Lions Clubs International Historical Overview

In 1917, a Chicago insurance agent named Melvin Jones convinced his luncheon club, the Business Circle of Chicago, that it should ally itself with other independent clubs to form a national organization that would be dedicated not only to networking for business and social purposes, but to the improvement of the community as a whole. Among the groups invited was the Association of Lions Clubs, which was headquartered in Evansville, Indiana, and led by Dr. W. P. Woods. At the time of the meeting on June 7, there were several Lions Clubs already in existence, some of which had been organized in 1916. These Lions Clubs were an outgrowth of a now-defunct fraternal organization called the Royal Order of Lions. The Business Circle of Chicago and other Clubs agreed to rally under the Lions name and a convention was scheduled for October 1917 in Dallas, Texas. Thirty-six delegates representing 22 clubs from nine states heeded the call and approved the “Lions Clubs” designation. Dr. Woods was elected as the first President. Guiding force and founder Melvin Jones was named acting Secretary, thus beginning an association with Lions that ended only with his death in 1961.

During the first convention, the members began to define what the Association was to become. A Constitution and By-laws were adopted, the colors of purple and gold approved, and a start made on developing the Lions Clubs Objects and Code of Ethics. Remarkably, considering the materialism of the era, both the Objects and Ethics encouraged Lions to put service ahead of profit, and to uphold the highest standards of conduct in business and other professions. Community leaders soon began to organize Clubs throughout the United States. The Association went “International” with the formation of a club in Windsor, Ontario, Canada in 1920. Clubs were later organized in Mexico, China, and Cuba. By 1927, membership stood at 60,000 in 1,183 Clubs.

In 1925, Helen Keller addressed the Lions International Convention in Cedar Point, Ohio. She challenged Lions to become “knights of the blind in the crusade against darkness.” From this time, Lions Clubs have been actively involved in service to the blind and visually impaired.

In 1935, Panama became home to the first Central American Lions Club with the first Club in South America being organized in Columbia the following year. Sweden, then France, brought Europe into the Association in 1948. Japan had clubs by 1952, and the “Eastern Bloc” was unblocked in 1989 with the formation of clubs in Hungary, Poland, and Estonia. In 1990, a Club was chartered in Moscow and today hundreds of Lions Clubs are demonstrating the value of service to one’s community in countries once closed to voluntary action.

In 1987, Lions Clubs International became the first major service organization to admit women as members. Lions Clubs International has grown to more than 1.4 million men and women in over 46,000 clubs located in 192 countries and geographic areas. Today, Lions extend their commitment to sight conservation through countless local efforts, as well as through their international SightFirst Program and Lions World Sight Day, a global partnership of United Nations agencies, eye care and philanthropic organizations and health professionals, held the second Thursday of each October to increase awareness of the need to eradicate blindness. Lions also collect and recycle eyeglasses for distribution in developing countries year-round and especially during May, which is Lions Recycle for Sight Month. In addition, Lions make a strong commitment to young people through youth outreach programs. Lions also work to improve the environment, build homes for the disabled, support diabetes education, conduct hearing programs and, through their foundation, provide disaster relief around the world. Based on a recent report of Lions Clubs worldwide, it is estimated that each year Lions clubs donate approximately $506 million and 71 million hours, which is equivalent to 34,000 people working full time for a year!

Melvin Jones - A Profile.

Melvin Jones was born on January 13, 1879, in Fort Thomas, Arizona, the son of a United States Army captain who commanded a troop of scouts. Later, his father was transferred and the family moved east. As a young man, Jones made his home in Chicago, Illinois, became associated with an insurance firm, and in 1913 formed his own agency. He soon joined the Business Circle, a businessmen’s luncheon group, and was shortly elected Secretary. This group was one of many at that time devoted solely to promoting the financial interests of their membership. Because of their limited appeal, they were destined to disappear. Melvin Jones, however, had other plans. “What if these men,” he asked, “who are successful because of their drive, intelligence and ambition, were to put their talents to work improving their communities?” Thus, at his invitation, delegates from men’s clubs met in Chicago to lay the groundwork for such an organization and on June 7, 1917, Lions Clubs International was born. It was stipulated that clubs were not to be social in nature nor were members permitted to promote their own business interests.

