Former exchange student headed to Washington as a Global Grant scholar

The day a then-nine-year-old Anna-Marie Robertson tagged along to a lecture by a University of Alberta political science professor she started a journey that has now led her to Georgetown University as a Rotary Global Grant scholar

Along the way, Anna-Marie spent a year as a Rotary Youth Exchange (RYE) student, served as president of an Interact club, earned degrees from universities in Canada and the United Kingdom, and worked for the Canadian Red Cross.

“My mom was taking courses at the U of A and took me with her to an international relations lecture by Dr. Andy Knight. He spoke about peace-building and post-conflict issues and reconciliation,” she says. “I sat in the corner of the lecture theatre with my pen and little pad of paper and was captivated by the work and the ideas that were being discussed. [What] Dr. Knight shared with me really inspired me to be an active global citizen and I vowed that I would make the world a better, more peaceful place.”

Her year as a RYE student in 2012-2013 was sponsored by the Rotary Club of Edmonton—the same club that is the sponsoring club for her Rotary Global Grant scholarship. She was hosted by the Rotary Club of Enkhuizen in the Netherlands.

“My youth exchange really did set me up for my success. It was life-changing for countless reasons and I really truly believe that I would not have been able to achieve what I have without that experience from Rotary,” she says. 

“My exchange solidified core values that continue to shape how I engage in the world today, including what’s articulated in the six Bes—to be first, to be curious, to be on purpose, to be grateful, to be of service and to be here now.”

Living in Europe provided Anna-Marie with opportunities to visit the International Court of Justice in the Hague, which required a three-hour train journey from northern Netherlands to the south.

“I spent many, many hours in the Peace Palace Library, which stands next to the International Court of Justice,” she says. “I read about international law and specifically about international humanitarian law or the rules of war and thought about how I might be able to contribute to the field in the future.”

Following her year in Europe, Anna-Marie returned to establish an Interact club at her Edmonton high school. She also became involved in Rotex— a society of past Rotary Youth Exchange alumni that engages with current Inbounds and Outbounds to better their exchange experience overall—and attended the High School Model United Nations, a program sponsored at the University of Alberta by the Rotary Club of Edmonton Riverview.

In recognition of her commitment to service, Anna-Marie received a Rotex scholarship from District 5370 and a Paul Harris Fellowship from the Edmonton Rotary club. 

After high school, Anna-Marie earned a bachelor of arts degree with honours from Carleton University in Ottawa, in Transnational Law and Human Rights. She also earned a Certificate in International Affairs and Strategy from Sciences Po (France) where she lived and studies on university exchange.

After graduating, Anna-Maria worked for the Canadian Red Cross, where she held various positions.

“During my time, I was deployed to the wildfire response in Fort McMurray in 2016 and then subsequently to B.C. in 2017. But mostly, this time really reaffirmed my passion for international law. Part of that included an opportunity where I was selected to represent the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement during initial discussions on lethal autonomous weapon systems—in a flashier sense, killer robots—with the government of Canada,” she says. 

“It’s here that I began to think about the legal implications of new technology and armed conflict,” she says. “As I sat in those discussions with leaders on robotics, international lawyers, advocates, and representatives from the judge advocate general, I realized that I lacked the credential legitimacy to provide critique to the applicable law. So this has catapulted me into – to pursue a qualifying law degree.”

That took her to St. Edmund’s College at Cambridge University.

“It was one of the most challenging and rewarding periods of my life. I was humbled, torn down and built back up again to be a more deliberate, critical and empathetic thinker,” she says. “My education here was so rich and rewarding and challenging and I hope it will make me an excellent lawyer.

“I was taught by world-renowned legal thinkers. Not surprisingly, Cambridge attracted some of the brightest legal minds to participate in speaking engagements, networking events or workshops.”

Anna-Marie receive her law degree in July 2020 with the highest marks in law at St. Edmund’s College for that year. Her plans to immediately pursue a master of laws in National Security Law at Georgetown University were disrupted by COVID-19.

As a result, she spent the past year working for the Canadian Red Cross as a senior advisor for government relations.

“I support on policy, proposal development, lobbying obligations and a host of other interesting things. This role has been tremendously humbling and I’m so grateful to work with colleagues who are responding to COVID-19 in Canada and around the world.”

Now that the pandemic restrictions are being relaxed, Anna-Marie will move to Washington, D.C., to begin her studies as the latest Global Grant scholar from our District as part of Georgetown National Security Law Fellowship program.

Read about previous District 5370 Global Grant scholars:

Rotary Grant Scholarship provided Amy Smith an opportunity to work with an Australian Aboriginal community   

Kassia Fardoe: from RYLE to the London School of Economics

From Whitehorse to Cape Town as a Rotary Global Grant scholar

“Global grant scholarships are a fabulous way for Rotarians to really touch the future,” says Past District Governor Ingrid Neitsch, who worked with the Rotary Club of Edmonton to facilitate Anna-Marie’s scholarship. It involved reaching out to other clubs to secure donations to support the scholarship, which is also funded by District Designated Funds and The Rotary Foundation.

“A Global Grant scholarship has to be based on one of the areas of focus and Anna-Marie’s area is peace and conflict resolution,” Ingrid says. “The candidates need to have and demonstrate excellent leadership skills. They need to show commitment to community service. They need to have a record of academic success. They need to have well-defined and realistic goals for their future, ideas about how to advance in their field and also a commitment to include some commitment to Rotary’s way of living and values.”

In addition to the Rotary scholarship, Anna-Marie has also received a Viscount Bennett Scholarship from the Law Society of Alberta and will attend Georgetown as a national security law scholar.

