Former Victoria School principal now leading huge Rotary district
by Nick Lees, Edmonton Journal (CLICK HERE FOR THE ONLINE STORY)

Former Victoria School of the Arts principal, Ingrid Neitsch, will be governor in 2018-19 of a Rotary International district covering parts of Alberta, Saskatchewan, B.C. and the Northwest Territories.

Ingrid Neitsch, Rotary International District 5370 governor for 2018-2019, was at a Rotary fundraiser held at the Chateau Lacombe. Her district covers northern Alberta, parts of both Saskatchewan and B.C. and parts of the Northwest Territories. She believes Rotarians are too modest and are the unsung heroes of the community. She plans to champion peace and resolution during her term. 


Neitsch says her plan is to make a colourful tapestry of her life’s experiences and next year especially will give her a chance to add some golden hues.

She has been appointed 2018-2019 governor of the huge Rotary International District 5370, and friends say her life’s path to date has shown she will be a great catalyst for change.

“I believe Rotarians have been too modest,” said Neitsch, the mother of two, a son who is the president of an Edmonton machine company, and a daughter, the vice-president of a Houston marketing firm.

“Rotarians are the unsung heroes in the community. They are involved in amazing projects around the world that have changed lives.

“In many places, they have brought disaster relief, better health care, more educational opportunities and economic benefits, and almost eradicated polio (99.9 per cent). And yet many citizens are unaware of Rotary.”

If you belong to a Rotary club in Neitsch’s vast district — it covers northern Alberta and parts of Saskatchewan, B.C., and the Northwest Territories — be aware Neitsch would like to see you working for peace and conflict resolution.

“Peace and conflict resolution resonate deeply with me and I intend to champion this area during my year as governor,” she said.

“With the unrest and turmoil swirling in parts of the world, I believe that Rotarians are needed more than ever before. Rotary projects cross all borders and promote peace.

“There are 1.2 million Rotarians in 35,000 clubs in more than 200 countries who are committed to taking action and creating lasting change in their communities.”

Neitsch was born in Germany, came to Canada with her parents as a child and says teaching Sunday school helped her master the English language and customs.

She graduated with an M. Ed. from the University of Alberta and worked for 25 years in the Edmonton Public School system, including serving as principal at the Victoria School of Performing and Visual Arts.

Ross Sheppard High School principal Jennifer Lawley sponsored Neitsch when she joined the Rotary Club of Edmonton West in 2006, a club where she was president in 2014-15 during its 60th anniversary celebrations.

“I had researched several volunteer organizations before I chose Rotary as my main volunteer focus,” she says.

“I was intrigued by the dedication and commitment of club members in volunteering their time and talents to help others in their community.”

Becoming district governor was not on her radar. But Rotarians she admired approached her to stand for the position.

“I believe that events come onto one’s life path for a reason, especially if unexpected, and deserve to be considered,” she said.

As a Rotarian, Neitsch has done everything from travelling to South America to helping with a school project to taking part in the Jimmy Carter Habitat for Humanity project.

Among the many other things she has enjoyed are sponsoring an inner-city class to attend the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra for a kids’ concert and serving meals at the Hope Mission.

If you can’t reach Neitsch by phone, she is probably running, cycling, dancing, meditating or watching hockey. But more probably she’ll be working on a Rotary project — or promoting Rotary membership.