Jones eventually abandoned his insurance agency todevote himself full time to Lions at International Headquarters in Chicago. It was under his dynamic leadership that Lions Clubs earned the prestige necessary to attract civic-minded members. The Association’s founder was also recognized as a leader outside the Association. One of his greatest honors was in 1945 when he represented Lions Clubs International as a consultant in San Francisco, California, at the organization of the United Nations. Melvin Jones, the man whose personal code, “You can’t get very far until you start doing something for somebody else,” became a guiding principle for public-spirited people the world over, died June 1, 1961, at 82 years of age. The Lions International Melvin Jones Memorial is located in Fort Thomas, Arizona.

Helen Keller’s Speech at the 1925 Lions International Convention.

I suppose you have heard the legend that represents opportunity as a capricious lady, who knocks at every door but once, and if the door isn’t opened quickly, she passes on, never to return. And that is as it should be. Lovely, desirable ladies won’t wait. You have to go out and grab ‘em. I am your opportunity. I am knocking at your door. I want to be adopted. The legend doesn’t say what you are to do when several beautiful opportunities present themselves at the same door. I guess you have to choose the one you love best. I hope you will adopt me. I am the youngest here, and what I offer you is full of splendid opportunities for service.

The American Foundation for the Blind is only four years old. It grew out of the imperative needs of the blind, and was called into existence by the sightless themselves. It is national and international in scope and in importance. It represents the best and most enlightened thought on our subject that has been reached so far. Its object is to make the lives of the blind more worthwhile everywhere by increasing their economic value and giving them the joy of normal activity. Try to imagine how you would feel if you were suddenly stricken blind today. Picture yourself stumbling and groping at noonday as in the night; your work, your independence, gone. In that dark world wouldn’t you be glad if a friend took you by the hand and said, “Come with me and I will teach you how to do some of the things you used to do when you could see”? That is just the kind of friend the American Foundation is going to be to all the blind in this country if seeing people will give it the support it must have. You have heard how through a little word dropped from the fingers of another, a ray of light from another soul touched the darkness of my mind and I found myself, found the world, found God. It is because my teacher learned about me and broke through the dark, silent imprisonment which held me that I am able to work for myself and for others. It is the caring we want more than money. The gift without the sympathy and interest of the giver is empty. If you care, if we can make the people of this great country care, the blind will indeed triumph over blindness.

The opportunity I bring to you, Lions, is this: To foster and sponsor the work of the American Foundation for the Blind. Will you not help me hasten the day when there shall be no preventable blindness; no little deaf, blind child untaught; no blind man or woman unaided? I appeal to you Lions, you who have your sight, your hearing, you who are strong and brave and kind. Will you not constitute yourselves Knights of the Blind in this crusade against darkness? I thank you.


Early Lionism in New Mexico

NEW MEXICO'S FIRST LIONS CLUB. Who were these men who, by affixing their signatures to the application for membership previously presented for their consideration, and, further, by their very presence at that memorable meeting, were to be listed at a future day as the “Founding Fathers of Lionism,” not only in their own City, but in New Mexico as well?

Let us answer that question by recording not only who they were, but what they were, that those who have followed, and will follow, may honor them for their role, and that the few of that original group, who still survive, may know of such honor. And as we list their names and occupations, we do not contemplate the office that any one member thereof may have held in that first Lions Club in our state and city, but, rather the thought that the honors accorded them as “Founding Fathers” be shared equally by each. We extend Honors to:

Mr. V. S. Bentley, Commercial Traveler
Mr. Earl J. Brown, Retail Grocer
Mr. A. E. Bruce, Insurance
Mr. M. R. Buchanan, Ice Company
Mr. A. J. Coates, U.S. Veterans Bureau
Mr. W. A. Disque, Wholesale Grocer
Mr. Philip Hubbell, County Official
Mr. E. E. Harbert, Automobile Sales
Mr. John F. Linn, Transfer Company
Mr. H. E. Livingston, Office Supplies
Mr. Oscar M. Love, YMCA
Dr. E. C. Matthews, Oculist
Mr. Mayer Osoff, Ladies Wear
Mr. Price C. Pincham, Typewriters
Mr. George Roddy, Justice of the Peace
Dr. C. A. Schumaker, Dentist
Mr. Claude H. Spitzmesser, Retail Clothing
Mr. D. A. Watner, Attorney
Mr. H. V. Watson, Banker
Mr. Bernard Wiles, Gas & Electric Co.
Mr. Don T. Wilson, Auto Garage
Mr. S. T. Vann, Jeweler