Anna-Marie has already been able to attend a virtual meeting of the Rotary Club of Capitol Hill, which will be her host club during her studies. 

“The club is so welcoming and absolutely filled with international lawyers. I’m really excited to start to join their meetings because they really reflect the diversity and expertise of the D.C.  community,” she says.

“They’ve paired me up with a mentor [who is] the legislative assistant to the chief of the army. I spoke with her in March and we had discussions about national security, life in D.C., the attacks in the Capitol and all of her work, and in particular of course, what’s intersecting with national security law.”

This club will also host another Global Grant scholar from France who is the same program at Georgetown.

“I’m so glad to be connected and to be going somewhere which is really at the centre of national security work in the world,” Anna-Marie says. “The U.S. and Georgetown University offer unique expertise. They offer a focus on cutting-edge issues, which will give me the opportunity to develop a stronger background and best prepare me to contribute to this field in Canada.”

All students in her classes will be required to be fully vaccinated and will be attending classes in person.

“After all of these lockdowns, I’m really just excited to get into that library and study with other people” she says.

“The course offering is extensive,” she says. “I’m particularly excited to pursue cyber and national security, national security law through an immigration framework, a space law seminar—how could you not—and war crimes and prosecutions.

“The aim of my research is to undertake a legal analysis of cyber operations, looking at them as a means and method of warfare to consider different operations that may reflect legality or alternatively disproportionate or unnecessary military action,” she says. “My goal is to understand whether there’s a potential benefit to this technology in conflict, whether it can indeed be more humane without sacrificing principles of humanity or fundamental protections afforded by international humanitarian law.”

And what does the future hold for Anna-Marie?

“Ultimately, my intention is to give back meaningfully to my community and to contribute thoughtful arguments and policies for national security issues in Canada and globally, and to contribute to peace-building and to represent the legal profession with the highest level of professionalism, diligence and advocacy,” she says. 

“In the short term, I’m focused on deepening my critical legal knowledge and qualifying as a lawyer in Canada. I’m currently studying for the qualification exams to transfer my U.K. law degree as well as working towards the New York bar, which is particularly useful for practice in public international law.”

New satellite e-club links young professional from around the world

They live half a world from each other, but they are connected to each other as charter members of a new satellite club.

For some this means they are reconnecting with Rotary a decade or more after they participated in the Rotary Youth Exchange (RYE) program or were members of an Interact club. Others are connecting with Rotary for the first time.

The Satellite E-Club of Canada One (SECCO) Global Professionals, sponsored by the Rotary E-Club of Canada One (RECCO), celebrated receiving its charter on the afternoon of Saturday, May 1.

PDG Elly Contreras (RECCO), who is credited for planting the seed that grew into the young professionals e-club, says she was inspired by Rotary International president Holger Knaack.

“When Holger was talking about youth and youth exchange students, I thought that everyone knew of students who they could contact about this new club,” Elly says. 

“Several Rotarians helped connect us with former students and we ended up with nine members for this new e-club. Eight is the minimum for a new satellite club.”

The nine charter members are spread across four continents. 

President Holger was one of the speakers to address the new Rotarians. He congratulated them on the structure of their new club.

“This is really a great idea, because Rotary works in different ways,” he said.  “I am asking clubs to change but I’m not asking you to change. You are on that path.”

He reflected on how meaningful the 2020-2021 theme (Rotary Opens Doors) had become in light of the pandemic.  “When I chose this theme, I had no idea how it would fit. It works in different directions,” he said.

“Rotary is not just a club you join, it is an invitation to endless opportunities.”

District Governor Jim Ferguson, a charter member of the RECCO, also congratulated the members of the e-club.

“It’s a big deal to charter a new club at any time (and) especially during a pandemic, but if anyone can do it, it’s our e-club,” he said. “Welcome to our District. I am so glad you are back in the Rotary family.”

RECCO president Tammy Waugh had a surprise for each of the new members—a Paul Harris Fellowship, provided by an anonymous donor to The Rotary Foundation.

“On behalf of RECCO, I am really pleased to welcome you to Rotary,” she said. “We are so proud of your accomplishments and look forward to seeing your success as your club grows and prospers.”

SECCO chair Linda Alarova from Finland

SECCO chair Linda Alarova, who now works as an insurance customer experience specialist in Finland, reflected on the impact of her RYE experience in 2007-2008, when she was hosted by the Rotary Club of Cochrane (District 5360).

“I came back to Finland as a totally different person than I was when I left a year earlier,” she said. “This year changed me as a person and gave me direction for my future plans. The Rotary exchange program gave me a lot and when I was invited to join Rotary it was a great honour for me, to be part of establishing a new online club.” 

“I am amazed to be surrounded here by talented young professionals from all over the world and we have so much fun when we meet. I think our club’s future looks really good because we have such a huge passion to do good for communities all over the world.”

She also expressed gratitude for what RECCO members did to help establish the new satellite club. “This club has given us endless support during our establishing time. We could not have received a warmer welcome to Rotary.

Laura Ritter from Germany, who as an exchange student spent 2012-2013 in Taiwan and now works as an UN lounger at UNICEF in New York, invited everyone who attended the event, including family members, RECCO members and Rotarians from other clubs that hosted youth exchange students, to brainstorm answers to two questions:

  • What are the most important challenges Rotary need to address in the near future?
  • What do you expect of young Rotarians like members of SECCO Global Professionals?

She concluded the exercise by saying, “These are great ideas and we will take them into consideration as we begin to think about our very first project.”

Laura has been active in Rotex since returning from her exchange. Rotex is a society of past Rotary Youth Exchange alumni that engages with current Inbounds and Outbounds to better their exchange experience overall. 

