As one of Rotary's core values, diversity is one of our great strengths. We should be proud that Rotary reflects so many cultures, generations, and lived experiences and offers leaders the opportunities to use those experiences to make a difference.
As a sign of our commitment to creating an organization that sets the standard for valuing and living the principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), the Rotary International Board appointed the DEI Advisory Council in 2020. It guides and provides recommendations and counsel to our senior leadership about what Rotary can do to create a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive culture.
We tapped into the expertise of Rotary participants around the globe to serve on this council. They are responsible for developing and implementing a long-term, comprehensive plan with achievable, measurable, and meaningful outcomes for Rotary. And as key decisions are made and we make progress towards implementing our plan, we will continue to share information with you at rotary.org/DEI.
Rotary's Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Advisory Council
Valarie Wafer (Chair)
RI Director and Rotarian
Valarie K. Wafer had a 27-year career as a Tim Hortons restaurant owner, one of Canada's iconic restaurant brands, where her restaurant operations were widely recognized for their inclusive hiring practices, particularly the employment of people with disabilities.
Valarie joined Rotary in 2005. She has served as an RI trainer, 2018 Toronto Convention Host Organization Committee member, assistant regional Rotary Foundation coordinator, and RI president's representative. She has led a vocational training team focused on youth suicide and depression, audited Rotary Foundation grant projects in Tanzania and Kenya, and volunteered during a 2012 National Immunization Day in India.
Valarie and her husband, Mark — who became a Rotarian after Valarie recruited him during her year as club president — are Paul Harris Fellows, Bequest Society members, and Major Donors to The Rotary Foundation. In 2012, Wafer received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, in recognition of her leadership with the Economic Case for Inclusion in Canada, an inclusive hiring initiative that was adopted by provincial and federal governments.
Brian Rusch (Vice Chair)
Brian has managed organizations for Nobel laureates Archbishop Desmond Tutu and the Dalai Lama, taking the knowledge they have imparted to him to create programs to inspire youth on their own explorations of ethics and reshape conversations on peace, equality, and forgiveness.
He currently strategizes with nonprofits, governments, corporations, and celebrities to help optimize their platforms to be change makers for good. He currently serves as a strategic advisor on projects with Indian Nobel Peace laureate Kailash Satayarthi and sits on the board of Leymah Gbowee's U.S. organization. A passionate advocate for human rights, Brian regularly delivers keynote addresses and speaks on panels about peace, economic, equality, modern slavery, and LGBTQIA+ issues.
Brian was a Rotary Youth Exchange Student to Brazil and became a Rotarian in his 20s when he joined the Rotary Club of Hollywood, California. He helped create the Rotary Club of San Francisco - Castro, Rotary's first LGBT-cultured club. He is also the past president of the Rotary Club for Global Action, an e-club based in District 5150 with membership from 22 countries around the world, including some countries where Rotary is not currently allowed to establish an in-country presence.
Geeta Manek (Trustee Liaison)
Rotary Foundation Trustee
Geeta Manek is a second-generation Kenyan. She graduated from business school in the United Kingdom before returning to Nairobi to join the family retail and property management business, which she still runs.
Geeta joined Rotary in 1997. Her roles have included Rotary coordinator, chair of the Health Major Gifts Initiative and of the Joint Committee on Partnerships, member of the Major Gifts Initiative Oversight Team and the Rotary Institute Host Organizing Committee, RI training leader, lead facilitator at the Regional Leaders Training Institute, and RI president's representative. She was the only female governor of District 9200 before it was divided into Districts 9211 and 9212 in 2012-13. She also served as her district's coordinator for the Kick Polio Out of Africa Campaign.
Geeta is passionate about initiatives that help women and improve education. She was a charter member of Lohana Ladies Circle, a women's club dedicated to community service, social welfare, and cultural heritage. She's also helping lead a Rotary literacy initiative in Kenya and the region. She has volunteered as a first responder during national crises, including in post-election violence after terrorist attacks. She has led teams of Rotarians to collaborate and coordinate initiatives with organizations such as the Red Cross, the United Nations, and community-based institutions. In recognition of her humanitarian work, Geeta was awarded an honorary doctorate of humanities in 2019.
Geeta has been honored with the Service Above Self Award. She and her spouse, Kaushik — who served as governor of District 9200 in 2008-09 — are Rotary Foundation Major Donors and Benefactors, as well as Bequest Society and Arch Klumph Society members.
Patrick Daniel Chisanga (member)
Patrick Daniel Chisanga, a chartered governance professional, is a fellow of the Chartered Governance Institute (UK) from the London School of Accountancy and a fellow of the Institute of Directors of Zambia. He has advised the World Bank on corporate governance and has served as president of the Institute of Directors of Zambia and the African Corporate Governance Network.
