Tawny Ryan Nelb, 2015 president-elect of Midland Noon Rotary, is a Kentucky native who grew up in Indiana. Like many Midlanders, she relocated here when her spouse was transferred by the Dow Chemical Company. She found her way to Rotary in 2009, drawn by a desire to become more involved in the community.
“I thought it would be a good first step. I hesitated to join for years because I thought it required 100 percent attendance and I knew that wasn’t possible with my work travel. Attendance is still important, but the rules have moderated somewhat.”
Tawny is an archival consultant and historian, working with all kinds of organizations to research, restore, preserve, manage, etc., historical records and documents. Her work takes her all over the country and clients have included the Houston Museum of Fine Arts, UCLA, USC, Virginia State Library and Archives, Michigan Historical Center, New Jersey Department of Transportation, Independence National Historic Park, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Tawny has long been fascinated by primary documents such as letters, diaries, ledgers, photographs, maps, drawings, etc. — the building blocks of history. She graduated in American studies from the University of Notre Dame in one of the first classes of women. Her first job was at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library in Iowa, followed by the Yale University Manuscripts and Archives Department.
“Each document is a piece of a larger puzzle historians use to pull together the story of the past. I decided to open my own consulting business in 1986 because I wanted a broader experience than was offered in a large academic archives,” she explains.
Tawny has published 40 articles and four books, and given more than 100 lectures, on local history and archival topics. She is gathering historical materials about Midland Noon Rotary in preparation for the club’s 100th anniversary in 2020. She also chairs the Stewards of Rotary committee and the Salvation Army Bell ringer activity, and often leads the singing that opens each weekly gathering.
“I am awed by my fellow Rotarians’ commitment to service in our community and beyond. I am pleased that the club donates over $25,000 per year to local non-profit groups, and have been thrilled to see the impact a year in Midland has on the Rotary exchange students.”
Tawny and her husband, Bob, now retired from Dow Chemical and directorship of the Saginaw Bay Community Sailing Association, have three children and three grandchildren.