After serving as the governor of Rotary District 7930 for a year, Marblehead resident Alexander Falk recently concluded his tenure. The fact that a local was able to hold such a prestigious position within Rotary International brought a sense of pride to both the Rotary Club of Marblehead and the Rotary Club of Marblehead Harbor.
Falk’s term was marked by strong operations, including thorough training for incoming presidents, secretaries and treasurers, promoting environmental causes, fundraising for the Rotary Foundation and advocating the district’s commitment to eradicating polio worldwide.
“As district governor, you kind of handle, let’s call it, ‘the back-office operations’ for Rotary clubs in Northeastern Massachusetts and the Southern New Hampshire region,” Falk told the Marblehead Current. “You’re essentially responsible for 44 Rotary clubs and 1,500 Rotarians.”
In 1992, Falk, who is from Austria, founded Altova, a software company based in Vienna and specializing in software developer tools. After nearly a decade of growth, he relocated the business to the U.S. in 2001 to further expand. As the president and CEO of Altova, Falk manages a team of around 100 employees across offices in Vienna and Beverly. Several Rotary members commended his technological prowess and inclusive spirit.
“Falk is very knowledgeable about all things Rotary, hard-working, supportive and generous with his time and resources,” said Nancy Gwin, the immediate past president of the Rotary Club of Marblehead. “We have all greatly benefited from his leadership.”
Gwin described Falk as an “outstanding member” since he joined in December 2009. He served as the club’s president in 2018. The Rotary Club of Marblehead Harbor recently presented Falk with its Barry Weed Award, which is given in memory of the late charter member of the Harbor Rotary who also served as the district’s assistant treasurer.
“The award represents the caring, dedicated, community-oriented service for which Weed was known during his tenure as president of Marblehead’s National Grand Bank,” the club said in an email to the Current. “With his firm understanding of Rotary’s motto, ‘Service Above Self,’ and an impressive year leading District 7930’s 40-plus Rotary clubs, Falk was the Harbor Rotary’s clear choice for the special recognition.”
Rotary is a global network of 1.4 million individuals united by the common goal of creating lasting change. Their diverse initiatives span promoting peace, fighting diseases like polio and HIV/AIDS, providing clean water and sanitation, supporting maternal and child health, strengthening education and literacy, boosting local economies and tackling environmental issues.
Local Rotarians often carry out these goals through financial assistance, volunteer efforts and organizational support to local causes and projects. In Marblehead, Rotarians have awarded hundreds of thousands of dollars in academic scholarships and paid for kids to attend summer camp.
Moreover, Falk played a crucial role in providing financial support to Rotaries for their grant projects that run the gamut from bike racks to a service dog for an individual on the autism spectrum.
Falk has a passion for pollinators and promoted a “No Mow May” program, which encourages participants to let their grass grow un-cut for the month of May. This aids in the growth of wildflowers, creating habitat for early-season pollinators, especially in urban areas with limited space.
With the help of the local nonprofit Stone & Compass and the Rotary Interact Club, the Marblehead Rotary Club served over 100 homes, planting hundreds of milkweed plants and butterfly bushes in the Marblehead area.
Before becoming district governor, Falk spearheaded the revival of the Youth Exchange Program in Marblehead, offering international students the opportunity to immerse themselves in American culture and education.
Falk described his first trip to America in 1979 as transformative and eye-opening. He journeyed across the West Coast, spending time in San Francisco and Los Angeles, Arizona and Texas. He also visited Florida and New York.
“I really got to see the whole spectrum of diversity in landscapes and people,” Falk said, adding that the American landscape left him in awe. “Americans were so friendly.”
Alexander and his wife, Nora, are the proud parents of Calvin and Swanee Falk, and the family has, in many ways, adopted students.
“Alexander and Nora have opened their home for many years as host families for international students coming to the United States as part of the Rotary Youth Exchange Program,” Gwin said. “A generous spirit runs in their family!”