Working for nearly 20 years in the public and corporate sectors of Zambia, Patrick served as chief executive officer and chair of numerous companies and organizations before taking early retirement in 1994 to focus on running a family-owned group of companies, Muchanga Investments Ltd., which he founded in 1987 and serves as chair. He is also the chair and lead consultant of Dynamic Concepts Ltd., a consulting firm dedicated to corporate governance and leadership development across Africa and serves on the boards of several other local and international companies.
Patrick first joined the family of Rotary as a member of Interact. As a high school student in 1968, he was selected to go on a short-term interclub exchange to Kenya, where he stayed with the then district governor in Mombasa. "I was so impressed with this man's dedication to humankind that I decided there and then that I would serve as a district governor in Rotary one day," Patrick says.
In 1986, he became a charter member of the Rotary Club of Nkwazi. In 1998, he realized his goal of becoming governor of District 9210. He was the first nonwhite person to hold that position. "It was a turning point for me and my district," he says.
As governor, Patrick focused on supporting communities in need in his district with projects dedicated to health, hygiene, and clean water, and to building safe bridges in rural areas. Later, while serving as an RI president's representative at a district event in Bremerhaven, Germany, he used his networking skills to help start a project to improve infrastructure in Zambian schools that later received several Rotary Foundation grants. The project is still ongoing.
Patrick has served Rotary International on several committees, including the Membership Committee and the Reach Out to Africa Committee, and as a training leader and Rotary Institute chair. He has also chaired regional Rotary organizations, including the Governors' Council of Southern and Eastern Africa.
Patrick has received the Service Above Service Award and The Rotary Foundation Citation for Meritorious Service. He and his partner, Petronella, are Major Donors.
Ariana Andrews (member)
Rotarian and Rotaractor
Ariana Andrews is passionate about eliminating inequities and supporting Indigenous health and well-being. While studying medicine at the University of Auckland, she learned about the structural factors shaping differential health outcomes. Ariana is now studying towards a Master of Public Health to strengthen her understanding of how to disrupt systems and structures that perpetuate inequity.
Ariana was introduced to Rotary in 2011 when she was awarded a scholarship by the Newmarket Rotary Club. She is now a member of that club, as well as the Auckland City Rotaract Club, and the Rotaract Oceania MDIO. Ariana has been actively involved in committees at club, district, and zone levels to promote equity and leadership development within Rotary and Rotaract. She also acted as a secondary school liaison for District 9920, where she worked to increase Māori and Pasifika involvement in Rotary youth programs.
Born and raised in Auckland, Ariana is of Māori (Te Whakatōhea, Waikato) and African American descent. She has been a recipient of a Prime Minister’s Scholarship for Latin America and spent time volunteering with the Peace Corps in Vanuatu. Ariana is currently a Kindness Collective Board member, a member of the Indigenous Working Group for the World Federation of Public Health Associations, and a Professional Teaching Fellow for Te Kupenga Hauora Māori at the University of Auckland.
Maricler Botelho de Oliveira (member)
Maricler Botelho de Oliveira serves as both the DEI district chair and the district president of the DEI Committee for District 4510. She previously served as assistant governor and is a founding member of the DEI Brazil Committee.
Maricler volunteers with Project Semear Marília, which offers children and adolescents in vulnerable situations opportunities for personal growth; Alimento Sim Fome Não, which helps needy families with economic development projects and offers training and employment opportunities to facilitate access to institutions and companies; and the Association of Parents and Friends of Children with Disabilities (APAE), where she was once director. She also works with Santa Casa de Misericórdia de Marília, where she supports work to prevent and combat childhood and youth cancer and is a counselor at the Municipal Council for People with Disabilities. She has worked with multiple Rotary Action Groups, including the Women in Rotary and the Rotary Action Group for Peace.
In her professional work as a lawyer, Maricler is a member and coordinator of some Commissions of the of the Order of Attorneys of Brazil. She often advocates for women's rights, gender equality, children and adolescents, people with disabilities, the elderly, peace, and promoting inclusion.
Maricler is committed to creating a listening environment that allows members to act authentically and be respected and valued. Rotary members inspired her by making her feel heard and helping her share her ideas – even beyond language barriers.
She looks forward to working with Rotary leaders to raise awareness of the importance of DEI across the organization.
Dr. Todd Jenkins "Dr. Bowtie" (member)
Dr. Todd Jenkins is a senior diversity, inclusion, and innovation leader in corporate America at a Fortune 400 company and is the founder of Bowtie Leadership and Development company. As a global inclusion executive trainer, strategist, speaker, and consultant, Todd has worked with companies including Walmart, Google, Facebook, American Airlines, Deloitte, and Kellogg's, and such sectors as healthcare, government, education, national sports teams, oil and gas companies, small and large non-profits, and with entrepreneurs.
