Our District Conference Speakers

Don Mebus | Rotary Club of Arlington, Texas

Rotary International President’s Representative, Past Rotary International Director, District 5790

Don has served in a number of capacities since his Dad and Grandfather brought him into the Rotary Club of Arlington in 1974.  He has sponsored 29 members to his club.  Following club, district, zone offices, he was honored to be elected to serve as a member of the Rotary International Board of Directors for the term 2006-08.

He has completed terms as the Chair of the Council on Legislation Review ad hoc committee for RI, a member of the RI Operations Review Committee and as Endowment/Major Gift Adviser for Zone 21b.  He and Carolyn were absolutely delighted to serve as the 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 and members of the Arch Klumph Society.  Don has received the Service above Self Award as a result of his participation in a clean water project in the State of Gracias a Dios, Honduras.  He continues to support the project there under direction of project manager, Scott Hendricks.  He also has been involved in an international relief committee, Nepal Earthquake Relief Initiative and has participated in site visits and meeting with the Rotarians in Nepal.  A few years ago, Carolyn and Don participated in a NID in Nepal and Carolyn has also done site visits for a “Children of the Dump” project sponsored by the Houston district.

Outside of Rotary, he and his wife, Carolyn, are retired from ownership of Business Insurance Technologies, stay busy by managing some commercial property that he and his brother own and by keeping up with their family.  They will be celebrating their 58th wedding anniversary in August of 2024.  They have one married daughter, Pat Hoffman and she and her husband, Jared, have a son and daughter.


Jennifer Montgomery| Rotary International Peace Fellow

Founder of Magenta Girls Initiative in Uganda

Jennifer Montgomery is a visual artist, writer and global human rights advocate. She has more than 20 years of professional experience in public policy, program management, strategic communications and facilitation. Jennifer previously served for 10 years as Director of Human Trafficking Education and Outreach for the Kansas Attorney General’s Office and is a subject matter expert on human trafficking and Gender Based Violence with the Attorney General Alliance – Africa Partnership for Justice. She holds a B.A. in Communication Studies from the University of Kansas, an M.A. in Arts Education from the University of Florida and a Postgraduate Diploma in Peacebuilding and Conflict Transformation from Makerere University.

Jennifer is a published author and an engaging public speaker able to distill complex ideas into powerful messages to inspire change. She recently completed a Rotary International Peace Fellowship at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda. Her fellowship initiative focused on transforming conflict-based sexual violence through arts-based inquiry, differentiation and storytelling with at-risk women in an urban informal settlement in Kampala. As a result of this work, she partnered with three Ugandan women to form Magenta Girls Initiative (MGI), an international NGO mobilizing community support for girls’ education and empowerment. MGI designs programs to lift vulnerable women and girls out of generational poverty through psychosocial support, education and skills training and innovative collaborations to foster sustainable livelihoods. As a survivor of sexual violence, Jennifer is deeply committed to helping others transform trauma into avenues for peace and reconciliation in communities across the globe.


Michelle Skedgell| Rotary Club of Hastings, Michigan

District 6360 Environmental Chair, Director of Pierce Cedar Creek Environmental Institute, Edison Neighborhood Urban Garden Fruit Tree Project Team Co-Leader

Michelle joined the Hastings Rotary Club in 2001, has served as Club President and on various committees through her tenure, and now serves as the 6360 District Environmental Team leader. She is currently the director of Pierce Cedar Creek Institute, an 850-acre nature center in Barry County, MI.

Frank Mumford, NAMI Director (National Association on Mental Illness)

National Board of Director’s Member of NAMI, National Alliance on Mental Illness and Board President of NAMI, Southwest Michigan.

Frank is the Executive Director of “Sir Home Cares”, a non-profit supporting veterans, climate improvement and mental health initiatives. He is married with 6 children and President of Sir Home Improvement, a 43-year-old remodeling company, that he started operating in SW Michigan and Northern Indiana with over 100 employees.

Frank’s lived experience with mental health started in 2014 with a phone call from the Indian Embassy in Kolkata, “your daughter is here and she is psychotic.” After nearly a week of being lost then found on numerous occasions, he walked into an Indian hospital where his daughter laid battered and almost unrecognizable from 5 days of “mental health hell” and a failed suicide attempt. She told him that her symptoms had started 16 years earlier at age 14! Stigma had prevented her from talking to anybody to seek help. Enduring six psychotic breaks and numerous hospitalizations over the last nine years, she is now stable, living on her own, has blessed him with a grandson and has been hired back by the same Seattle-based insurance company she left in 2012. “I never gave up on her, and never will. She is my mental health miracle!”

Frank earned his bachelor’s degree in business and marketing from Western Michigan University.


Jacquie Blackwell | Rotary Club of Lakeshore

Mental Health Initiative Chair


More information coming soon!


Cathy Knauf |Rotary Club of Gull Lake Area

Mental Health Initiative Committee

Cathleen Knauf, of Richland, is a retired special education coordinator from Bridgman Public Schools and holds endorsements in mental and emotional impairment, and pre-primary special education.  She earned a bachelor’s degree in group social studies and psychology from Grand Valley State University, and a master’s degree in pre-primary special education & her learning disabilities certification from Western Michigan University. Previously, she also owned a private preschool for several years while teaching full time at St. Joseph Public Schools.  She was a founding member of the Lakeshore Excellence Foundation and established the summer rec program for St. Joseph Charter Township as well as being on the township parks board for 10 years. More recently she served on the Ross Township Parks Committee.  Additionally, Knauf served as a McKinney-Vento Homeless Liaison and was also a Key Volunteer Liaison for Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 24th Marines. She is an original member of the Michigan Human Trafficking Task Force and was the founder of the SW Michigan Human Trafficking Task Force serving Berrien, Cass and Van Buren Counties. Knauf was also a long time commissioner on the Michigan Women’s Commission, which was part of the Dept. of Civil Rights. Currently, she is an active member of the Gull Lake Rotary Club. Her favorite title of all though, is Grandma.



