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John Kle takes over as new Kiwanis president

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Sea Cliff native John Kle took the helm as the Kiwanis Club of North Shore’s new president on Thursday, a position which he will hold for the next year. Former president Roger Hill is set to become the lieutenant governor of the ten Kiwanis clubs in the Long Island North Division.

A Glen Cove resident, Kle, 73, was unanimously elected to the presidency by the Kiwanis members. Hill said Kle is exceedingly creative, something that the club will need moving forward given the cancellation of the 2020 Sea Cliff Mini Mart, which serves as the club’s biggest fundraiser of the year. The event was cancelled due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus pandemic.

Kle graduated from North Shore High School in 1966 before attending Monmouth College in Monouth, Ill. He returned to New York after graduating and spent roughly 40 years as a writer, director and producer in the film and television industry. He said he concentrated mostly on children’s programming, and was nominated for a local Best Director Emmy in 1990 for his work on a show called “Kids-TV.”

Kle said he has spent much of his adult life aware of the Kiwanis, as his father, John, was a member for over 30 years until his death four years ago at 99-years-old. Kle joined the Kiwanis after his father’s death, as he said it would be a nice tribute. His wife, Leslie, is also a Kiwanian, and served as president in the term before Hill.

“It’s a rare opportunity to give back,” Kle said of his new role. “It’s difficult to find something like that. It’s all volunteers — it’s a bunch of people working to help kids — [and] it’s beautiful.”

Leslie McCarthy, editor of the club’s newsletter, Kwips, said Kle quickly became familiar with the club’s membership upon joining and fit right in. Both she and Hill said Kle has a creative mind which will be well-suited to help the club move into the future.

“I think he will have creative ideas, especially now during this difficult time of Covid,” McCarthy said. “I think he will be able to carry us forward, which we need. I think he has some good ideas and this is what we need especially at this time.”

McCarthy also noted that Kle has a “youthful way about him” and a great sense of humor, the latter of which she said is an important trait to have when entering into a leadership position such as the Kiwanis presidency.

“I just think he will be very good at it,” McCarthy said. “Having that kind of personality as a leader I think is important. Taking yourself too seriously can be a little much when you’re up there at the dais.”

Kle said one of his biggest missions for the near future is attracting new members to the Kiwanis. He said he and other club members will put extra efforts into reaching out to friends and corporations who might enjoy the experience. He said the club is starting a Young Professionals Group, which focuses on bringing people between the ages of 20 and 45 to continue the club’s legacy of charity as its current members grow older.

In navigating the club through the remainder of the pandemic, Kle said members have to operate within social distancing guidelines while still finding places to meet in person. There are many members who were afraid to come back out because their age makes them especially susceptible to Covid-19, he said, but they are slowly beginning to feel safer about participating in club activities again.

The first big fundraiser which Kle will oversee will be the Nassau to Suffolk Bicycle Challenge, which will be on Oct. 25 since its original spring date was postponed. Kle and Leslie have also set up a GoFundMe page to help the Kiwanis gain some of the funding they may have lost with Mini Mart being cancelled.

To donate to the Kiwanis Club of North Shore, visit www.gofundme.com/f/kiwanis-club-of-north-shore-long-island.