She was a keynote speaker during the youth exchange meeting held prior to the month’s Rotary International convention. 

The final speaker was SECCO chair-elect Fabiana Leite, now a lawyer in Sao Paulo, Brazil, who was an exchange student in 2003-2004 hosted by the Rotary Club of Riverview.

“Good night, good evening, good morning to all of you around the globe because this definitely works for all of you guys today,” she began. “Our meetings and times of our meeting are very hard to set because we have a full range of time differences.”

SECCO meets on the first and third Saturday each month at 2:00 p.m. MDT, which is 11:00 p.m. in Helsinki, 10:00 p.m. in Berlin, 5:00 p.m. in Sao Paulo and 6:00 a.m. Sunday morning in Canberra, Australia. And for the two members who live in Vancouver it’s 1:00 p.m.

Fabiana introduced the nine new Rotarians, each of whom spoke briefly about why they joined SECCO. Most referred to the opportunities SECCO provides to meet like-minded professionals from around the world.

Since the charter event, two new members from Africa have joined the club and two other individuals have expressed interest in becoming members of SECCO.

The new club is already planning its first project, which will help Project Amigo expand its computer lab to meet the needs of its growing student population.

“They say they did this to express appreciation to me for assisting them establish their club,” says Elly, who spends the winter in Mexico as the Canadian representative to Project Amigo.

Anyone interested in learning more or in joining the club can contact it via email:

Burkina Faso is one of the fastest growing displacement crises in Africa

It is estimated that about 2.5 million people have been forced to flee their homes and at least 13.4 million require humanitarian assistance.

The instability, insecurity and the pandemic present in Burkina Faso have made it difficult for aid workers to reach displaced families. ShelterBox has partnered with the NGO Help to support vulnerable families.

Rihanata’s family is one of 900 that received aid from ShelterBox. Rihanata and her family were forced to flee their home and take refuge in another village with only one makeshift shelter made from plastic bags. After receiving aid from ShelterBox, they have been able to live more comfortably.

Rihanata  says, “We fled in broad daylight to save our lives when armed men burst into our village and forced us to leave and seek refuge in another village. When we arrived, we didn’t know where to take shelter, so the three of us set up the tent here. When it rained, we were on our feet, afraid. When it stopped raining, we took out all our waterlogged belongings to dry. We really didn’t know where to go. It was hard because there wasn’t even space. To lie down to sleep, we had to fold in four. So, we were overjoyed when we were given an emergency shelter built by Help with the support of ShelterBox. We feel more at ease now.”

In 2021, we have worked again with Help to support more families with tarpaulins, kitchen sets, sleeping mats, blankets and other essential items, including soap and buckets. Aid distributions are now complete and we’re currently planning for our next project.

Learn more about our response in Burkina Faso:


Consider donating to ShelterBox Canada before the end of the Rotary year.

So far this Rotary year, clubs and individual Rotarians in our District have contributed more than $32,000 to ShelterBox Canada.

Click here to view District Governor Jim Ferguson’s challenge to District 5370 Rotary clubs to support ShelterBox.

Donate to ShelterBox Canada at or mail cheques to ShelterBox Canada, 159 Jane Street, Office 2, Toronto, Ontario M6S 3Y8.

Want someone to speak to your club about the work of ShelterBox? Contact Rotarian and volunteer ShelterBox Canada ambassador Bernie Kreiner ( or 780-865-9355.

16 Edmonton area non-Rotarians honoured during virtual Integrity Awards ceremony

The woman who has been the public face of Alberta’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic was among 16 non-Rotarians receiving awards at the 17th annual Edmonton Capital Region Integrity Awards ceremony, held virtually on Monday evening, May 17.

The people who were honoured were selected by clubs in the Edmonton area because they live lives that are consistent with the four-way test and exemplify Rotary’s motto of “Service Above Self.”

This year, for the first time, Rotaract clubs joined Rotary clubs to put forward names of individuals who they felt should be honoured.

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, was reluctant to accept the award as an individual, but did so on behalf of her team.

The May 17 issue of the Edmonton Journal quoted Hinshaw as saying, “While I am the public spokesperson for my team working on the COVID-19 response, I could not do what has been done this year without all of them. I don’t feel that I can put myself above the team while being nominated for an individual award.”

Slides showing the faces and names of members of the team were shown during her remarks while accepting the award.

Dr. Hinshaw was nominated by the Rotary Club of Edmonton West.

This year’s event was co-ordinated by the Rotary Club of Edmonton, with president-elect Jim Saunderson and past president Neil Lang serving as co-chairs. Their club was also responsible for the awards in 2020 and will take on the role again for 2022. 

After that, another club will become the lead club for the next three years.

The MC for the evening was another member of the Edmonton club. Lesley MacDonald has emceed every awards ceremony since the Edmonton Capital Region Integrity Awards were established in 2008.

Prior to this year, 158 non-Rotarians received Integrity Awards.

In addition to Dr. Hinshaw, recipients included:

Margo Long (nominated by the Rotary Club of Edmonton Whyte Avenue)—The president and CEO of Youth Empowerment and Support Services (YESS) “is great at communicating the need for community support for youth in our city.” YESS provides immediate low-barrier overnight and day services, temporary supportive housing and individualized wrap-around supports for young people aged 14-24.

John Ashton (Rotary Club of Sherwood Park)—“John has led a life of service to his community, Alberta and Canada and has a legacy of achievements … he spearheaded efforts to bring public art and heritage recognition to Sherwood Park,” as president of the Heritage Mile Society. “The Heritage Mile is a tribute to Strathcona County’s rural heritage and gives us a wonderful snapshot of the history of the county.”

