Keynote Speakers & Breakout Session Presenters

Don Mebus – Rotary International President’s representative
Ever since his father and grandfather brought him into the Rotary Club of Arlington, Virginia, in 1974, Don Mebus has held club, district and zone offices, and from 2006 to 2008 served on the Rotary International Board of Directors. Don recently completed terms as the Chair of the Council on Legislation Review ad hoc committee for RI, as a member of the RI Operations Review Committee and as Endowment/Major Gift Adviser for Zone 21b. He and his wife, fellow Rotarian Carolyn, who operate Business Insurance Technologies, have been selected to serve as aides to 2017-18 RI President Ian and Juliet Riseley. Carolyn and Don are both Major Donors to the Rotary Foundation, members of the Bequest Society, and Paul Harris Fellow Sustaining Members.  Don has received the Service above Self Award for participating in a clean water project in the State of Gracias a Dios, Honduras and he continues to support the project. He is now helping to raise awareness and funding for the people devastated by the April, 2015 earthquake in Nepal. The couple share a hobby vineyard outside of Memphis, Texas, celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary this past year, and have one married daughter, and two grandchildren.




Dean Rohrs -- Rotary International Board of Directors 2016-2018

Dean her husband Rhino and their 3 children emigrated to Canada from South Africa 26 years ago.  Dean grew up in Zambia and after marrying Rhino lived in Malawi, Namibia and South Africa.  Dean was born into a Rotary family and when Rhino joined Rotary in 1986 became an active Rotary Ann until she joined Rotary in 1989.  On arriving in Vancouver both Dean and Rhino joined the Rotary Club of West Vancouver and at present are members of the Rotary Club of Langley Central in District 5050.

Dean has had a varied career from the early days of being an Operating Room Nurse on Professor Christiaan Barnard’s first heart transplant team to running a Nursery School in Malawi.  Together with Rhino they now owner manage a company that is involved in soil stabilization during road construction.

Dean has served on District and Zone committees; which include: Regional Rotary Coordinator and Regional Rotary Foundation Coordinator, Pacific Northwest PETS Chair, District Governor in 2007/2008. However, her best experience is leading teams of Rotarians, Rotaractors and Interactors to Africa and seeing how this volunteer experience changes their lives.


David Forward - Author of "A Century of Service" & "Doing Good in the World"

David is a member of the Rotary Club of Medford Sunrise, New Jersey, USA. He is the author of 12 books, including A Century of Service: The Story of Rotary International, which he was commissioned to write for the 2005 centennial of Rotary International, Heroes After Hours: Extraordinary Acts of Employee Volunteerism, and The Essential Guide to the Short Term Mission Trip.

David’s latest book is the official history of The Rotary Foundation, Doing Good in the Word: The Inspiring Story of The Rotary Foundation’s First 100 Years. The book takes the reader behind the scenes with Foundation leaders and out into the field with grass roots Rotarians. If you ever wondered how Rotary’s battle against polio began or what motivated Rotarians to establish the Peace Centers you will want to hear David’s presentation. He was a keynote speaker at the Rotary International Assembly and at the Rotary International Convention in Seoul in 2016. David will sell and sign his book at Conference 2017. A Rotarian since 1978, Forward has served as club president, District 7500 (New Jersey, USA) PolioPlus chair, and district governor. He is a Rotary Foundation Major Donor and has received The Rotary Foundation Citation for Meritorious Service. A Realtor with Keller Williams Realty, Forward represented New Jersey for three years on the White House Conference on Small Business. He won the Good Neighbor Award from the National Association of Realtors in 2005 for his volunteer work and Realtor of the Year in 2011. Forward lives in Medford, New Jersey, with his wife and son.


Pamela Goldsmith-Jones

Pamela Goldsmith-Jones has been Member of Parliament for West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky Country since 2015. She is Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Trade. From December 2015 to January 2017 she served as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, representing Canada in areas such as Arctic Policy, Women, Peace and Security, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, and Canada’s agreement with Jordan regarding our mission in Syria. A longtime resident and former mayor of West Vancouver, she demonstrated her commitment to citizen engagement and effectiveness as a bridge-builder, bringing diverse views together through her open and inclusive approach to the creation and implementation of public policy. She holds an executive MBA from Simon Fraser University in Aboriginal Business and Leadership and Bachelor of Arts and Master’s degrees in political science from the University of British Columbia. Pamela and her husband Geoff have been married for 32 years and have three adult children.


