Speakers

John Hewko

Keynote Speaker
RI General Secretary and CEO
Member, Rotary Club of Kyiv, Ukraine

John Hewko is the general secretary and chief executive officer of Rotary International and The Rotary Foundation.

From 2004 to 2009, Hewko was vice president for operations and compact development for the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), a U.S. government agency established in 2004 to deliver foreign assistance to the world’s poorest countries. At MCC, he was the principal United States negotiator for foreign assistance agreements to 26 countries in Africa, Asia, South America, the Middle East, and the former Soviet Union. During his tenure, he completed the negotiation of assistance agreements totaling $6.3 billion to 18 countries for infrastructure, agriculture, water and sanitation, health, and education projects.

Prior to joining MCC, Hewko was an international partner with the law firm Baker & McKenzie, specializing in international corporate transactions in emerging markets. He helped establish the firm’s Moscow office and was the managing partner of its offices in Kyiv and Prague.

While working in Ukraine in the early 1990s, Hewko assisted the working group that prepared the initial draft of the new Ukrainian post-Soviet constitution and was a charter member of the first Rotary club in Kyiv.

Hewko has been a public policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, an adjunct professor of law at Georgetown University, and a visiting scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. He has published papers and articles in leading U.S. and international publications, and he has spoken extensively on political and business issues dealing with the former Soviet Union, Central Europe, Africa, and Latin America. He is also a member of the Council of Foreign Relations.

Hewko holds a law degree from Harvard University, a master’s in modern history from Oxford University (where he studied as a Marshall Scholar), and a bachelor’s in government and Soviet studies from Hamilton College in New York.

As general secretary, Hewko leads a diverse staff of 800 at Rotary International’s World Headquarters in Evanston, Illinois, USA, and seven international offices. He and his partner, Marga, are major donors to the Foundation. They live in Evanston.

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Gordon McInally

Keynote Speaker
RI President-elect
Member, Rotary Club of South Queensfeery, Lothian, Scotland

Gordon R. McInally, a member of the Rotary Club of South Queensferry, Lothian, Scotland, is the selection of the Nominating Committee for President of Rotary International for 2023-24.

McInally lauded Rotary’s ability to adapt technologically during the COVID-19 pandemic, saying the approach should continue and be combined with the best of our past practices as Rotary seeks to grow and increase engagement.

“We have learned there is a willingness within communities to care for one another,” he says, “and we must ensure that we encourage people who have recently embraced the concept of volunteering to join us to allow them to continue giving service.”

McInally says that senior leaders’ ability to communicate directly with club members online will be one positive legacy of the changes Rotary has had to make. But, he adds, “face-to-face meetings remain important, as they encourage greater interaction.”

The best way to increase membership is engagement, according to McInally. To better support clubs, he says, Rotary International, regional leaders, and district teams all need to engage with them. Engagement through social media will reinforce Rotary’s brand and showcase the opportunities that come with it. And, he says, engagement with governments, corporations, and other organizations will lead to meaningful partnerships.

With better engagement, McInally says, “We will grow Rotary both by way of membership and in our ability to provide meaningful service.”

He adds, “Membership is the lifeblood of our organization. I would encourage the use of the flexibility now available to establish new-style clubs that would appeal to a different demographic.”

McInally, a graduate of dental surgery at the University of Dundee, owned and operated his own dental practice in Edinburgh. He was the chair of the East of Scotland branch of the British Paedodontic Society and has held various academic positions. He has also served as a Presbytery elder, chair of Queensferry Parish Congregational Board, and commissioner to the church’s general assembly.

A Rotary member since 1984, McInally has been president and vice president of Rotary International in Great Britain and Ireland. He has also served Rotary International as a director and as member or chair of several committees. He is currently an adviser to the 2022 Houston Convention Committee and chair of the Operations Review Committee. McInally and his wife, Heather, are Major Donors and Benefactors of The Rotary Foundation. They are also members of the Bequest Society.

Lorelei Higgins

Opening Speaker
Mrs. Canada Globe, Women in Need Foundation Ambassador

Lorelei Higgins is a Métis Canadian Cultural Mediator, a Rotary Peace Fellow and Positive Peace  Activator as well as a Governor General’s Canadian Leadership Program alumna. She has worked on community-based projects locally and internationally with government agencies, non-government  organizations and the business sector. These projects centre on peace and conflict transformation, Indigenous matters and the elevation of female voices in leadership. Lorelei has worked across the globe in communities in Africa, Asia, Europe, North America and South America.

Lorelei is the Community Lead for the City of Calgary’s Anti-Racism Program and is working to advance The City of Calgary’s commitments to anti-racism and Truth and Reconciliation. Lorelei is also a consultant with Mediators Beyond Borders International and Canadian Equity Consulting, cultivating projects that focus on Indigenous relations and enhanced diversity, equity and inclusion efforts.

Lorelei has an MBA, with a specialization in leadership. She is passionate about creating bold, open spaces for building peace through cross-cultural learning and the establishment and nurturing of enduring, positive relationships.

As the current Mrs. Canada Globe and a Women in Need Foundation Ambassador, Lorelei is leading efforts to increase female leadership in peacebuilding efforts locally and globally. She is often found adventuring around the world with her family.

Thandeka Tutu-Gxashe

Keynote Speaker
CEO of the Desmond Tutu Campaign Centre

Thandeka Tutu-Gxashe is the CEO of the Desmond Tutu Tutudesk Campaign Centre (DTTCC).

This Campaign addresses the 95 million desk shortage in sub-Saharan Africa, by aiming to provide 20 million of these environmentally friendly, portable Tutudesks by 2025. Thus positively enhancing the lives of African children, their communities and countries and making Africa a more globally competitive continent through improved literacy and education.

Ms. Tutu-Gxashe has been educated and worked in Botswana, Lesotho, Swaziland, UK and the USA. She is passionate about education and public health, especially the fight against HIV/ AIDS, and promoting justice and peace by improving the health and education experiences of young people.

Ms. Tutu-Gxashe received several fellowships whilst completing her MPH at Emory University, Atlanta, Including from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), American Cancer Society, the Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry, the South East AIDS Training Center & the Dekalb County Board of Health.

Thandeka began her professional life in the Dept. of Wildlife and National Parks in Botswana educating rural communities & trying to resolve wildlife vs farming conflicts.

She also worked for a few years as an HR Management Trainee in Corporate South Africa in the gold & coal mining sector.

The majority of her professional life has been spent in clinical research both in the USA and in South Africa managing multi-Center adult clinical trials.
She undertakes public speaking at universities, churches, schools and community groups both at home in South Africa, & internationally.
Thandeka has served on the Boards of several foundations and non-profit organizations. She is currently on the Board of the Desmond Tutu Health Foundation, HPSA (formerly Heifer International (South Africa), the Foundation for Sport, Development and Peace and is Patron of the Pinotage Youth Development Academy. She was named one of 100 Global Real Leaders by Real Leaders Magazine in 2018 and a Social Impact Heroine by Authority Magazine in 2020.
Thandeka is the eldest daughter of the late Archbishop Desmond Tutu & Nomalizo Leah Tutu. She and her husband reside in Cape Town, South Africa and have one son.