These, then are the men whose names we inscribe upon the Honor Roll of Lionism in our state. That we may further be reminded of our beginning, let us recall that, on April 9, of that same year of 1923, six weeks prior to that initial meeting of the Albuquerque Lions Club, a similar meeting for like purpose, and, doubtless, with the same District Governor officiating, was held in the city of Phoenix, in our neighboring state of Arizona. With the two cities of Albuquerque and Phoenix serving as a nucleus, there was established an entirely new District with the numerical designation of District 21, Lions International, which was composed of the states of New Mexico and Arizona, and a portion of the state of California. It is interesting to note that up to and including the year 1928, five District Governors presided over the affairs of the newly created District: one from Los Angeles, two from Phoenix, and one each from Tucson and Albuquerque.

Isolated, with its nearest Lions Club neighbor on the North located in Colorado, on the East and South in Texas, and on the West in Arizona, the fledgling Albuquerque Club was compelled to maintain its identity and existence pretty much on its own until the year 1928, when a drastic change in the makeup and conduct of the affairs of our Association occurred in New Mexico.

It may be well to state here that I was not a Charter Member of the Albuquerque Lions Club, my membership dating from June 5, 1926, as attested by my certificate of membership carrying the original signature of our founder, the late Melvin Jones, whom I came to know quite well through the years, and who was, on several occasions, a guest in my home. Through service as an officer of my Club and three terms as District Governor of original District 40, followed by a year on the Executive Council of the International Board of Governors, it was my privilege to live through, and actually see made, a portion of the early history of Lionism, in New Mexico. I make the statement factually and not for the purpose of extracting kudos from the reader.

FROM ONE, MANY. But time marched on and the word was passed. In 1927, a second Club was organized in the city of Santa Fe, and by early 1928 a total of seventeen Clubs had been established in the state, listed here, but not necessarily in the order given: Alamogordo, Albuquerque, Artesia, Carlsbad, Clovis, Deming, Farmington, Gallup, Hot Springs, Las Cruces, Los Lunas, Portales, Roswell, Santa Fe, Tucumcari, Taos, and Texico-Farwell. These would be the Charter Clubs of a new District soon to be formed.

THE BIRTH OF DISTRICT 40. District 21 covered a large and diverse area, difficult to administer, both because of its size and localized interests of the three states it embraced. The affairs that commanded the interest of the Clubs of one member state were generally of small moment to the Clubs of the other two, as can readily be understood by those who know the extent of the area involved. Because of this fact, coupled with the realization of the growing numerical strength, both in Clubs and membership, of the other two states that formed the triumvirate, a feeling that New Mexico should seek independent status, free and clear of District 21, began to shape up in the minds of a number of our state’s members. That led to action and in early 1928 a petition, of unknown origin, was presented to the International headquarters of our Association requesting autonomous and independent the framework of the International structure. What happened to such petition, and what action, if any, was taken thereon, is an unsolved mystery. We have nodefinite knowledge regarding the process by which we became separated from District 21, nor do we know the source of the designation District 40. But whatever the process, formalization by the Clubs involved had to be undertaken if we were to assume the status we sought.

As a result, a call, also of unknown origin, went out some time in the latter part of 1928, for a meeting to be held in the city of Roswell. It suggested the representatives at such meeting be confined to Club Presidents and Secretaries, which meant that, at best, the total representation would not exceed thirty-four, a workable number. Here begins a blank in the history of our State Organization that would extend well into June of 1929, in which month and year the first legally initiated and convened general meeting of Lions of New Mexico would occur, a meeting that would be remembered as the first annual Convention of Lions of District 40.

DISTRICT 40's FIRST CONVENTION. It is unfortunate that no record was made of that 1928 call, who or what Club called it, nor do we know any definite dates connected with the affair. Nor could diligent search at the first convention uncover any minutes of that important organizational meeting, from which it can only be surmised that no minutes were made, or, if they were made, they had not been transcribed. As a result, the information, if such is the proper term, that follows is from sources considered reliable, which means that it must be accepted as hearsay. Instead of representation from the seventeen Clubs officially indicated as existing in the State, response was had from only five, from which we may deduce that the action taken at the session, or sessions, was the work of a maximum ten delegates, hardly to be considered a quorum. They debated this latter point and decided that since they were there, it would be wise to proceed with the business at hand, hoping for general acceptance at a later date. Since only five Clubs were represented at the meeting (the names of which are unknown today), it can be assumed that only five Clubs learned, through reports of their respective representative, what transpired at that meeting and were in position to make a reasonable assessment of its various transactions and act thereon. But no general action by the Clubs of the District was called for by the District’s officers and, it would appear that the entire procedure was pretty much a lesson in futility.

