The Paul Harris Fellow (PHF) recognition


The Paul Harris Fellow (PHF) recognition program honors Rotary founder, Paul Harris, and expresses appreciation and recognition for contributions to The Rotary Foundation (TRF). Currently, the Paul Harris Fellow recognition acknowledges individuals who contribute, or who have contributions made in their name, of US$1,000 to The Rotary Foundation of Rotary International.

The most important step to promote voluntary giving to The Rotary Foundation occurred in January, 1957, when the Paul Harris Fellow recognition was established and bestowed to those who showed appreciation for and encourage substantial contributions to what was then the Foundation's only program, Rotary Foundation Fellowships for Advanced Study, the precursor to Ambassadorial Scholarships.  Early Paul Harris Fellows received a certificate of recognition with three categories of distinction based on cumulative giving: Individual PHF ($1000), Honorary Fellow ($500-1000), Memorial Contributor, ($100-300). The first Paul Harris Fellows include 1937-38 RI Director Allison G. Brush and longtime RI Treasurer Rufus F. Chapin, both for donations they made in 1946. Mrs. Adan Vargas was the first woman to receive the recognition, for a gift made in 1953. Mrs. Harry L. Jones was the second, and one of only five people recognized for contributions made in 1957. In January 1958, a new form of recognition of Sustaining Contributor for minimum annual contributions of $100 was authorized. The Sustaining Contributor recognition was in the form of a pocket card.


Some of the medals that have been awarded to Paul Harris Fellows before standardization of the award shown.



Under the direction of then-past Foundation Trustee Kyozo Yuasa, the noted metal artist, Fiju Tsuda, of Japan was commissioned to create the PHF recognition medallion in 1968. The medallion was designed, sculpted and struck in Ginza, Tokyo and unveiled at the 1969 Rotary International Convention in Honolulu. At a special Foundation Trustee Convention breakfast, the bronze medallion suspended from a triangular blue and gold ribbon was presented to 46 attendees of the then existing 300 Paul Harris Fellows, including Mrs. Coyles Collins who was the first woman recipient of a Paul Harris Fellow medallion. At an unknown later date, this first version of the Medallion was accompanied by a blue velvet lapel pin adorned with a small gold likeness of Paul Harris, a specially-commissioned, blue-colored folding keepsake box designed and manufactured by Wako Company of Ginza, Japan, and a certificate.


...In 1997, the Foundation Trustees standardized the designs of the medallion and lapel pin and unveiled as the fourth version a new unisex version of the Paul Harris Fellow. The large Paul Harris Fellow medallion originally designed by Fiju Tsuda was replaced by a smaller design of Paul Harris's likeness surrounded by a blue enamel circle and an outer ring of faux gold emblazoned with wheat design.


The new medallion was suspended by a one-inch blue/yellow neckwear ribbon. Additionally, a new lapel pin that was identical to the multiple Paul Harris pin developed in 1984 accompanied this unisex version when presented in the blue velvet presentation case along with a certificate.  This version continues to today, except for the 2009 Foundation Trustees decision to only provide the lapel pin and certificate as the Paul Harris Fellow recognition, discontinue the blue velvet presentation case, and allow the blue/yellow neckwear ribbon and medallion to be purchased directly from the Rotary Foundation at the option of the recipient.


The number of Paul Harris Fellows reached the one million mark in 2006 when thirty-four individuals (one per RI Zone) were recognized with special plaque and certificate as the one-millionth Paul Harris Fellow.   


Article by RGHF member Lloyd T. Navarro, Jr., Rotary Club of the Sandhills, District 7960, Zone 33, North Carolina, USA.


TRF medals,  from the Ziegler Collection


Read more about the Foundation and Paul Harris Recognition at: