Posted by LBS on Nov 14, 2019
In 2009, DG Suzanne Gibson travelled to Sumpango, Guatemala on a church service trip.  While there she visited a community that was plagued by water borne illness.  She was deeply impacted by this, and asked herself what she, a social worker from Barrington could do to solve the problem.  When she returned, her Rotary Club asked her to chair their  International committee, and she knew right away what she wanted to tackle.  She began to form and leverage connections: with a doctor in Sumpango to do a community assessment, with local Rotary clubs to raise funds, with RI to obtain matching funds, and back to the community in Sumpango to plan implementation.  
Her initial project supplied water filters for 200 families.  In addition to providing clean water, it enabled girls who previously spent their days collecting twigs to boil water to return to school. 
Since then, DG Suzanne’s passion for international service and the power of connection through Rotary has continued to grow and thrive.   In her year as governor, she has focused on trying to strengthen the connections between local District 6440 Rotary clubs, starting with “neighborhood” based training for incoming presidents.  This is a message that has started to take hold.  This year clubs in the District have held joint installations, clubs in the tri-city area meet together quarterly and their presidents meet every other month, and the McHenry county clubs have formed a McHenry county consortium to work together on common projects. 
One of the job’s of the District Governor is to help the RI president carry out his strategic plan.   DG Suzanne shared three aspects of that plan with Club members:
  1.  The first goal is to increase our impact.  One way this is being done is leveraging connections, and in particular our long term relationship with the UN.  This year there will be 5 jointly held international peace conferences around the world.
  2. A second goal is to expand our reach.  RI president Mark Maloney is urging clubs to be intentional in having clubs represent the demographics of their communities and sees the Rotary classification system as a way to identify and fill gaps.
  3. A third goal is to increase the learnings of every Rotary Club.  This is being approached through a collaboration with Toastmasters.  Toastmasters is developing learning modules for Rotaract clubs.  Members are invited to attend Toastmasters meetings. 
Another job of the District Governor is to help and support clubs in the District.  Governor Suzanne explained that for every club committee there is a corresponding District committee that is available to provide help, ideas, or support.
In closing,  DG Suzanne asked everyone to save the dates for this year’s District Conference.  It will be jointly held with District 6420 on April 24 and 25 at the Hyatt Regency in Schaumburg.