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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 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 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.

HRH The Princess Royal, Princess Anne

The Princess Royal, the second child and only daughter of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip, is president or patron of more than 300 organizations. Her work with Save the Children UK, where she has been president since 1970, has given her great insight into the needs of children worldwide and an understanding of the issues affecting developing countries. In her work for the organization, she has visited Save the Children projects in many countries, including China, Cambodia, Botswana, Madagascar, and the Philippines.

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Marie-Paule Attema, Rotary Peace Fellow

A Rwandan-born emigrant to Canada, Marie-Paule Attema is passionate about promoting local and global peace. In the past 10 years, she has worked with marginalized and isolated populations in South Africa, Guatemala, Australia, and Canada. Attema is pursuing a Master of Peace and Conflict Studies as a Rotary Peace Fellow at the University of Queensland in Australia. Her career goal is to contribute to people’s mental health recovery after armed conflict and, in the long term, to promote peace and equality through global policy.

Brittany Arthur, member, Rotary Club of Berlin International

After being a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar, Brittany Arthur joined the Rotaract Club of Berlin in 2014 and has since held various board positions, including president. Passionate about engaging alumni, Arthur was also on the organizing committee for the Rotary Zone Institute in Berlin in 2014. Arthur works as a workshop facilitator and consultant for companies in Australia, Japan and Germany.

About Brittany Arthur

Yinka Babalola, RI director 2018-20

Yinka Babalola, a former Rotaractor, became a member of the Rotary club of Trans Amadi, Rivers State, Nigeria, in 1993. He has received the Rotary Foundation regional polio service award, the Citation for Meritorious Service, and the Rotary Service Above Self Award. He will serve on the RI board for 2018-20. Babalola worked for Shell Oil in various senior positions, retiring after 24 years to allow time for his humanitarian interests. He is the lead facilitator at Lead and Change Consulting, an executive coaching and organization performance group.

John Caulfield, co-founder, Innovadores Foundation

John Caulfield is a retired American diplomat who held senior positions at U.S. Embassies in the Philippines, Peru, the United Kingdom, and Venezuela. As chief of the U.S. Interests Section in Havana, he supported the restoration of diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba. During his diplomatic career, he specialized in Latin America and consular affairs. Since retiring in 2014, he co-founded Innovadores, which supports small Cuban entrepreneurs in technology and design.

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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

Elizabeth Dowdeswell, lieutenant governor of Ontario

The Honorable Elizabeth Dowdeswell became Ontario’s 29th lieutenant governor on 23 September 2014. Dowdeswell began her professional career as a teacher and university lecturer. After serving as deputy minister of culture and youth for the government of Saskatchewan, she held increasingly senior positions in Canadian public service, most notably as head of the Atmospheric Environment Service. Throughout this period, she managed several public inquiries and royal commissions. Her international negotiating experiences prefaced her election in 1992 as executive director of the United Nations Environment Programme and under-secretary-general of the United Nations, where she was based in Nairobi, Kenya. Upon returning to Canada in 1998, she established an international consulting practice and became the founding president and CEO of the Nuclear Waste Management Organization. Immediately prior to her appointment as lieutenant governor, Dowdeswell was the president and CEO of the Council of Canadian Academies. She has also served on numerous boards of corporate and nonprofit organizations.

Rebecca Fry, Rotaract Australia MDIO chair, corporate social responsibility specialist

Rebecca Fry’s Rotary journey began in 2005 when she attended the Rotary-sponsored National Youth Science Forum. She has since been involved in the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards program and Rotaract, now serving as chair of the Rotaract Australia multidistrict information organization Fry works in the field of corporate social responsibility for Johnson & Johnson Medical. She is particularly passionate about intergenerational collaboration and maximizing strategic partnerships for greater social impact.

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Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus

Director-General, World Health Organization

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus was elected director-general by WHO member states in May 2017. He served as Ethiopia’s minister of foreign affairs from 2012-16 and as minister of health from 2005-12. He was elected board chair of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria in 2009, and previously served as board chair of the Roll Back Malaria Partnership and board co-chair of the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health. Dr. Ghebreyesus holds a Ph.D. in community health and a Master of Science in immunology of infectious diseases.

