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SPEAKERS

Barbara Bartle, Rotary District 5650 Governor 2022-2023

Barbara recently retired as president of the Lincoln Community Foundation after serving for twelve years.  She has nearly 50 years of experience in fundraising, program development, public engagement, and teaching. Prior to coming to the Lincoln Community Foundation, Barbara was president of the Foundation for Lincoln Public Schools for 18 years.  

She currently is on the Chancellor’s Board of Counselors for the University of Nebraska Medical Center, the Lied Center for Performing Arts Statewide Advisory Board and has served on numerous non-profit boards in Lincoln.

Barbara was a College Board education ambassador to China.  She is recipient of the Spirit of United Way award, named Woman of the Year for the Lincoln Journal Star Inspire Award and inducted into the Hall of Fame for the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Nebraska Chapter.

She is past president of Lincoln Rotary Club 14 and Lincoln Rotary 14 Foundation.   Barbara was selected to be Team Leader for Rotary International Group Study Exchange to India.

Barb is a multiple Paul Harris Fellow and currently a member of the Paul Harris Society of The Rotary International Foundation.

Her favorite time is spent with husband, Bob, and their three children and families—just ask her about her seven grandchildren.

Commander (Ret) the Reverend Canon Carol Bateman

Carol was born in New Brunswick where she grew up and attended the University of New Brunswick earning a Bachelor in Kinesiology followed by a year at St Thomas University earning her Education degree. Marrying Murray in 1988 they moved to Alliston Ontario and started a family and teaching career.  

Three children later, she began her studies of a Masters in Theology at Wycliffe College and was ordained in the Anglican Church in 2002. In 2004 both Carol and Murray joined the Canadian Forces as Military Chaplains. In the CAF, Carol was posted to Kingston, Petawawa, Ottawa, Montreal, Borden, and Toronto.

In 2007 Carol deployed to Cyprus for 16 weeks to work with soldiers returning from Afghanistan. After her own seven-month deployment to Afghanistan in 2010, Carol was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Massive Depression Disorder. The work must go on, so with medication, therapy, and stubbornness, Carol continued to work, being promoted twice, until 2018 when she was Medically Released from the CAF.

Carol has been a Rotarian since 2011 with several different Clubs and currently serves as the President of the Wasaga Beach Club. Now a retired grandmother, Carol enjoys being on the water, being a part of the Tequila Mockingbird band, volunteering with the Trillium Foundation and travelling. She continues her Priestly work, filling in with churches in the area, in Nova Scotia and Schull, Ireland.

James Vukelich Kaagegaabaw

James Vukelich Kaagegaabaw, a descendent of Turtle Mountain,  is an international  speaker, author of  ‘The Seven Generations & the Seven Grandfather Teachings’ & the creator of Ojibwe Word of the Day.

He is passionate about inspiring people to live the good life by sharing ancient wisdom to influence modern solutions through an indigenous perspective.    

James is recognized as a leading voice on the interconnectedness of language & culture. His keen insights were developed through speaking with and recording elders and native language speakers  (many of whom have since passed on) in Canada, Michigan and Minnesota as part of the Ojibwe Language Dictionary Project.

​For over twenty years, James has moved seamlessly through diverse settings locally and internationally.  In addition to keynote speeches for academic, philanthropic, business and community organizations, he facilitates local community roundtable groups.  He has consulted with school districts, colleges, historical societies and government agencies to develop and teach language and cultural programs. He has also been featured on numerous podcasts, radio & television programs in an addition to publications.

When he is not speaking, writing, teaching or traveling, James enjoys spending time with his wife and son in the Twin Cities, MN. Website.

Suzanne F Stevens

Suzanne F. Stevens is the unstoppable force behind YouMeWe Social Impact Group Inc. Since 2000, Suzanne has been invigorating audiences on five continents, catalyzing a ripple effect in conscious leadership practices, value-aligned business development, and social impact strategies.

She’s not just a speaker; she’s a globetrotter who’s lived and traveled to over 60 countries, empowering entrepreneurs, seeking adventure, and amplifying Conscious Leaders’ voices.

In her mid-40s, Suzanne and her husband sold their everything they owned and self-funded a two-year journey backpacking through Africa to amplify the voices of Conscious Leaders in 19 countries for the YouMeWe Amplified Podcast. Now, she has conversations with Conscious Leaders internationally who are transforming where we live and work with sustainable social solutions. 

Suzanne, a Certified Speaking Professional (CSP), commands the stage with a captivating blend of passion, wisdom, and charisma. Her evolution from the ‘me’ economy to a ‘WE’ culture is brought to life through relatable anecdotes, profound insights, and authentic breakthroughs.

Read the full bio here.

Jillian Morris

Jillian Morris is a poet, a columnist, facilitator, and volunteer. She is currently fulfilling a 2-year term as Collingwood’s third Poet Laureate. She creates works that focus on redressing history, reclaiming culture, and sharing stories.

Jillian is Kanien’kehaka and a band member of Six Nations. She has a degree in Public Administration & Indigenous Governance from Toronto Metropolitan University in partnership with First Nations Technical Institute. After 13 years with the federal public service, Jillian found rewarding change in freelance writing and supporting the non-profit sector.