Clarence W. Shields (Rotary Club of Nisku-Leduc)—“Clarence has committed time and support to many community service projects … One of Clarence’s proudest events is the Shield’s Annual Free Christmas Dinner serving dinner to 600-plus people, which his family has been doing for 44 years in Fort McMurray and then Nisku.”

Mieko Ouchi (Rotary Club of Edmonton Urban Spirits)—“Mieko Ouchi, an actor, director and filmmaker, understands how powerful a tool theatre can be to engage young people. Theatre can show them the potential consequences of their choices and leave them with a clearer understanding of complex issues.”

Cecilia Blasetti (Rotary Club of Edmonton)—The recently retired head of the Boyle McCauley Health Centre “worked with many dedicated staff and board members who shared her passion for ensuring that the most marginalized members of our community receive accessible, high-quality health care.”

Kathy Hamelin (Rotary Club of Edmonton Northeast)—“She became a lifelong advocate for Indigenous families and healing through community building, sharing traditional knowledge and ensuring people get the medicine they need, no matter what.”

Germaine Chau (Rotary Club of Edmonton Northeast)—The “Book Lady” at Sports Central is “a big believer in literacy and very committed to helping every child read and develop a love for books. Germaine has personally donated over 10,000 books and makes countless phone calls to fundraise … At Sports Central, once children are outfitted with free sports equipment, they are invited to select three books.”

John Liston (Rotary Club of St. Albert)—“John Liston has been a vibrant and caring leader in St. Albert for 26 years. In that time, he has contributed hugely to many worthwhile community organizations; to use he own words, ‘I love to serve.’”

Bernie Travis (Rotary Club of Edmonton Glenora)—“In 2011, Bernie Travis founded the Early Onset Dementia Alberta Foundation (EODAF). She was inspired to do this because of common frustration with the capacity of the health-care systems and services to meet the needs of persons experiencing early-onset dementia and their families.”

Deanna Hagen (Rotary Club of Edmonton Sunrise)—“Deanna is a RCMP officer, serving our community for more than 20 years, who consistently goes above and beyond the call of duty … Deanna was diagnosed with PTSD in 2005 and suffered a duty-related brain injury shortly thereafter that challenged her to the core. She overcame these pitfalls, setbacks, shame and the ‘tough guy’ credo of the RCMP to find her authentic ‘why’ and thrive once again.” She is the Youth Strategies Program Coordinator and the Opioid Presentation Coordinator for K Division (Alberta) and in 2015 founded iKare4Kids, a non-profit that provides iPads/tablets to families living at Ronald McDonald House.

Jeff Tetz (Rotary Club of Edmonton Mayfield)—“As the founder of SantaYEG, Jeff has made a difference in the lives of thousands of homeless and disadvantaged people in the Edmonton area. SantaYEG is focused on clothing and feeding Edmonton’s homeless population during the winter months.”

Issa Kamara (Rotary Club of YEG Passport)—“Issa Kamara is a peacebuilder who seeks to create cross-cultural understanding. He is the founder and executive director of Sinkunia Community Development Organization (SCDO), an Edmonton-based non-profit organization that supports the settlement and integration of African immigrant children, youth and families in the community.”

Cassandra Tomas (Rotaract Club of Strathcona Country)—“Cassandra’s passion for running means she went through a lot of running shoes. This sparked a need for a way to recycle her shoes, extending the life once they were no longer suited for marathons. She was the founder of a Soles for Souls chapter in Alberta. Soles for Souls turns used shoes and clothing into opportunity, providing disaster relief and fighting poverty by launching small businesses to sell donated shoes, and protecting the planet by keeping items out of landfills and extending their lifespans.”

Aubrianna Snow (Rotaract Club of MacEwan University)—The vice-president student life of the Students’ Association of MacEwan University for the last two years “is a tireless advocate for vulnerable students and has worked towards a safe MacEwan University campus … She led the creation of the Student Voice on Violence Elimination (SOVE) committee.”

Newel Anderson (Rotaract Club of Edmonton)—“Newell is an ambitious and passionate indiviual who works towards creating an inclusive and empowering environment through his cosmetic line … Though Newel has faced harsh adversity—even personal attacks—his desire to see his community succeed and grow with dignity never faltered.”

Note: These brief descriptions were taken from the evening’s program. To read the full inspiring stories of how these individual contributed and what they achieve for their communities, email Neil Lang to request a copy of the program.

District awards updated; new awards added for 2020-2021

As we move closer to July 1 and the beginning of a Rotary year, it is time to reflect on what went well during 2020 – 2021 and think about the awards the District uses to recognize clubs’ successes.

Both Rotary and Rotaract clubs have until August 1 to apply to receive awards, which will be presented to clubs in the fall. Clubs should submit their award-worthy entries to

A full list of awards can be found at the end of this article.

This year, six new awards have been added to the existing awards for exemplary  community, international and youth service programs and projects, and others that recognize clubs for membership growth and contributions to The Rotary Foundation and Polio Plus.

The new awards include the Annual Theme Award, which replaces the Rotary Club of the Year Award, and another that everyone hopes will never need to be presented again.

In addition, there are new awards that recognize clubs for developing and implementing successful plans to retain and attract members and to increase donations to The Rotary Foundation and Polio Plus. There is also a new award to recognize a club that partners with an Interactive club to serve to change lives, locally or internationally.