Three measures were undertaken by the assembled delegates: 1) a District Governor and District Secretary were chosen to serve until such time as a general District Convention could be convened; 2) such Convention was determined to be in the City of Carlsbad, in the month of June 1929; and 3) the new District Governor was instructed to have prepared and ready, a constitution and accompanying set of by-laws to be presented to, and acted upon, by the delegates assembled in such Convention. There may have beenother matters considered, but these were the three items of recognized importance which eventually would have had a marked effect on the affairs of the District had they been carried out in full.

From this time then, the vacuum was to continue until Wednesday, June 5, 1929. At nine o’clock that morning, the first general Convention of Lions of the State of New Mexico (recently given the numerical designation of District 40, Lions International) was called to order by E. K. Neumann, a lawyer and member of the Carlsbad Lions Club. Following the opening ceremonies, it was announced that the District Governor was not present, for which absence no reason could be established at the time. The District Secretary’s absence was also noted, he having left the State. We were also lacking in representation from the International organization, an absence which was to make itself felt, due to the inexperience of the delegates present. A roll call revealed the following Clubs represented: Alamogordo, Albuquerque, Artesia, Carlsbad, Las Cruces, Roswell and Tucumcari, resulting in a total delegate representation of twenty, considered to be a quorum. E. K. Neumann was selected as permanent Convention Chairman and A. J. Exter of Albuquerque was selected as Secretary. There was no order of business which brought to light the fact that neither the District Governor nor District Secretary had been involved in, nor assisted with, the planning and setting up of the meeting. Discussion brought out that the anticipated constitution with accompanying by-laws were not present, nor was any member present aware of any action having been taken thereon.

So there we were, right back where we started in Roswell the year previous. Without these basic operational items, there was no ground upon which to act as a District. We could elect District officers in a manner following procedure of the year before but we were not empowered to set up a financial program for operation of the District. We suddenly found ourselves confronted with the task that, presumably, had been accomplished the year before, which was, organize a new District.

Despite the lack of experience in such matters, the assembled delegates went at the task seriously and, before the meeting recessed that evening, a solid plan which was to endure had been set up and we were on our way. A point which came to light was that insofar as the several delegates could recall, none of the Clubs represented had been visited or contacted by the previously selected District officials. This failure, which later events were to prove, applied generally to the majority of Clubs in the District.

No great earth-shaking events came out of that meeting but as adjournment was had, a sense of accomplishment and determination that augured well for the future seemed to prevail. Approximately one hundred (according to the official minutes) Lions and their ladies, together with guests, attended a banquet that evening.

On Thursday, July 9, a short session was held in the King’s Room of Carlsbad Caverns for the purpose of selecting District officers to serve for fiscal year 1929-1930. Selected were: C. B. Beyer, Albuquerque Club, President; Fred Cole, Artesia Club, Vice-President; James Bujac, Carlsbad Club, Secretary. Tucumcari was selected as the site for the 1930 meeting and, with that action, the first District Convention of District 40, Lions International, came to anend.

A word about the foregoing statement regarding lack of constitution and bylaws. The standard forms of these items, as we know them today, had not come into being by 1929. Each District or Club devised its own within the framework of the International structure. As a result, the numbers of these important documents were myriad and varied, eventually bringing into being the necessity for standardization.

MELVIN JONES AIDS NM LIONISM. The minutes of the Carlsbad meeting were transcribed and copies sent to the several parties of interest, including the home office of Lions International, in Chicago. Shortly after such action, a letter was received from our Founder-International Secretary, Melvin Jones, stating that his office had been without contact from the immediate past District Governor. The letter also requested me to forward the information to the latter individual that, due service in office, he was entitled to an all expense paid trip to the 1929 International Convention to be held in Louisville, Kentucky, in the forthcoming month of July. The offer was forwarded as requested resulting in rejection thereof. The letter of rejection was forwarded intact to Secretary Jones, bringing a second letter tendering me a like offer, the result being my participation in the District Governors’ session, held as a part of the general convention in Louisville. A meeting with founder Melvin Jones at this session brought on a close friendship that was to endure until his death some thirty-two years later.