Kristen Chesak |Rotary Club of Kalamazoo

Executive Director of the Arts Council of Greater Kalamazoo



Kevin Tafil | Rotaract Club of Kalamazoo

Rotaract Club Vice President

My name is Kevin Tafil and I am the Vice President for the Kalamazoo Rotaract Club. I was born and raised in Plainwell, Michigan and went to college at Kalamazoo Valley Community College and Western Michigan University. While going to school, I got a promotion at Target to become a manager which I have been for the last 3 years. I always loved helping people and found out about Rotaract several months ago where I discovered somewhere to meet other young people and help out our community.


Margie Haas | Rotary Club of Hastings

Youth Services Chair


More information coming soon!


Louisa Horne | Innovative Club Advocate Lead for Rotary Zone 28

Louisa Horne is a past District Governor in Rotary District 7820 and is now Innovative Club Advocate Lead for Rotary Zone 28.

She is an entrepreneur, business leader and doctoral scholar who has creative approaches to leadership and is always looking for opportunities to increase the impact – and irresistibility – of Rotary.

A former geologist and teacher, Louisa has been an independent Management Consultant specializing in leadership development, and she is a Strategic Doing Practitioner. She is also a certified corporate director and certified business coach. She recently founded a Community Interest Company focused on supporting seniors as they experience transitions in life.

A member of the Rotary Club of Halifax Harbour since 2005, Louisa was inspired to join when her daughter was a Youth Exchange student. Louisa served as District Trainer, and received a District Vocational Award, Rotarian of the Year Award, and her District’s “Heart of the District Award.” A multiple Paul Harris Fellow, Louisa led the district’s Group Study Exchange team to Malaysia, and a Rotary Friendship Exchange to New Zealand.

She was a Rotary International (RI) President’s representative, has facilitated workshops at RI Conventions, and has spoken at other Rotary events.


Gay Walker | IArt Therapist and Artist

The Bridge to Understanding Through Art

Gay Walker is an artist and art therapist who focuses on using art therapy with people who have illness, including Hospice patients and their families dealing with grief and loss, children and adults with cancer, people with Alzheimer’s Disease, and people with disabilities.

Her methods do not require any talent, background, or special ability. She teaches simple techniques to help people gain insight and discover a way to navigate life’s challenges.

As a professor and coordinator for Holistic Health and Wellness at Western Michigan University (WMU), she taught classes in expressive arts, healing through visual art, illness and end of life, and holistic methods.

Gay taught a variety of “Art as Therapy” classes at Kalamazoo Institute of Art and curated several “Art of Healing” exhibits and galleries at WMU and People’s Church. 

Engaging in her own art therapy has helped her navigate her own cancers, stress, and family deaths.

Currently, Gay is offering expressive art therapy programs and new exhibits at the new Bronson Cancer Center.



Lucinda M. Stinson | Rotary Club of Kalamazoo

Operation Lending Hands and Western Michigan University Instructor

Lucinda Stinson is a lifelong resident of Kalamazoo County. Her parents were the first African-American owners of a grocery store that served the Northside community for over 30 years.

Lucinda, a member of the Rotary Club of Kalamazoo, is a graduate of Kalamazoo Valley Community College (KVCC), where she earned as Associate’s Degree in Applied Sciences, and graduated as Registered Respiratory Therapist.

She was a Respiratory Therapist at Bronson Healthcare and Borgess Hospital, and was elevated to senior leadership positions during her tenure at Borgess, becoming the first non-nursing director of a nursing unit.

Lucinda is a graduate of Western Michigan University (WMU), where she earned a Master’s Degree in Public Administration, and completed all course work for a Doctorate in Public Administration. She is a part-time instructor at WMU. 

Lucinda serves on several community boards, and is current Chair of the KVCC Board of Trustees. She is also Chief Executive Officer of Lending Hands of Kalamazoo. 

Lucinda is a member of Mt. Zion Baptist Church. She is the proud mother of Lucretia, a professional flautist.

Paula DeJongh | Rotary Club of Union City

All Things Serenity Yoga Studio owner and teacher

Paula DeJongh is owner of a yoga studio in Union City, Michigan. Following a career change, Paula taught yoga in various locations in and around her hometown. As her student base grew, she needed a studio. She purchased the historic Gaw Center, and All Things Serenity Yoga & Event Center was born.

Paula has medical and yoga training, including Yoga Therapy Healthcare Assessments and Plans, Thai BodyWork,, Reiki Sessions and Athletic Assessments and Plans.Her yoga outreach in schools involves athletics, choir, drama, special needs, elementary ed and Interact Modern Yoga, of which she is the advisor. She has taught in assisted living centers, yoga studios and athletic clubs.

Paula is a member of the Rotary Club of Union City, and is a Paul Harris Fellow. She was named Union City Citizen of the Year, and received the High School Shield of Honor for school service.She is a member of the Chamber of Commerce, the Society for Historic Preservation, the Community Schools Board of Education, the Yoga Alliance, and the International Association of Yoga Therapists.


Register Now!

Deadline is April 19