Related Articles:

Rotary clubs receive District awards for “Making a Difference” during 2017-18

Inspired to action: District awards celebrate what clubs and Rotarians accomplished in 2018-2019

PDG Tracey Vavrek announces awards that recognize Rotary clubs for what they did to “connect the world” during 2019-2020

The new TRF, Polio Plus and membership awards were inspired by stories that appeared on The Rotary District 5370 News blog about how the Rotary Club of St. Albert encouraged members to support TRF and what several clubs did to grow their membership in 2017-2018.

For the community and international awards, there is an expectation that the projects or programs are sustainable and reflect at least one of Rotary’s seven areas of focus: basic education and literacy; maternal and child health; peace and conflict resolution, water, sanitation and hygiene; economic and community development; disease prevention and treatment; and supporting the environment.


For 2020 – 2021, there is what everyone hopes will be a once-in-a-lifetime award. The Pandemic Pivot Award will recognize a club that “responded effectively to the challenges imposed by COVID-19 by continuing to meet, to put ‘Service Above Self,’ and to ‘build goodwill and better friendships.’”


Rotary District 5370 Awards

Annual Theme Award 

This award is presented to a club that serves locally and/or internationally in ways that reflect the Rotary International theme for the current year and are related to one or more of Rotary’s seven areas of focus.

Membership Awards

Annual Membership Growth Award –This award recognizes a club that achieves the greatest net percentage increase in active membership during the Rotary year (July 1- June 30).

Membership Growth and Retention Plan Award – This award recognizes a club that demonstrates a planned approach to retain existing members and to attract new members, resulting in a net increase in membership.

Public Image and Marketing Award

This award recognizes a club for its planned approach to internal and external communications that utilizes a variety of tools and techniques to increase awareness of Rotary and to support the club’s service, fundraising and/or membership initiatives.

Community Service Award

This award recognizes a club for exemplary programs and projects related to one or more of Rotary’s areas of focus that achieve sustainable change to the lives of community members. The programs and projects should be based on needs assessments that involved community members.

International Service Award

This award recognizes a club for exemplary programs and projects that change the lives of people in other countries in sustainable ways related to one or more of Rotary’s areas of focus. The programs and projects should be based on needs assessments that involved community members.

Youth Awards

Support for Youth Award –This award recognizes a club for exemplary programs and projects related to one or more of Rotary’s areas of focus that supports youth in need, either locally or internationally.

Rotary/Youth Partnership Award – This award recognizes a club that partners with an Interact or Earlyact club to meet community or international needs related to one or more of Rotary’s areas of focus.

Foundation and Polio Plus Awards

Annual Fund Award – This award is presented to the club whose members made the highest per capital contribution to the TRF Annual Fund during the Rotary year (July 1 – June 30).

End Polio Now Award – This award is presented to the club whose members made the highest per capital contribution to the Polio Plus Fund during the Rotary year (July 1 – June 30).

Rotary Foundation Fundraising Award –This award recognizes a club that develops and implements a strategy that results in an increase in its per capita giving to the Annual Fund.

End Polio Now Fundraising Award –This award recognizes a club that develops and implements a strategy that results in an increase its per capita giving to the End Polio Now Fund.

Pandemic Pivot Award

This award recognizes a club that has responded effectively to the challenges imposed by COVID-19 by continuing to meet, to put Service Above Self, and to “build goodwill and better friendships.”

Frank Devlyn Award

This award is presented annually to the club that creates meaningful employment opportunities for individuals with development disabilities at a rate greater than five per cent of club membership. The winner is selected by Inclusion Alberta.

You would never use this logo, so why do so many Rotarians continue to use this one?

In a mid-April email to District leaders, RI President Holger Knaack and President-Elect Shekhar Mehta wrote that, “Over the next several months, we’ll ask Rotary, Rotaract and Interact clubs to update their logos to align with (Rotary International’s) brand standards.”

If you are confused by what the RI leaders are talking about, that’s not surprising.

Eight years after Rotary’s rebranding, many Rotary clubs continue to use a previous version of Rotary’s mark of excellence (wheel). An informal survey of a sample of club websites in our District shows that about half continue to use the MOE that was retired in 2013.

That’s when RI modernized its branding, which is something that happens with many organizations. Well-known brands such as Pepsi Cola, VISA and Starbucks have evolved their brands over time.

And this is not the first time that the RI brand has changed, as you can see in the graphic at the beginning of this article.

Clubs are encouraged to use only the new branding on websites, in print documents and signage, and on social media.

In their email, President Holger and PE Shekhar pointed out that, “Repeated and consistent use of our logos builds global recognition of what we do. Consistently using a unified bond signals to the public—including potential members and donors—that local clubs are supporting the community and those clubs are part of the global Rotary network.”

“Studies show that consistent logo use builds organizational trust and awareness,” Rotary brand specialist Liz Thiam writes in an article on the RI blog Rotary Voices. “When a club logo isn’t used properly it can create confusion and mistrust.”

In another Rotary Voices article, the vice-chair of the RI Communications Committee,  Amanda Wendt (RC of Melbourne, Australia), writes, “In today’s world, individuals are constantly bombarded by thousands of advertising messages. It’s vital that we have a consistent, high-quality visual presentation of our brand to cut through all that noise.”

McDonald’s is an example of a company with a brand recognized worldwide. When people see the golden arches, they know exactly what they will get: an environment that’s comfortable for families, affordable prices and food prepared the same way every time.

RI’s brand reflects who we are as well as who we want to be.

The new brand consists of the familiar wheel, which is now shown in a single colour, with the word Rotary on the left.

The use of this logo is limited to Rotary International, but forms the basis from which Rotary, Rotaract and Interact clubs can create their own club logo. The Rotary wheel (the mark of excellence) should never be used by itself.