Up to this period I have tried to make this brief narrative impersonal, but events that were to follow necessitates use of the personal pronoun, principally, to paraphrase a popular TV program of a few years back, “I was there.” At the invitation of Secretary Jones, I detoured from the Louisville meeting to our Chicago headquarters to look over the records of District 40 and to learn something about how our International organization operated.

A check of the various Club files revealed a general lack of information. This resulted in a proposal from Secretary Jones that he would send Assistant Secretary Henry Hill to New Mexico to visit the various Clubs in the District, if I would agree to accompany him and take care of transportation on a mileage basis with Headquarters taking care of all other expenses. This plan was carried out, Assistant Secretary Hill arriving in Albuquerque about the third week in July. A visit was made to each of the cities wherein the official directory listed a Lions Club. We found that, of the seventeen Clubs in existence in 1928, as listed in the directory of that date, five (i.e., Portales, Los Lunas, Texico-Farwell, Gallup and Farmington) had given up the ghost and had not held meetings, in most cases, for months. The present trip was based on a tight schedule, the sole purpose of which was to learn, at first hand, the condition of each Club for determination of a general District-wide program for future operation, and time did not permit rehabilitation efforts at the moment, such action to come later. It is interesting to note that the Farmington Club was reorganized within a matter of weeks, the remaining four Clubs not being back into the fold until a period of ten or more years had passed.

REBUILDING DISTRICT 40. Following the trip with Assistant Secretary Hill, the International office began to push for a campaign to organize additional Clubs to replace those lost. My thought, however, was that we were not justified in asking any group of men to associate as a Club and affiliate with a District that was being held together with string and baling wire. Instead we undertook a District-wide campaign to add new members to our remaining Clubs which could give us the stability we needed to endure, an effort in which we were to succeed beyond our most optimistic expectations.

During that first period of our actual operation as a District, our nation was skidding with all speed-into the terrible depression of the early nineteen thirties, a period in which millions were out of work and actual suffering and deprivation were common stories in the newspapers. Despite this period, which was to adversely affect so many businesses, our effort toward new membership was successful to the point that District 40 was awarded first place in the International membership contest for fiscal 1929-1930.

This momentum was to be carried forward for thenext two years I was permitted to serve as District Governor, placing us within the top ten Clubs, Internationally, in the membership contest held in each ofthose two years. Additionally, we added several new Clubs to the District in those latter years.

The matter of District Constitution and by-laws was taken care of in a quick and simple manner. Realizing that any committee appointed to prepare these items would involve members from different Clubs, no doubt involving debate and delay, I wrote them, personally, with the plan in mind that the first draft would be sent to the various Clubs for study and return comment to me by mail. The idea went according to plan and the new Constitution and by-laws were presented to the second annual convention in Tucumcari, in June of 1930, there to be a approved and accepted. We were on our way!

IN CONCLUSION. This brief history would not be complete without a word about travel in that period of late 1920s and early 1930s. Owing to time element and schedules railway travel from Albuquerque, my home, to almost all of the cities wherein Lions Clubs were located, was out of the question. Travel by automobile was the most feasible, and least time consuming way of getting from here to there any place in the state. A single five mile stretch of concrete paving leading south from Albuquerque was the sum total of hard surfaced rural thoroughfare in the state. The balance of roads and highways, if they could be so termed, were from the natural soil, with a limited number of miles of gravel surfacing scattered shotgun over the state. Maintenance was at a minimum due to lack of equipment and funds, and, of course, there was dust.

The car of the day was the ‘touring car’, as it was called, an open job with cloth top held in place by bows, with side curtains to be attached in inclement weather. The sedan, as we know it today, was expensive and just coming into general use. The average tire was of three to three and one-half inches diameter carrying pressures of sixty to sixty-five pounds (the wide tire, or “balloon” as it was originally called, was some time away). The only difference between riding on a steel shod wheel at that time and one mounted with a rubber tire, was that the latter made no noise. The motel, or tourist court, as they were originally termed, had not become common in New Mexico, adding to the discomforts of travel, not forgetting the often encountered bedbug. Because the combination of car and road, the average speed was in the area of twenty miles per hour.