Todd graduated with honors from the University of South Carolina with Bachelor of Science degrees in psychology and sociology. He obtained a Master of Science degree from Illinois State University and a doctorate from the University of Arkansas.
Todd’s research focused on minority professionals, retention, and perception of their supervisor within the workplace. Currently, he is enrolled at Harvard University, completing post-doctorate studies as a Harvard Fellow. Todd also serves as a faculty member for the Executive Institute on Inclusion and is a Diversity Business Journal Review Board member.
Todd is a Paul Harris Fellow from the Rotary Club of Fayetteville, Arkansas, having joined at 23. He served as Rotaract advisor, Interact sponsor, RYLA speaker, Youth Services chair, as for two terms, on Club Board of Directors. He’s a New Generations Service Exchange alumni and graduated from his district and zone Leadership Academy.
Todd is currently one of the youngest Youth Exchange District Chairs in Rotary. He has spoken at various Rotary districts, zones, and international conventions about diversity, equity, inclusion, leadership development, and youth services. He serves on multiple boards locally and internationally in education, business, and inclusion initiatives.
Yuiko Miyasato (member)
Yuiko Miyasato is a CEO, a Rotarian with decades of service, and an advocate for DEI and the inclusion of Rotaractors.
Yuiko is the CEO of Nihon Hoken Eisei Kyoukai Co., Ltd., which specializes in analysis and proposals to improve worksites that handle chemicals and other substances.
As a member of the Rotary Club of Ibaraki West in District 2600, Yuiko served for nearly 20 years as her district’s international ervice chair, Foundation chair, and district secretary. She was also the district’s first female governor.
As part of her vision to make DEI a reality in Rotary in Japan, she ensured that Rotaract clubs could actively engage in Foundation grant funds, which enabled Rotaractors to engage in humanitarian service projects.
She believes a strong organization is built on diversity and sees Rotary’s commitment to DEI as a chance to be recognized worldwide, attract more members, and further our sustainable humanitarian goals. She envisions a Rotary in which members need not hesitate to explore who they are and still feel welcomed.
While DEI is essential for Rotary as a whole, Yuiko knows that DEI might be understood differently in various regions and countries. She believes working with individual districts based on their needs can bring Rotary’s commitment to DEI to new heights.
Yuiko is a major donor, benefactor, Paul Harris Society member, and recipient of the Distinguished Service Award of The Rotary Foundation.
Jeremy Opperman (member)
Jeremy was born with Retinitis Pigmentosa, a deteriorating eye condition which results in total blindness.
After graduating from the University of Cape Town in 1987, Jeremy worked as a marketer of cutting-edge people development and training services and products.
Since starting his own HR marketing consultancy in 1999, he started focusing increasingly on diversity and disability issues and is particularly passionate about the unhesitant and natural integration of people with disabilities into mainstream society.
Jeremy created the Meeting Disability suite of programs and has conducted hundreds of disability awareness workshops for both public and private sector organizations. In addition, he and his associates provided extensive access-auditing and consulting services to major stakeholders.
Jeremy is a committed advocate of centralized disability service facilities within organizations. He believes in promoting a strong culture of disability confidence in all operational functions of a business, including corporate social investment, customer service, sales, marketing, and built and online infrastructure.
In 2015 he was asked to create a unique Disability Desk facility within the Western Cape Provincial Government. This provided, for the first time, a centralized resource for both internal and external stakeholders.
Jeremy speaks, writes, and consults widely on topics including achieving disability confidence in organizations; making a business case for universal access; taking a strategic approach to disability inclusion; and the benefits of a Disability Desk.
Jeremy is involved with several disability institutions and has served on the board of directors for Western Cape Disability network. He currently serves on the board of the South African Guide Dog Association, as well as St. Dunstan’s Institute for War Blinded Veterans. St. Dunstan’s incorporates the Ian Fraser Bursary Fund, which provides bursaries to blind students, and the John & Esther Ellerman Memorial Trust, which provides funding for orientation and mobility instructors.
Jeremy joined Rotary in 2020. He is a member of Rotary Club Newlands in Cape Town South Africa District 9350 and is currently the chair for the vocational portfolio in his club.
Jeremy lives in Cape Town with his wife, Jackie, and his third guide dog, Ronnie.
Ugo Nichetti (member)
Ugo is a member of the Inclusion Team of Snam Spa, where he is a senior counsel in the Legal Affairs department. Ugo graduated from the Faculty of Law of the University of Milan and is a member of the Milan Bar Association. He served as a non-commissioned officer of the Cavalry Army for one year, as a member of an Italian municipal council for 12 years, as president of a voluntary association registered in the official list of the Province of Cremona and the Lombardy Region for nine years.
He was a founding member of the Rotary Club of Soncino and Orzinuovi and has held Rotary leadership positions at the club and district levels. Ugo has been awarded seven Paul Harris Fellows. He was the District 2050 (North Italy) governor in 2020-21.