We’re devastated to report the death of dedicated Rotarian and ESRAG member Mike Cloutier on September 17. His kindness, IT skill, and resourcefulness have made a giant contribution over the past three years as ESRAG’s membership and activities expanded enormously. We will sorely miss Mike Cloutier!
Starting at the height of the pandemic, Mike worked with ESRAG IT Chair Mike Terrelonge to customize ESRAG’s new iMembers system, setting up the systems we rely on for membership enrollment, communications, event scheduling and registration. He also organized training sessions on iMember’s key tools.
Over the subsequent years Mike Cloutier dedicated countless hours listening to, troubleshooting, and imparting confidence to ESRAG leaders as we have been learning to use the tools. To this he brought years of experience managing IT systems and teams in the US Navy, the private sector, and Rotary.
“His contributions were wonderful,” says ESRAG Director and Technology Chair Mike Terrelonge, who teamed up with Mike Cloutier and DACdb staff to ensure ESRAG could successfully navigate this time of transition. “Previously we were using a system where we couldn’t get support, and we were getting hugely expensive estimates of what it would take to hire a support person.”
Since ESRAG was 100% volunteer-led and was adding new teams continually, bringing new leaders up to speed on our systems was a challenge. It was exacerbated by the rapid expansion in the number of members and activities that need to be coordinated.
“If we could find a system that Rotarians already knew, that would increase the potential number of people who could work with the database and help provide support,” Mike Terrelonge explains. ESRAG Director Steve Solbrack suggested that he talk to Mike Cloutier.
“We just hit it off,” Mike Terrelonge continues, with a huge smile. “He could go through the thought processes and the players we would need to make it work. He knew that understanding the people we’re trying to serve is the hardest part of IT, not the technology. The technology is the easiest part!
“Mike understood the IT management challenge. Not to train is more expensive than training. He was very humble and gave his total attention to the problems we presented.” He also knew how to advocate with DACdb to fix glitches or improve systems: “he was a database administrator in the Navy, and understood how to manage IT suppliers,” Mike Terrelonge explains.
Mike Cloutier had already volunteered his expertise to help his Rotary District set up its database in DACdb, and suggested that ESRAG give iMembers –a DACdb variation – a try. “DACdb staff knew him from his database work for his District,” Mike Terrelonge explains. “He had that good reputation before he came to our team. They knew that he knew what he was doing. That helped us a lot.”
Mike Terrelonge laughs as he recalls a prime example: the drop-down Club menu on the “Join ESRAG” screen. The two Mikes realized that many of us don’t remember our district number or how our club is listed in the gigantic Rotary database – I admit that I am never sure if mine is “Rotary Club of Cincinnati” or “Cincinnati Rotary Club!”
But, “if you could get them to put their province or state, they could go to a local drop-down menu winnowed from the 47,000 Rotary Clubs,” Mike Terrelonge explains. “Because of the great relationships Mike had built with DACdb, we could ask them about using a drop-down menu based on Club Finder. That single “Join ESRAG” screen represents hundreds of man-hours of work by Mike Cloutier and Steve Solbrack!”
Mike Cloutier made time to help ESRAG folks troubleshoot even as he continued doing a zillion other vital things for Rotary, like District Youth Exchange. You may have recently used the online North American Rotary Youth Exchange training and found it far more user-friendly than previous versions – don’t be surprised: it was updated by Mike Cloutier.
Mike and his wonderful wife Lori – Chair of ESRAG’s Plastic Solutions Task Force – were honored at ESRAG’s 2023 Annual Meeting for their enormous contributions in building ESRAG’s capacity and impact.
Mike loved Lori, people, the sea, boats, dogs, Rotary, and solving problems.
“We never met in person, but he became my dear friend,” says Mike Terrelonge. “We spent many hours together on Zoom, talking and laughing as we shared stories. God always sends me angels, but doesn’t always tell me in advance who those angels will be. Mike came at that special time when we needed him.”