This brief history is intended, as its title indicates, to cover the formative years of Lionism in New Mexico, which period came to an end with the convening of the second District Convention in the city of Tucumcari in June 1930. The period thereafter may rightfully be termed the growth years, for such as it was, thanks to that determined group of men who found something in the new organization termed Lions International to which they could lend their support and efforts.

To be an officer of the Association in those formative days involved such work and patience, as well as time away from the business that brought in the bread and butter. My own reaction today? Somebody forgot to tell us it couldn’t be done!

Note. This account was written by Lion Life Member C. B. ‘Hap’ Beyer in 1973 and reflects his recollections of the early days of Lionism in New Mexico. Lion C. B. 'Hap' Beyer was born 14 September 1890. He was a member of the Albuquerque Host Lions Club from 5 June 1926 until his death. He served as District Governor of New Mexico Lions from 1929 through 1932.


The Lions Emblem, Colors, Motto, & Mission

The current Lion emblem was adopted at the 191 International Convention. Today, Lions throughout the world are recognized by it. It consists of a gold letter “L” on a circular purple field. Bordering this is a circular gold area with two Lions profiles facing in opposite directions from the center. The word “Lions” appears at the top and ‘International’ at the bottom. The Lions face both past and future — showing both pride of heritage and confidence in the future.

The official motto of the Association is simply “We Serve.” The official slogan is Liberty, Intelligence, and Our Nations Safety. The Association’s colors are purple and gold, which were chosen when LCI was founded in 1917. Purple, which represents loyalty to country, friends, one’s self, and the integrity of mind and heart, is the color of strength, courage, and dedication to a cause. Gold symbolizes sincerity of purpose, liberality in judgment, purity in life, generosity in mind and heart, and commitment to mankind.

Mission: To create and foster a spirit of understanding among all
 people for humanitarian needs by providing voluntary services
through community involvement and international cooperation.



Lions Club Objects

  TO CREATE and foster a spirit of understanding among peoples of the world.

  TO PROMOTE the principles of good government and good citizenship.

  TO TAKE an active interest in the civic, cultural, social, and moral welfare of the community.

  TO UNITE the Clubs in the bonds of friendship, good fellowship, and mutual understanding.

  TO PROVIDE a forum for the open discussion of all matters of public interest; provided, however,
    that partisan politics and sectarian religion shall not be debated by Club members.

  TO ENCOURAGE service-minded people to serve their community without personal financial reward,
    and to encourage efficiency and promote high ethical standards in commerce, industry, professions,
    public works, and private endeavors.


Lions Code of Ethics

  TO SHOW my faith in the worthiness of my vocation by industrious application to the end that I may
    merit a reputation for quality of service.

  TO SEEK success and to demand all fair remuneration or profit as my just due, but to accept no profit
    or success at the price of my own self-respect lost because of unfair advantages taken or because of
    questionable acts on my part.

  TO REMEMBER that in building up my business, it is not necessary to tear down another’s; to be
    loyal to my clients or customers and true to myself.

  WHENEVER a doubt arises as to the right or ethics of my position or action towards others, to
    resolve such doubt against myself.

  TO HOLD friendship as an end and not a means. To hold that true friendship exists not on account
    of the service performed by one to another, but that true friendship demands nothing but accepts
    service in the spirit in which it is given.

  ALWAYS to bear in mind my obligations as a citizen to my nation, my state, and my community, and
    to give them my unswerving loyalty in word, act, and deed. To give them freely of my time, labor, and means.

  TO AID others by giving my sympathy to those in distress, my aid to the weak, and my substance to the needy.

  TO BE CAREFUL with my criticism and liberal with my praise; to build up and not destroy.


Lions Prayer

Where Lions meet, be present Lord.
Weld our hearts in one accord.
To do Thy will, Lord
Make us strong,
And aid the weak
And right the wrong.



Lions Pledge

I pledge allegiance to my country and to the cause of peace throughout the world. I believe in the principles of Lionism as contained in the Lion Code of Ethics. I am proud to be a Lion dedicated to the services of others.


