District Conference 2024 Speakers   May 3-5th

 

PRIP Ian Riseley will be our Rotary International President’s Representative.  Ian was born in a suburb of Melbourne in 1947, the second of five children in a working class family.  After completing secondary school with marks that were insufficient to obtain a scholarship to university, he joined a firm of Chartered Accountants and studied part time to qualify.  He later continued part time study and obtained Graduate Diplomas in Accounting and Income Tax as well as a Master’s Degree in Income Tax Law.  He was a self-confessed academic late bloomer.  After working in professional accounting, management consulting and industry, Ian launched his own accounting firm in 1976 with the creative name of Ian Riseley & Co.  That firm continues to this day, in a reduced form.  Ian became a proud Charter Member of the Rotary Club of Sandringham in 1978 and the third President of that club.  He led a Group Study Exchange team to District 7930, Massachusetts, in 1997 and then became Governor of District 9810 in 1999/2000.  He was elected as a Director of Rotary International for 2006/08 and was Treasurer in 2007/08.  He then served as Chair of the RI Finance committee from 2009/11 before being elected as a Trustee of the Rotary Foundation for 2011/15.  Ian was Co-Chair of the committee that organized the 2016 Rotary International convention in Seoul.   Ian served as President of Rotary International in 2017/18 and gave the theme of “Rotary; Making a Difference.”  He then again served as a Trustee of the Rotary Foundation for 2019/23, being Chairman in 2022/23.  While President, he authorised six Presidential conferences with an emphasis on peace, an important issue for Ian and his wife Juliet, who was Governor of District 9810 in 2011/12.  He is proud of his encouragement of Rotary’s work on protecting the environment, and also of his promotion of women for participation and leadership roles within Rotary.  Ian was awarded an Order of Australia Medal in 2006 and an AM in 2023.

 

Rotary International Director Drew Kessler is Senior Vice President of the Commercial Real Estate division at M&T Bank, where he manages a large loan portfolio of real estate and commercial ventures with major businesses in the New York City area. Drew regularly appeared on Fox Business News from 2008-2013 for his expertise on the finance industry and the real estate market. A passionate fundraiser, Drew has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for organizations including The Rotary Foundation, Habitat for Humanity March of Dimes and Feeding Westchester.  He joined Rotary in 2001, at the age of 20. He went on to serve as President of the Rotary Club of North Rockland at age 25 – at that time the youngest president in the club’s than 80-year history. At age 32, he served as District Governor for Rotary District 7210. “For anyone who says that you have to be retired to serve in these positions, I’d like to show that there is another path,” says Kessler. He has served Rotary International on the Young Past District Governor’s Committee as well as representative to the Council on Legislation and RI president’s representative. Kessler currently serves on the

Rotary International Board as a Director. In addition, Drew is the Rotary International Treasurer for Rotary year 2023-2024. As a husband and father to five children, Kessler prioritizes finding a way to incorporate family into Rotary events, projects, and meetings whenever possible; all of his children have been touched by Rotary either through Earlyact, Interact, RYLA and Rotary Youth Exchange. Kessler and his wife, Vicki – also an Active Rotarian – reside in Hopewell Junction, New York. PRID Drew will speak on Rotary and Family and/ or Inclusion.

John Hartig, PhD is a Visiting Scholar at the University of Windsor’s Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research, serves on the Board of Directors of the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy, and chairs the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan’s Great Lakes Way Advisory Committee. For 14 years, he served as Refuge Manager of the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge. John has received numerous awards for his work, including being recognized as a 2022 Crain’s Detroit Business Notable Leader in Sustainability, the 2015 Conservationist of the Year Award from the John Muir Association, and a 2010 Green Leader by the Detroit Free Press. He has authored or co-authored over 140 publications on the environment, including eight books. John’s recent book titled Waterfront Porch won a 2020 Next Generation Indie Book Award in the “nature/environment” category.

 

Danielle Campo McLeod is a decorated Canadian Paralympic swimmer. From overcoming the crippling effects of muscular dystrophy to international success in the pool and miraculously surviving a life-threatening health scare following childbirth, Danielle’s road to wellness is a story of faith, love, courage, survival, and triumph. With a focus on resilience, she strives to enhance personal and professional growth, enabling individuals and organizations to thrive in a rapidly changing world.  Her books will be on sale following her presentation.

 

 

Laurie Smolenski is passionate about using data and communications for positive social change. A development and peace professional, she mobilizes resources for conflict prevention, human rights, research, and advocacy organizations. Laurie is the Director of Development at ideas42, a non-profit research and design firm that uses insights from behavioral science to combat poverty and inequality. Before joining ideas42, she served as the Director of Development of the Global Center on Cooperative Security, an organization that works to address the root causes of violent extremism through a human rights-based approach. Previously, she served as the Outreach and Development Officer at the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), a think tank that uses quantitative data to measure global levels of peace, violence, and the economic impact of conflict, and a formal partner of Rotary. Laurie has a Master of Arts in Peace and Conflict Resolution from the University of Queensland in Australia where she was a Rotary Peace Fellow, and Master of Arts in International Relations from the Autonomous University of Madrid in Spain where she was a Rotary Global Grant recipient.

Victor Armstrong, MSW, serves on the Steering Committee of the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention, the board of directors of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention- North Carolina, and he is the host of the “Strong Talk” podcast. He is a member of NC Institute of Medicine and serves on the Board of Directors of East Carolina University School of Social Work, and the Council of Advisors for St. Augustine’s University. Victor has over 30 years of experience in human services, primarily dedicated to building and strengthening community resources to serve individuals who have been historically marginalized. He is a nationally recognized speaker on issues regarding health equity and access to healthcare, particularly as it relates to individuals living with mental health challenges.

 

Dr. Linda Morrow, a member of the Rotary Club of Windsor-Roseland since 2011 is our 2025-26 District Governor. Prior to joining Rotary, Linda travelled with PDG Aruna Koushik to India as part of a Polio Immunization Project.  She often says, “I went to India a curious traveler; I came back from India a Rotarian”. In addition to travelling to India, Linda has been to Guatemala twice and was also a member of the Vocational Training Team to Ghana in 2019. Linda served as Club President in 2014-2015, District Trainer in 2016-2017 and again in 2021-2022. She is currently Co-Chair of the Vocational Training Team Committee. Linda is a Council of Governors Award winner and her Club honored her as Rotarian of the Year.  Linda has also led community based projects including Pack for Success a backpack program and One of the Kind a random acts of kindness program.  Linda is an Adjunct Assistant Professor at the University of Windsor. Linda has two Bachelor’s degrees, a Master’s Degree in Communication Studies and a PhD in Instructional Design and Performance Improvement. She is a self-professed “learning geek” who just started taking guitar lessons so she can be a rock star in her next life.