Christina Hassan - Youth Exchange: equipping students to change the world 

Christina Hassan speaks about Rotary Youth Exchange as far more than one individual student living abroad: it is the first drop of the tidal wave of impact that a single student will make on the world. So it is important for Rotary to continue investing in the younger generation. In 2006-2007 she was a Youth Exchange student in Germany where she played for the German National Hockey Team. She holds a Masters in Public Health degree and continues studies as a law student at the University of Calgary. Her work experience includes applied cancer research, public health planning, training in reducing maternal mortality rates and an internship with Save the Mothers in Uganda. She has presented her research nationally and internationally and is published in various scientific medical journals. A past president of the University of Waterloo Rotaract Club in 2010 she is now a member of the Rotary Club of Calgary Fish Creek. Encouraged by fellow Rotarian and husband, Hyder Hassan, Christina co-founded FullSoul Canada, which invests in medical delivery kits for hospitals in Uganda.


Sara Eftekhar - Rotary Peace Fellow shares diverse career serving humanity

Sara Eftekhar has created public service announcements on the radio about youth rights, has helped create an agenda of national youth priorities to be used for advocacy, she has worked in an Aboriginal community to raise awareness about children living with disabilities through art and she has served as the B.C Youth Ambassador for the Canadian Council for Refugees. Internationally, she has worked with refugees in Egypt, helped build houses in Ecuador, volunteered as a nurse in Tanzania and she is the co-founder of a community organization in Kenya which aims to help teenage mothers. She has represented Canada at prominent youth programs including the World Youth Congress, the first Global Forum on Youth Policies and the United Nations. Her accomplishments have been recognized with a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, the YWCA Vancouver’s Young Women of Distinction Award and the Top 25 Immigrants of Canada Award. She holds a nursing degree from UBC and she recently completed her graduate degree in Peace, Conflict and Development from the University Bradford as a Rotary Peace Fellow.

Kyle Gomes – A journey through photography
Interactor Kyle Gomes has travelled to Guiyang, China to document free cleft lip and palate surgeries, Refilwe, South Africa to film a biennial school trip to a small community, and Tagbilaran, the Philippines, to document a free dental hygiene mission. Realizing at an early age that his talent could help tell other people’s stories, the 17-year-old photographer and videographer and President of the Interact Club at Hugh Boyd Secondary in Richmond, has generated a tremendous volume of work closer to home as well. One of Kyle’s photos was voted among the top 50 youth environmental photos in the world, another has appeared in The Rotarian magazine, and photos winning “Gold” at the Photographers Association of Canada BC Region “PHOTOgraphie” competition. Kyle hopes to continue his work in Rotary after his high school career, and one day, become a Rotarian.

Kerry & Ginny Dennehy’s journey from grief to leaders in mental health education & research
The Dennehy’s world turned upside down when her 17-year-old son Kelty committed depression-related suicide. Eight years later, her 23 year-old daughter Riley died of a heart attack in Thailand. Using her grief as an anchor to help others, Ginny and Kerry co-founded The Kelty Patrick Dennehy Foundation in 2001, to maintain her children’s legacy and to support mental health resources across Canada. Through the foundation they have raised more than $7 million, funding care, research and education initiatives aimed at reducing the stigma of mental illness, and providing support for young people with depression. The Dennehy’s candid and passionate portrayal of her family’s journey and her appeal for support of mental health initiatives in Canada, continues to touch the hearts and minds of individuals throughout the country and change the landscape of mental health. Ginny and Kerry have been recipients of many awards and live in Whistler, BC. 


Matt Balcarras -- How Service Above Self benefits your own health

Learning, decision making and attention. How does the brain work when it comes to these processes? This the focus of research by Dr. Matt Balcarras who will share his layman’s view of this interesting perspective on how we think. In our commitment to Service Above Self, then, how does our health, as Rotarians, benefit? Dr. Balcarras is chief scientist at a Vancouver health tech start-up where he is trying to build a system that helps people make difficult medical decisions. He holds a PhD in neuroscience from York University (Toronto) and a MSc in philosophy from the University of Edinburgh. He lives in Delta with his partner Deanna, and their three kids.