LCI Organizational Overview

LCI ORGANIZATIONAL STRUCTURE. The individual Lions Club is the most important unit of Lions Clubs International (LCI). As an individual, each Lion belongs to his or her Club. It is the Club that belongs to the Association. This means that when it comes time to elect International officers and directors, or to amend the International Constitution and By-laws, itis the Club that casts the necessary votes through its authorized delegates. Every Lions Club in good standing is entitled to send at least one delegate and one alternate to vote at the International Convention, regardless of the number of members it has. Most Clubs are entitled to more than one vote, since the rule provides for one delegate or alternate for each 25 members or major fraction thereof. Delegates can be appointed by the Club’s Board of Directors or elected by the membership.

At the International Convention held in late June or early July, the delegates elect the International officers and directors who will act for them during the coming fiscal year (July 1 - June 30). Officers elected include the International President and 1st and 2nd Vice-Presidents. Constitutionally, a contest exists only for the office of 2nd Vice-President with the other officers advancing one step each year until elected International President. The immediate Past International President is also an officer of the Association and serves as Chairman of the LCIF Board of Trustees.

Since the 1998 Convention, the officers of the International Association of Lions Clubs include the President, Immediate Past President, 1st Vice-President, 2nd Vice-President, and 32 Directors representing various areas of the world. International Directors serve two-year terms, with approximately one-half being elected each year.

LCI HEADQUARTERS. The headquarters of Lions Clubs International, with a staff of approximately 290 full-time employees, is located in Oak Brook, IL. Although branch offices exist worldwide, the International Headquarters serves as the Association’s central administrative and informative source. Many services are provided to Lions through this office, including issuing charters to new Clubs, providing brochures, activity guides and newsletters to members, and maintaining all Association records. The staff is led by an Executive Administrator, who oversees all Headquarters’ operations and works to carry out the policy decisions made by the International Board of Directors. Assisting the Executive Administrator is the Association’s Treasurer. Eleven operating Divisions divide the Administrative responsibilities of International Headquarters: Club Supplies and Distribution; Convention; Information Technology; District and Club Administration; Executive Service; Extension and Membership; Finance; International Activities and Program Development; Leadership; Legal; and Public Relations and Production.

THE LION MAGAZINE. The official magazine of LCI, THE LION, was established in November 1918. It is sent regularly to every member of the Association with the annual subscription price included in the International dues. THE LION Magazine has four major functions. First, it informs members of official notices. Second, it serves as a central reference point for service and fund raising ideas and the best methods to employ in order to ensure their success. Third, it supplies information about countries and areas where Lions are active, enabling all members to better understand and support International program objectives, and to promote worldwide peace and understanding. Last, it presents the story of LCI in the best possible manner so that not only Lions, but the casual reader as well, will receive a favorable impression of the Association.

LCI WEBSITE. The official LCI Website, located at, contains a wealth of information about the Association and its programs. There are downloadable materials, online Club Supply sales, a Club Directory, and online Club membership and activity report filing. Additionally, the site has various newsletters, an online version of the THE LION Magazine, message boards, and online training courses.


Multiple District 40 Structural Overview

When a District becomes too large, it can be sub-divided along geographical lines to form two or more sub-Districts. Each sub-District is identified by its own letter and/or number (e.g., 40S). When there is more than one sub-District in a defined area, such Districts form a Multiple District (e.g., 40N + 40S —> MD40).

Each Multiple District (MD) has its own Constitution and By-Laws based upon a standard form provided by LCI. These Constitutions and By-Laws may be amended by a vote of the delegates to the MD Convention, provided that such amendments do not run counter to the provisions of the LCI Constitution or policies of the LCI Board of Directors. Subject to LCI provisions, each MD supervises the administration of its own affairs and may choose officers, hold meetings, administer funds, authorize expenditures, and exercise other administrative powers as provided in its respective MD Constitution and Bylaws.

According to the Multiple District 40 (MD40) Constitution and By-Laws, the MD40 Council is composed of the Council Chairperson and the District Governors from Districts 40N and 40S, each having the right to vote on matters brought before the MD40 Council.

The MD40 Council Chairperson’s primary qualification is that he or she must have previously served as a District Governor. The MD40 Council appoints a MD40 Council Secretary/Treasurer, who also must have served as District Governor. Normally, the MD40 Council meets four times per year, i.e., once each in August, November, March, and during the State Convention.