“We all have an important role to play in being custodians of the Rotary brand,” Amanda Wendt writes. “The great news is, it’s very easy to ensure your club or District is using the correct logo. Through the Rotary Brand Center you can create a free, professional and on-brand logo within minutes!”

The brand centre has templates and tools to help you create club and District logos, program and event logos, social media posts, websites, business card and event flyers and banners.

At the time when the new logo was introduced, it came with guidelines to help clubs, Districts and other Rotary entities use customized logos to strengthen their ties with Rotary’s worldwide brand.

For example, clubs are not permitted to alter the design, which is consistent with branding guidelines of all organizations. For example, you will never visit a certain fast-food restaurant with red or green or blue arches. MacDonald’s is recognizable worldwide by its iconic golden arches.

Here are some guidelines to keep in mind:

  • Your club should use your Rotary club signature rather than the main official Rotary logo for club communications and promotions.
  • Your club can use the name “Rotary” in connection with a club activity if you relate the activity to the club, not to Rotary International.
  • If your club wants to promote itself with another organization or corporation, such as in the name of a building, place, or event, use your club’s full name, not just “Rotary.” Don’t use a name such as The Rotary Library, The Rotary Coffeehouse, or The Third Annual Rotaryfest.
Click here to access Public Image courses from the Rotary Learning Center.

Rotary brand specialist Liz Thiam writes that, “Over the next year, we are going to talk a lot more about branding and how to use Rotary’s logos properly. We are working with you to build a strong Rotary because a strong Rotary—one that is recognizable, trusted, and united—has a much greater chance of attracting members, donors, volunteers and partners.

“You can help by taking a look at your club logo. Do you see your club name along with the Rotary or Rotaract logo? Are you using the correct Rotary colour palette? Is the Rotary wheel clearly visible, free from other graphics or designed elements? If not, then it might be time to update it. It’s really easy—just visit the Brand Center to get started.”

Circumstances required different approaches, incoming District Governor says

District Governor-Elect Donna Barrett is optimistic that 2021-2022 will be the year we return to in-person meetings and service projects, but understands that we will likely still be living with restrictions when she assumes leadership of the District on July 1.

Club visits will be conducted differently than in previous years when District Governors spent the summer and fall travelling throughout the District.

“I am planning right now to meet with clubs virtually, early in the fall,” Donna says. Later in the year she hopes to visit clubs in person. 

“I’m really looking forward to connecting with clubs and the people in clubs and experiencing Rotary fellowship,” she says. “I am hoping that as we get into the late fall and early spring that we will be able to connect face-to-face rather than just virtually.”

She also looks forward to an in-person District conference toward the end of her year as governor.

The District conference will be on May 27-28, 2022. “We pushed it as far back as we could in the hopes that we can bring everybody together,” Donna says.

“I’m hoping that we will be able to showcase some of the great projects that our clubs have done during the year.”

The theme for the conference will be “Leadership in Service.”

Donna hopes that during club visits there will be opportunities for her to participate with Rotarians in service projects.

“I am hoping to really emphasize the importance of service. Ideally, I would like to visit the clubs when they’re having their service projects and participate in service with the clubs,” she says. “In order to do that, I would need the clubs to let me know when their service events are and I would arrange my schedule around them.”

Some club visits will be a homecoming of sorts for Donna, who spent six years as superintendent of the Northland School Division, which encompasses schools in smaller Northern Alberta communities.

“Northland School Division mirrors a lot of the geography of our District, so I’m very familiar with some of the communities in the northern part of the province, where I was working and where now I will be connecting through Rotary,” she says. “I’m excited about getting back to those communities.”

Prior to working with Northland, Donna’s career was with the Edmonton Public School Board.

“I think I had almost every position you could have in education, starting with being a teacher and I was a school principal and a consultant,” she says. “Then I worked in the district office as an assistant superintendent until I left Edmonton Public in 2010 to become the superintendent of Northland School Division.”

Donna has been a member of the Rotary Club of Edmonton Sunrise since the club was chartered in 2003. She was club president in 2018.

“Our club does a lot in schools and because of my education background, I was always interested participating in those activities,” she says.

“In 2009 and 2010, I had the opportunity to be a part of the Belize Literacy Project and for two summers I went to Belize with other educators to provide professional development for teachers in Belize,” Donna says. “That was a wonderful experience, being able to see the impact that Rotary could have internationally, as well as locally.”

Donna’s involvement at the District level began in 2016 when she joined the Learning and Development Committee, where she served as chair for three years, including one year when she was also the DG nominee-designate, the first step toward becoming governor.

Donna’s preparation to assume the role of District Governor has been unlike that of any who have gone before.

“One of the things that makes my experience different than previous District Governors is that I’ve done everything virtually. Except for my very first learning assembly, a zone experience in Niagara Falls a couple of years ago, everything I’ve done, all of the connections I’ve made, have been online,” she says. “I must say that transition to online learning has gone really, really well. RI is really to be commended for the work they’ve done providing that kind of support.”

In February, she was scheduled to be in Orlando for Rotary’s International Assembly with all the other incoming District Governors from around the world who would have been there to prepare to lead their Districts.

“I’m hoping that before my year is over that I will be able to go to an international convention and connect face-to-face with some of the governors that I’ve met online.”

During the International Assembly, the RI president-elect announced the theme for the upcoming year.

“The theme—Serve to Change Lives—really resonates with me and it impacts how I’m thinking about my club visits,” Donna says.

She hopes that clubs, either individually or in partnership with other clubs, will plan at least one day of service in their community, noting that Rotary Days of Service is a RI presidential initiative for 2021-2022.

