History takes helm

History takes helm

It has taken 125 years, but on Jan. 1, 2008, the Old Dominion Boat Club will install its first woman president, Carolyn Dabney Bell.

I dont like to make a big deal of being the first woman president, Dabney Bell said. I prefer to talk about the fact that the members have elected me because they felt I was the best person for the job. The fact that I am a woman is a coincidence.

Dabney Bell has volunteered at ODBC for the last eight years serving on numerous committees and has been the Vice President for the past two years.  She was an Executive with US Airways for over 25 years, has a BA in Business from Robert Morris University and a MBA from Wheeling Jesuit University. 

Carolyn has worked really hard for our club and is determined to keep us on-track for a bright future, said Jim Dooley, Chairman of the Board. During Dabney Bells election speech to the membership, she stated, I will strengthen our financial standing by using improved technology, focus on process improvement of membership services, increase family opportunities which include our children and improve our internal communications.

The Boat Club was founded in 1880 on Alexandrias waterfront to bring water sports to the city. Today, that remains their mission.

We support adult and youth rowing and encourage those with a love of boating to become part of our community, Dabney Bell said. We hold regattas and sponsor trips up and down the river. We also sponsor a youth rowing program that rowers from a variety of area high schools enjoy.

The 700 members also contribute to charities around Alexandria. Each year they hold a Christmas party at the club for children with special needs. The club has also raised a significant amount of money for cancer research. (See page A6).

One of my goals as president is to consolidate all of our community service projects under one coordinator, Dabney Bell said. We do a lot but no one really knows just exactly what we do so it needs to be consolidated.

She will also focus on keeping the club where it is. For several years, the city has wished to obtain the clubs parking lot to remove parking from the waterfront.

We built this building in 1925 and want to remain here, Dabney Bell said. We have attorneys working on that and we are hopeful.