District Structural Overview

Most Lions Clubs are part of a District, which is comprised of at least 35 Clubs that have a combined total of at least 1250 members. Normally, a District is divided into regions (comprised of no more than 16 and no less than 10 Clubs), each headed by a Region Chairperson. In turn, each Region is broken down into zones (with no more than eight Clubs and no less than four), presided over by a Zone Chairperson. Region and Zone Chairpersons work under the leadership of the District Governor (DG).

DISTRICT OFFICERS. The DG serves as the chief administrative officer for the District. He/she is elected to serve a one-year term at the annual District Convention. The new DG takes office at the close of the International Convention. The DG’s responsibilities include representing LCI in the District, supervising District officers, furthering the objects and ethics of Lionism, promoting the goals of the International Program, supervising the organization of new Lions Clubs, and presiding over District meetings.

The Vice-District Governor (VDG) serves as the chief administrative assistant to the DG. The VDG’s specific responsibilities are: to further the objects and ethics of Lionism; become familiar with the duties of the DG so that in the event of a vacancy in the office of DG, the VDG could act in that official capacity; perform administrative duties assigned by the DG; participate in District meetings, help prepare the District budget, and supervise District committees at the request of the DG; help review Clubs; engage in all matters to be continued during the next year; and serve as the chairperson of the District MERL Team.

The Cabinet Secretary/Treasurer (CS/T) acts under the supervision of the DG. The duties of the CS/T are to further the ethics and objects of Lionism and perform other functions as specified in the CS/T Manual and other directives.


Lions Club Structural Overview

A Lions Club is governed by a Board of Directors, normally consisting of a President as Chief Executive Officer, the immediate Past-President, three Vice-Presidents, a Secretary, a Treasurer, a Lion Tamer, a Tail Twister, four or more Directors, a Membership Director, and a Branch Coordinator (if applicable). Officers are elected annually for a term coinciding with LCI’s fiscal year (1 July - 30 June). Directors are elected for two-year terms. Meetings of the Board of Directors should be held once a month.

President. The President serves as the Club’s Chief Executive Officer and presides at all meetings of the Club and the Board of Directors. The President issues the call for regular and special meetings in accordance with the Club’s by-laws or procedures, plans the agenda and ensures that the status of each committee activity is reported. It is also the responsibility of the President to see that the regular elections are duly called, noticed, and held. The President cooperates with, and is an active member of, the DG’s Advisory Committee of the Zone in which the Club is located.

Immediate Past-President. The immediate Past-President, along with other Past-Presidents, serves as an official greeter of members and their guests at Club meetings and represents the Club in welcoming new people in to the community served by the Club.

Vice-Presidents. In the event that the President should be unable to perform the duties of office for any reason, the Vice-President next in rank occupies the position and performs the duties with the same authority as the President. Each Vice-President, under the direction of the President, oversees the functioning of various committees of the Club, as specified below:

1st Vice-President


Leadership Development
Membership Growth & Retention
Constitution & By-Laws
Finance & Budget
Public Relations & Newsletter
Attendance/Meeting Notification
Lions Information/Orientation/Training


2nd Vice-President


Diabetes Awareness
Sight Conservation/SightFirst
Hearing & Speech
Youth Outreach/Quest
Convention Planning
Branch Club Development


3rd Vice-President


Inter District Relations
Club Visitations
Public Service
Educational Service
Health Service
Social Service
Recreational Service
Citizenship Service
International Relations

Secretary. Under the supervision and direction of the President and Board of Directors, the Secretary acts as a liaison officer between the Club and both the District and LCI Headquarters. Responsibilities of the Secretary include submitting reports, maintaining Club records, and issuing financial statements to Club members.

Treasurer. The Treasurer is responsible for all Club financial matters. Duties include receiving all monies and paying Club obligations, maintaining financial records, preparing financial statements, and submitting financial reports.

Lion Tamer. The Lion Tamer serves as custodian of Club property. Duties include being responsible for Club property (such as flags, banners, gavels, etc.), serving as a sergeant at arms during meeting, and distributing materials at meetings.

Tail Twister. The Tail Twister serves to promote harmony, good fellowship, and enthusiasm at Club meetings through the judicious imposition of fines on members. The Tail Twister may not be fined except by the unanimous vote of all members present. Any funds collected by the Tail Twister are immediately turned over to the Treasurer.

Membership Director. The Membership Director serves as the chairperson of the Membership Committee. Responsibilities of the Membership Director include development of membership growth programs, implementation of recruitment and retention programs, and preparation of orientation sessions.