Shekhar Mehta, Rotary Club of Calcutta-Mahanagar, West Bengal, India

About Rotary Days of Service, Rotary International President-elect Shekhar Mehta wrote: “I challenge every club to plan and host at least one practical and action-oriented Rotary Day of Service during the 2021-22 Rotary year. The event should address a challenge facing your community that fits in one or more of Rotary’s areas of focus and brings together volunteers from within and outside Rotary.”

“This initiative really focuses on thinking about service and providing service in a way that engages Rotarians and engages non-Rotarians in coming together to serve their community,” Donna says.

Donna believes that service can be an entry point for future Rotarians.

“I think that membership is the result of what we do and that everything that we do as Rotarians impacts on membership. There is a real link to membership development,” she says. “If you’re doing more, if you’re engaging people, the impact of Rotary will be greater with more members.”

Even so, Donna has not set goals for attracting new members. Before looking to attract new members, she suggests focusing first on member retention.

“Retention is a bigger membership issue than encouraging new membership,” she says, suggesting that member retention may be easier now than previously. 

“Clubs don’t need to look the way they have in the past. There is more flexibility,” she says. “The requirements that used to be there aren’t there anymore. There are other ways of being part of Rotary.”

This could mean becoming part of an e-club, a satellite club or a passport club. 

“There are lots of opportunities so that people don’t just leave Rotary. There may be another club that’s a better match, perhaps in terms of when and how it meets,” Donna says. “We can help facilitate another kind of match for Rotarians if their current club isn’t working for them.”

She thinks that there are lessons to be learned about retention by listening to former Rotarians, pointing to an initiative earlier this year to survey people who had left their Rotary clubs over the past five years.

“Our former members told us they joined Rotary for the fellowship and for the service, so I think an emphasis on engaging our members in service where they can participate and really see and feel the impact of the work they do will help us to retain members,” Donna says. “By reaching out to the community and saying, ‘What are the things that really matter here?’ and then aligning our service projects to support those things will increase Rotary’s profile and help people to understand the contributions of Rotary and to see Rotary is an organization they want to belong to.”

As she looks forward to her year as District Governor, Donna sees a bit of a silver lining in our pandemic experience.

“I think that what we’re doing is going forward, not going back to something that Rotary was before,” she say. “What can we bring from this experience that will contribute to an even stronger Rotary as we go forward into the future?”

At least 10 reasons to attend the 2021 virtual District Learning Assembly

Not registered for the District Learning Assembly on Saturday morning, April 17? Undecided about attending?

Well, we think you should register today! And we have at least 10 reasons why this is a not-to-be-missed event:

  1. It’s Virtual! No travel. No accommodation costs. No meals to buy. P.S. You don’t even have to wear pants, unless you really want to. 
  2. RI President Holger Knaack will be there. As Rick said in the movie Casablanca, “Of all the Rotary Districts in all the towns in all the world, he walks into our Learning Assembly.” P.S. Maybe we didn’t get that quotation quite right, but it is special and an honour that with 530 Rotary Districts worldwide Holger found time in his busy schedule to speak at our Learning Assembly.
  3. It’s not just another Zoom meeting! The Learning and Development Committee contracted Infinite Event Services to produce an outstanding virtual event. P.S. Infinite Event Services has experience with online events with 1,500 or more attendees. These guys are pros!
  4. The Learning and Development Committee listened. And the committee used what it heard to create a program that responds to what Rotarians said they wanted.
  5. Have you accepted a club leadership position for 2021-2022? There’s a breakout session for that: president-elect; treasurer; secretary; membership, public image and international service chairs. 
  6. Not in a club leadership role? There are breakout sessions for you too: RI Learning Centre, Clubrunner 101; peacebuilding; technology; community service; fundraising; and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI). P.S. You can also attend any of the position-specific breakouts (See reason #5).
  7. What’s up with the RI 2021-2022 theme “Serve to Change Lives?” DGE Donna Barrett will explain what it means for us. P.S. Next year’s theme is reflected in the theme for the Learning Assembly: “Leadership to Change Lives and Grow Rotary.”
  8. Outstanding Keynoters—Part 1: Michael Angelo Caruso is an internationally recognized expert on leadership and a Past District Governor who helps Rotarians to grow and to lead their clubs.
  9. Outstanding Keynoters—Part 2: Niigaan Sinclair is a university professor and an award-winning First Nation writer, editor and activist who credits Rotary youth programs for changing his life.
  10. Visit with Rotarians from other clubs. Okay, these visits will be virtual, but consider them a reminder that there are other Rotarians out there waiting to meet you when we are able to gather in person again.

Bonus Reason: 

It’s FREE! What else can we say?

We promised at least 10 reasons to register right away for the District 5370 Learning Assembly and came up with 11. 

What about you? What is your reason for registering for the Learning Assembly?

Click here to go to the registration page! We look forward to seeing you on April 17!

Fellowships link Rotarians from around the world with shared interests

We all know that Rotary is about fellowship. It’s why many of us joined and why even more of us stay.

Fellowship can go beyond our clubs, Districts and even country boundaries when we opt to join one of the more than 80 Rotary Fellowships.

According to information from the Rotary International website, “Rotary Fellowships consist of members who share a common interest in recreational activities, sports, hobbies or professions. These groups help expand skills, foster vocational development and enhance the Rotary experience by exploring interests while developing connections around the world.”

Fellowships are open to all Rotarians and their families and to participants and alumni of all Rotary and Foundation programs.  They function independently of Rotary International, establishing their own rules, dues requirements and administrative structure.

There are fellowships for Rotarians who are passionate about antique automobiles, magic, bird watching, marathon running, photography, railroads, Rotary on stamps and many other areas of interest.

