PA.

Joe was introduced into the mortgage business by the lender he used to buy the house. This was right when the market was taking a dive. He did well in spite of the market. In 4 years he was producing more than the VP of the company. His business was built mostly on referrals.  Meanwhile, Taryn hated the law business. She changed firms after about 2 years, and then started with a temp agency doing contract law. He was doing well making money in the loan business, however, Taryn just despised the law business, meanwhile her Mom lived in Las Vegas where they came to visit a couple times a year. They had just returned from a visit in the Fall/Winter. It was very cold. Snowy, miserable. They had 82 inches of snow that winter. She came in one morning all wrapped up with only her eyes showing. She said I hate it here. Joe called his realtor friend and said "list our house we are moving". They had been married for 2 years but they were on their way to a 25-day honey moon trip they delayed and saved up  for. They went to Australia, New Zealand, and Bora Bora. On their arrival in New Zealand, he had a message that they had an offer on their house. This was January 2010. When they sold their house, Taryn finished her job, they stayed in an extended-stay hotel for a month and moved to Vegas. He continued working for the same mortgage company by phone, originating loans in NJ and PA for six months. Taryn went to work at Total Wine and is now a 3rd grade school teacher and has a pet sitting business. They are both animal people. At one time, they had 5 animals - 3 dogs and 2 cats. She now takes care of pets in their home or at the clients home.   She took care of  Wayne Newton's  penguin, Charlie, for a year. He probably had 30-40 birds, rather disgusting. After leaving the mortgage business, he got introduced to the Insurance business. He did insurance and family planning 2 years with Country Financial with a focus on property casualty. In those 2 years he did some life insurance. However, he felt he was bothering people selling insurance. A  very good realtor friend introduced him back into the mortgage business about a year and half ago and he has moved back into his old office where he once wrote insurance policies and is now doing mortgages again. As a loan officer he makes residential loans. He loves working with first-time home buyers. This takes him back to his roots where he learned his life lessons in the junk yard management business. His goal is not volume, he wants to work with a few good realtors and do a really good job. He wants to keep life simple for him and Taryn. He met Jordana in a running club. They did a race in Los Coyotes, CA a few months ago. She suggested our Rotary club. This all ties into why Joe is here today. He feels it is time to give back to humans, not just animals."


PAY YOUR BILL! It's really easy!  Reminder: It is your duty to keep up to date on invoices and up-to-date bills will be sent to all members. The Club recently instituted on-site credit card payment so any member can pay their bill at any meeting. If you don’t know how much you owe, just ask Elaine (she’s keeping a list and checking it twice).

Terry Wright, chairman, Nevada Title & Randy Black, developer

Our speakers were Terry Wright (Nevada Title) and Randy Black (developer) who spoke on the topic “When deals were done on napkins” and the only financing was from the Teamsters or Perry Thomas at Valley Bank and how the advent of the big casino/resort like the Wynn changed the focus from gambling/entertainment/retail to retail/entertainment/gambling.


Pass it on...

We encourage you to share this newsletter with your family, friends and co-workers or anyone whom you feel might be interested in Rotary and joining an organization dedicated to building a better world.

Club meetings are Monday's from 12:00pm - 1:30pm at Lawry’s The Prime Rib located at 4043 Howard Hughes Pkwy, Las Vegas, NV 89169. Please check the Club’s website for meeting times and events at

Yours in Rotary Service,

Rebecca Collett
President 2016-2017