Roy Prevost -- motivational presentation on Being a Humanitarian
Roy Prevost, President of the Royal City Rotary Club in New Westminster, will tell a Rotary story and touch on the assets and the liabilities of all five generations: the matures, the boomers, the Xers, the Y generation as well as the upcoming Z gen. In an amusing expose, Roy will give you insights into the psyche of each generation which will help Rotarians continue to work effectively as teams in doing good in the world. Roy presents workshops and seminars on leadership, management and customer service, he is also an accomplished key note speaker as well as a lecturer in the cruise industry.  He is a “customer service activist,” helping businesses compete in a hyper-competitive world through relationship building and going the extra mile with customers. Described as a blend of comedian, story teller, therapist and teacher Roy developed his approach over more than 25 years of experience in all facets of marketing, wholesale, retail, and manufacturing in the gift ware industry. Roy is author of the book, Turbocharge Your Retail Business: How to Outmaneuver and Outperform the Big Guys.  


Tom Hierck – Master of Ceremonies
Master of Ceremonies, Tom Hierck, of the Rotary Club of Gibsons, is a compelling presenter who, as an educator since 1983, has presented to schools and districts across North America and around the world with a message of celebration for those seeking to make a difference in the lives of students. His dynamic presentations explore the importance of positive learning environments and in creating purpose-driven organizations. His belief that “every youth is a success story waiting to be told” has led him to work in creating positive school cultures and building effective relationships that facilitate learning for all. Tom’s career has spanned all grade levels and many roles in public education, including teacher, principal, assistant superintendent, Ministry of Education Project Leader, and Executive Director. He has written 15 books and two more are scheduled for publication this year. For more information: He is an avid marathon competitor and with his wife, Ingrid, a fellow Rotarian, has three children and six grandchildren.


Kevin Evans  -- panel discussion moderator: four generations and what Rotary offers them
TV news anchor for CBC British Columbia in the 1990s, Kevin Evans has gone from broadcast journalist to association executive to CEO. President of the Rotary Club of North Vancouver, Kevin will moderate the dialogue of what “Service above Self” means to four generations and how those generations see their role in making a difference – from the Generation X, Millennials, Baby Boomers, to the Greatest Generation. The common element of Kevin Evans career has been communication, specifically creating “Conversations That Matter.” Kevin has continued to apply his communications skills to government relations as a senior executive with a national trade association. In 2007 he became Chief Executive Officer of the Industry Training Authority, a provincial crown corporation responsible for BC’s apprenticeship system. More recently he served as CEO of the Physiotherapy Association of BC, retiring from that position at the end of last year. He also serves his community on the North Vancouver Museum and Archives Commission.

Shirley-Pat Chamberlain – Breakout Session: Inspiration of the upcoming Generation
Energetic, passionate literacy advocate Shirley-Pat Chamberlain shares her Rotary story in the hope that it will encourage others to join, show up and do good with like-minded people as Rotarians. Her Rotary story is one of truth telling, discovery, mentorship and adventure. Shirley-Pat has been committed to social action literacy and community development in rural and remote British Columbia in both indigenous and non-indigenous communities. At 15, she wrote about Rotary’s 4-Way Test in an essay competition and has reconnected with Rotary through her Rotarian mother. She has applied the Rotary International Project model in her work with indigenous people and communities through the Write2Read project ( Dubbed the ‘original champion sparkplug’ by former Lieutenant Governor Hon. Steven Point, she has been formally adopted by Tl’esqox, the Toosey Indian Band, and has received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Award in 2012 for outstanding volunteerism. Shirley-Pat has an undergraduate degree in history, classical languages and literature, a Master of Education degree in leadership studies and is currently pursuing a doctorate at the University of Edinburgh’s Centre for Canadian Studies. 

Gabor Gasztonyi
Award-winning professional photographer and author, Gabor Gasztonyi, is a polio survivor who has taken a keen interest in working with children who have recently contracted polio. A member of the Rotary Club of New Westminster, he  chaired the Lower Mainland’s 2016 Polio Walk and he is now working on a global grant to provide physiotherapy services for children with polio at two Ethiopian rehabilitation hospitals. Last year Gabor won the Rotary International photographic contest in two categories about children in Ethiopia. He aims to develop these photographs into an international series, “The Last Polio Children”.  He and his wife, artist Judith Copland, operate a photographic studio and art gallery in New Westminster.  They live part of the year in Budapest Hungary, where he was born.  His book “A Room in the City” published by Anvil Press in 2010 is a photographic journey in the hotel rooms of the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver. Gabor has had exhibits of his photographic work in Canada and Europe.