One Rotarian who has taken advantage of this opportunity to connect with Rotarians from around the world is Betty Screpnek (Rotary Passport Club of Northwest Spirit), who has been a member of the International Travel and Hosting Fellowship for about 20 years since discovering the ITHF House of Friendship booth at a RI convention.

“You have Rotarians from around the world sharing their cultures,” the past District 5370 Governor (2012-2014) says.

ITHF organizes tours for Rotarians prior to and following Rotary International conventions, including ones associated with the 2018 convention in Toronto that Berry organized.

“The pre-convention tour began in Ottawa and we travelled to Quebec City and Montreal before ending up in Toronto,” Betty says. “After the convention, there was rail trip from Vancouver to Calgary, which arrived during the Stampede. Rotarians from all over the world were excited with these tours.”

She finds that other Rotarians are willing to help plan these tours.

“All I had to do was get on the phone to Rotarians in these community to ask what to see and what to do.”

Betty is already thinking about pre and post convention tours for 2025 when the RI convention will be in Calgary.

“These tours will definitely include visits to the mountains,” she says.

Being one of more than 1,000 ITHF members meant that Betty and her husband George had the opportunity to host a Rotary couple from India a few years ago.

“They found us through the membership list,” she says. “We hosted them in Edmonton for three days before we drove them to Jasper. We are still friends.”

If the Screpneks were to visit India, they could give them a call.

“We wouldn’t expect them to host us in their home, but we could ask them for advice on where to go and what to see,” Betty says. “Maybe they could meet us for lunch.”

These visits offer opportunities to learn about each other’s culture.

“When the couple from India were in Canada, they were open to all my questions,” Berry says. “They were comfortable sharing their culture.”

A newer member of the travel fellowship is Lou Henderson (RC of Camrose), who joined after visiting the ITHF booth at the 2018 convention in Toronto.

“We have not had an opportunity to either host or be hosted, but we are looking forward to the day when can connect with Rotarians in a travel destination,” she says. “We love to meet new people and love any opportunity to experience a place with local residents and get off the tourist path.”

Her husband Morris (RC of Camrose Daybreak) joined BREWS (Beers Rotarians Enjoy Worldwide) after visiting that fellowship’s booth in Toronto.

“We were looking forward to the BREWS event at the Honolulu convention,” Lou says, noting that the convention was transitioned to a virtual event due to the pandemic.

That didn’t mean that BREWS members didn’t have opportunities to share their enthusiasm for beer.

“BREWS has continued to be active during the pandemic by switching to virtual events,” Lou says. “They have hosted several different opportunities to enjoy beers of the world over Zoom and are managing to keep their members connected.”

Like the 2020 convention before it, the 2021 convention that was scheduled for Taiwan will be held virtually, but there will still be an opportunity to learn about many of the fellowships that are expected to have booths in the virtual House of Friendship.

You can also visit websites created by most of the fellowships to learn more about their activities and membership.

Alberta Rotarians: Have your say on charitable gaming, including 50/50 raffles

Morris  Henderson (RC of Camrose Daybreak) wants to hear the thoughts of Rotarians related to charitable gaming in Alberta, particularly particularly about online 50/50 raffles.

Morris is one of approximately 90 individual representing organizations depending on proceeds from casinos, bingo, raffles and pull tickets who have been invited by Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis (AGLC) to participate in its stakeholder review of the charitable gaming sector in Alberta.

The closure of casinos due to the pandemic has made fundraising a challenge for many clubs in Alberta, some of which have considered online 50/50 raffles as an alternative.

“The Rotary Club of Camrose Daybreak hosted a casino in September 2019 and the slot for our next casino is the third quarter of 2023, a 46 to 48 months wait, but with the COVID casino closures, it is unknown when we will get a casino date,” Morris says.

“With the uncertainty of casino availability, I have been looking into online 50/50 raffles of $20,000 and less to fundraise for our community support initiatives,” he says.

Morris feels that some of the new terms and conditions for online 50/50 raffles announced by AGLC on February 2 are positive, but thinks other changes have created barriers for clubs considering this fundraising option.

Morris identifies three positive changes:

  • For raffles of $20,000 and less, licences are still free with simplified reporting.
  • Receipts and tickets are generated by the system such as and emailed to the buyer. There is no need to mail tickets.
  • The online system can select the winning ticket, so there is no need to print ticket stubs to draw from a barrel.

On the other hand, there are barriers that remain:

  • 50/50 raffles where tickets are sold over a period longer than one day must guarantee a prize payout of 20% of the total ticket value. For example. a $10,000 licence requires a minimum $2,000 prize regardless of actual sales, even if you have to use non-gaming funds to meet the guarantee and expenses.
  • The ticket packages you offer have fixed availability – if you offer 80 packages of 25 tickets for $50 and they are selling out faster than you thought, you can request an increase from AGLC but the online system supplier is prohibited from changing the 80 you initially chose.

“I am advocating for changes to eliminate the barriers I have described,” Morris says. “You can help me by sharing your experience with 50/50 raffles.”

  • Have you held traditional 2-part ticket, draw from barrel 50/50 raffles?
  • Are you holding online 50/50 raffles? If yes, what experiences can you share?
  • Have you considered holding online 50/50 raffles but decided not to? Why?
  • Do/would the barriers I mentioned hold you back from online 50/50 raffles?
  • Do you have success stories to share with other clubs?

“You can let me know your thoughts on this important topic by email to,” Morris says.

As a participant in the AGLC charitable gaming review, Morris also wants to hear your thoughts about any aspect of gaming.

“Let me know improvements you would like to see in casino, bingo, raffle or pull-ticket gaming,” he says. “You can also let AGLC know by email to by mid-April to be heard.”