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Speakers

One of the main benefits of attending a Rotary Convention is the exceptional speakers from around the world.

Simultaneous interpretation will be offered in English, French, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, Portuguese, Spanish, and other languages, depending on registrants’ needs.

Laura Bush, First Lady of the United States (2001-2009)

Laura Bush, former First Lady of the United States, is an advocate for literacy, healthcare, and human rights.

One of the most beloved and admired American First Ladies, for decades Mrs. Bush has championed key issues of national and global concern. She has traveled to more than seventy-six countries, including two historic solo trips to Afghanistan, and has launched groundbreaking education and healthcare programs in the U.S. and abroad. The author of the bestselling memoir, Spoken From The Heart, Mrs. Bush also founded both the Texas Book Festival and the National Book Festival in Washington D.C.

Today, as the Chair of the Woman’s Initiative at the George W. Bush Institute, Mrs. Bush continues her work on global healthcare innovations, empowering women in emerging democracies, education reform, and supporting the men and women who have served in America’s military. Recently, Mrs. Bush authored the foreword to We Are Afghan Women: Voices of Hope (March, 2016). The book chronicles powerful stories of courageous women in Afghanistan and the risks they face on their journey to build peaceful communities in their country.

Born in Midland, Texas to Jenna and Harold Welch, Mrs. Bush holds a degree in education and a master’s degree in library science. She taught in public schools in Dallas, Houston, and Austin, and worked as a public school librarian. In 1977, she married George W. Bush.

President and Mrs. Bush are the parents of twin daughters, Barbara and Jenna, son-in-law, Henry Hager, and proud grandparents of granddaughters Margaret Laura “Mila” and Poppy Louise Hager. The Bush family also includes two cats, Bob and Bernadette, and a dog Freddy.

RI President Ian H.S. Riseley

Ian Riseley is a chartered accountant and principal of Ian Riseley and Co., a firm he established in 1976. Prior to starting his own firm, he worked in the audit and management consulting divisions of large accounting firms and corporations.

RI President-elect Barry Rassin

Barry Rassin earned an MBA in health and hospital administration from the University of Florida, and is the first fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives in the Bahamas. He recently retired after 37 years as president of Doctors Hospital Health System and continues as an adviser.

RI President-nominee Mark Daniel Maloney

Mark Daniel Maloney is a principal in the law firm of Blackburn, Maloney, and Schuppert LLC, with a focus on taxation, estate planning, and agricultural law. He represents large farming operations in the Southeastern and Midwestern United States, and has chaired the American Bar Association’s Committee on Agriculture in the section of taxation. He is a member of the American Bar Association, Alabama State Bar Association, and the Alabama Law Institute.

General secretary John Hewko

John Hewko has served as Rotary International’s general secretary since 2011. A charter member of the Rotary Club of Kyiv, Ukraine, Hewko lives out Rotary’s mission, whether inside or outside the office. He’s immunized children against polio in India, represented Rotary at the World Economic Forum, and bicycled 104 miles (167 km) with Rotary members in Arizona, USA, to help raise over $13 million for polio eradication. "It’s an honor to go the extra mile in serving this great organization. I see Rotary as the original social network formed to exchange ideas and resources so we can transform lives. We’re a bold NGO that believed it could end a disease, and we’ve stuck to the cause for over three decades. That thought inspires me every morning."

Treasurer Mikael Ahlberg

Mikael Ahlberg is president of a business and management consultancy, and a certified ICC coach. He is also active in his community, and is the chair and member of several boards.

A Rotarian since 1993, Ahlberg has served as RI president’s representative, committee member, assistant Rotary coordinator, RI training leader, and district governor.

He is a Benefactor of The Rotary Foundation.

Helen Clark

Former prime minister of New Zealand, former administrator of the United Nations Development Programme

Helen Clark served three terms as prime minister of New Zealand from 1999 to 2008. During her 27-year parliamentary career, she has also served in a range of government ministries, including as Minister of Housing, Conservation, Health, and Labour. Under her leadership, New Zealand achieved significant economic growth, low levels of unemployment, and high investment in education and health. She and her government prioritized reconciliation and the settlement of historical grievances with New Zealand’s indigenous people and advocated strongly for addressing climate change. In 2009, she became the first woman to lead the United Nations Development Programme, where she served two four-year terms. She is a member of World Leadership Alliance-Club de Madrid, a forum of former democratic presidents and prime ministers.

About Helen Clark

Dr. Isis Mejias

WASRAG Ambassador, Rotary global grant scholar

Growing up in Venezuela, Mejias saw people suffering from malaria and waterborne illnesses. That motivated her to pursue science as a way to empower people to address water contamination. In her work for a doctorate degree at the University of Houston, aided by a Rotary scholarship, she built an international research collaboration into the use of biotechnology to remove metals from water. She then led water and sanitation programs in Kenya and Uganda. Her latest work has furthered her long-term career goal to create worldwide incentives for the reuse of water by creating awareness of our impact on the environment and building local knowledge in sustainable water and sanitation practices.

About Isis Mejias

Jane Nelson

Director, Corporate Responsibility Initiative, Harvard Kennedy School

Jane Nelson is Director of the Corporate Responsibility Initiative at Harvard Kennedy School and a nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. She was a director and then senior adviser at the Prince of Wales International Business Leaders Forum from 1993 to 2012 and an adviser and track leader at the Clinton Global Initiative. In 2001, she worked with the UN Global Compact and UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s office, preparing his report on cooperation between the UN and the private sector. She has co-authored five books and over 90 publications on corporate responsibility, public-private partnerships, and the role of the private sector in sustainable development.

About Jane Nelson

Anja Nikolova

2015-17 Rotary global grant scholar, Yale University

Anja Nikolova, a Rotary global grant scholar, graduated in 2017 with a master’s degree in environmental management from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and the Yale Center for Business and the Environment. Raised in five countries (and fluent in as many languages), she studied biology in Italy and Switzerland and is a National Merit Scholar. Nikolova manages sustainable products at L'Oreal. She interned at the Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition — an initiative to accelerate action on climate change — and attended the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris as a member of the Macedonian delegation.  

About Anja Nikolova

Caryl M. Stern

President and CEO, UNICEF USA

Caryl M. Stern is President & CEO of UNICEF USA. Stern has spearheaded UNICEF USA’s emergency relief efforts for children affected by disasters, including the 2010 Haiti earthquake, the 2011 East Africa drought, the Ebola outbreak, and the ongoing global refugee and migrant crisis. A sought-after speaker on the topics of children and philanthropy, bullying, and international development, she has been named one of the “25 Women Changing the World in 2017” by People Magazine and one of the “20 Most Influential Moms of 2017” by Family Circle. She serves on the boards of the Container Store, the We Are Family Foundation, and the Center for Disaster Relief.

About Caryl M. Stern

Mel Young

President and founder, Homeless World Cup Foundation

Mel Young is president of the Homeless World Cup Foundation, which he co-founded in 2003. Under his leadership, the organization and its partners have expanded to touch the lives of more than 100,000 homeless people in 74 countries each year. To date, over 1 million people have used the initiative to change their lives. Young is recognized as one of the world’s leading social entrepreneurs and has received numerous awards. He also is chair of Sportscotland, the Scottish national agency for sports. Young and co-author Peter Barr recently published a book about the Homeless World Cup, “Home Game: A Ball Can Change the World.”

About Mel Young