About Dr. Ghebreyesus

Ann Gloag

Founder, Gloag Foundation and Freedom From Fistula Foundation

Ann Gloag is co-founder of Stagecoach Group, an international transportation company, where she served as an executive director until May 2000. She remains a member of the board and major shareholder. Through her Gloag Foundation, Freedom From Fistula Foundation, and Kenya Children’s Homes charity, Ann has invested heavily in Africa, with clinics in Malawi, Sierra Leone, and Madagascar; and schools and an orphanage in Kenya. In 2004, Ann was awarded an Order of the British Empire and, in 2009, was admitted into the Order of the Star of Africa, with the grade of Commander, in recognition of her support.

Chief R. Stacey Laforme

Leader of the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation

R. Stacey Laforme is the elected chief of the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation. Laforme has served his community for more than 15 years, being first elected to its council in 1999. Laforme has participated in a number of committees and boards throughout his seven terms as a council member. Laforme has recently been appointed an honorary senior fellow for Massey College in Toronto.

James Marggraff, inventor, entrepreneur

James Marggraff is an entrepreneur whose inventions address learning and literacy. He has founded six companies over the past 30 years. Marggraff  invented the LeapFrog LeapPad, a tablet that builds children’s literacy skills; the Livescribe smartpen; and the Odyssey Atlasphere to boost geographic literacy. He founded the technology firm Eyefluence, which he sold to Google in 2016. Marggraff was executive producer of Rotary’s “One Small Act” virtual reality film. He was a 2011 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year, holds three dozen patents, and is an MIT 150 Inventor. He received his Bachelor and Master of Science degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Gordon R. McInally

Past Rotary International director, past president of Rotary International in Great Britain and Ireland, and 2018 Toronto Convention Committee chair

Gordon R. McInally joined the Rotary Club of South Queensferry, Lothian, Scotland, in 1984. He was club president in 1991-92 and served as governor of District 1020 in 1997-98. He served as president of Rotary International in Great Britain and Ireland in 2004-05. McInally was a member of the RI Board from 2007-09. He continues to serve Rotary in varying capacities and is chair of the 2018 Toronto Convention Committee. He has a dental surgery degree from the University of Dundee, and for many years, he owned and ran a dental practice in Edinburgh, Scotland.

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

Muhammad Talha Mushtaq, Rotaractor and Rotary club member

Muhammad Talha Mushtaq, a Paul Harris fellow, is a dual Rotary-Rotaract member from District 3272 (Pakistan). He was elected as the district’s Rotaract representative for 2018-19. Mushtaq, an attorney, has a bachelor’s degree in law from the University of London and is pursuing his master’s from the Robert H. McKinney School of Law, IUPUI, Indianapolis, Indiana, USA.

Joan B. Nairuba

Rotaractor, Associate at Sebugwawo and Company Advocates

Joan B. Nairuba is an associate at Sebugwawo and Company Advocates, a teaching assistant at Kampala International University, and a member of the Rotaract Club of Kololo, Uganda. Nairuba is also a member of the Camarilla Book Club, consisting of young people whose primary goal is to strengthen and improve the reading culture of Ugandans. Nairuba has a bachelor’s degree in law from Uganda Christian University, a postgraduate diploma in legal practice from the Law Development Centre, and a certificate of admission and enrollment in the High Court of Uganda.

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 is a member of the World Economic Forum’s Stewardship Board for Food Security and Agriculture and its Global Future Council on International Cooperation, Public-Private Partnership and Sustainable Development. She serves on a number of boards and advisory councils for financial organizations, partnerships, global development institutions, and charitable nonprofits, and 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. She is a former Rhodes Scholar and Rotary Youth Exchange Student.

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

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.

RI Trustee chair Paul A. Netzel

Paul A. Netzel is founder and chair of Netzel Grigsby Associates Inc., a leading management consulting firm specializing in work with nonprofit organizations and institutions throughout the western United States. He served as mayor of Culver City, California, and president of Culver City's Board of Education. He has held leadership positions in numerous local and national professional societies and not-for-profit boards, including the Association of Fundraising Professionals, the Boy Scouts, Goodwill Industries, United Way, YMCA, and the Auto Club of Southern California Advisory Board.

A Rotarian since 1968, Netzel has served as director, task force zone coordinator, committee chair, zone institute chair and convener, International Assembly moderator and chair, training leader, and district governor.

Netzel has received The Rotary Foundation's Citation for Meritorious Service. Both Paul and his wife, Diane, are charter members of the Arch Klumph Society, Major Donors,

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.