Jillian works as a relationship builder alongside various community partners, leaders, and organizations including the Town of Collingwood, Simcoe County District School Board, and Elephant Thoughts. She is a founding member of the Collingwood Unity Collective and a teacher with Feather Carriers: Leadership for Life Promotion, an Indigenous led initiative based in cultural teachings.

Valarie K. Wafer Rotary International Director 2020-22 Rotary International Vice President 2022

Valarie Wafer joined Rotary in 2005 in order to fuel her passion for making an impact that matters. Valarie was District Governor of RI district 7070 covering the Greater Toronto Area in 2013/14. Now residing in Burlington, her home club is the Rotary club of Burlington Lakeshore, RI district 7080.

Valarie has served Rotary in a number of international roles. She is an International Trainer, a member of the Host Organizing Convention Committee Toronto 2018, representative of the Rotary International President, a past RI Director – appointed Vice President in the year 2022.  Currently serving as the International Assembly Moderator for the years 2023 and 2024.

During Valarie’s tenure as a Rotarian she has participated and led many initiatives including a mission to Kosovo with Gift of Life International. She has also served as the Vocational Training Team leader to Australia in 2010 focusing on youth mental health, a National Immunization Day in India in 2012, and has travelled to Kenya and Tanzania to audit long-term Rotary Foundation grant activity.

In her non-Rotary life, Valarie had a 27-year career as a restaurant owner in Toronto. The brand, Tim Hortons, is the most recognized and iconic franchise in Canada. The Wafer’s operation was best known for its inclusive hiring practices and accessibility, especially in the area of employment.

As the chair of the Rotary International Global DEI Task Force, Valarie brings a strong background of learned and lived experience to this important topic

Valarie, and her husband of 36 years, Mark are Paul Harris Fellows, Bequest Society members and Major Donors to The Rotary Foundation.

Mike Giffen

Michael and his wife Kim live on a Giffen Family Farm in Glen Huron where they raised their three sons, William, Lucas and Jack.  Upon his retirement from the Simcoe County District School Board, Michael returned to his roots to work at his family’s business, Giffen’s Country Market. 

For almost 30 years, Michael’s career in public education included classroom teacher, special education resource teacher, vice-principal, principal and supervisory officer.  As a superintendent, Michael was responsible for elementary and secondary schools in the Collingwood, Clearview Township, Essa Township and Wasaga Beach area within the district.  As a member of the senior leadership team, Michael’s work included the mental health and well-being portfolio, as well as outdoor education, before and after school child care and liaison with the  Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit.  For 23 years, Michael worked as a part-time announcer with 95.1 The PEAK-FM in Collingwood, and  thoroughly enjoyed the experiences provided to him through his work in local radio. 

Community, connection and collaboration are very meaningful to Michael and he has learned and continues to learn through his experiences working with and supporting others.  To  Michael, it is all about  people and human connection.  Michael has supported Rotary since his wife Kim’s induction as a charter member of  the Collingwood – South Georgian Bay Club and is a very proud Paul Harris Fellow.  In June, Michael was inducted into  the club as one of its newest members.  As a Rotarian, Michael looks  forward to service above self and living his legacy with his Rotary family.       

Mark Wafer

Mark Wafer is the former President and CEO of Abilities Canada, a fully inclusive sports complex and inclusion incubator.  Until recently he was the owner of 14 successful Tim Hortons Restaurants in Toronto. 

Mark is an internationally recognized expert on the economics of inclusion. He is an advisor to both the Government of Canada and the Government of Ontario, he is responsible for Canada’s national disability employment strategy as well as the reform of basic income for Canada’s disabled. He is also an Honorary Canadian Citizenship officiant. 

Mark and his wife Valarie are best known for their restaurant hiring practices with almost 250 workers with disabilities employed over 25 years. 

Today Mark spends much of his time on International Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiatives. He is a member of the Rotary Club of Burlington North and the co-founder of Rotary at Work, a successful vocational initiative for Canada’s disabled workers. Mark is the chair of the Board of Directors at Canadian Hearing Services.

Mark has received many awards and recognition for his work most notably from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. He was inducted into the Canadian Disability Hall of Fame in 2014. 

A prolific connector of people, Mark has raised over $100 Million in the disability and broader non-profit sector. 

He is also a race car driver and a 2008 Canadian historic sports car champion.

Stephanie Christensen

Stephanie Christensen is the Executive Director of ShelterBox Canada and a humanitarian professional. Stephanie started her career in International Development working for CIDA and local charities throughout East Africa developing curriculum for HIV/AIDS Education in primary schools. After living and working  in Kenya during the famine in 2011, Stephanie moved into the humanitarian disaster relief field. She has been with ShelterBox Canada for nine years and is working to ensure that no one is left without shelter and supplies after disasters. In addition to her work here in Canada,

Stephanie has been on four deployments with ShelterBox: to Fiji after Cyclone Winston, to Ecuador after the Earthquake in 2016, to the Philippines after Tropical Storm Urduja and most recently to Moldova as part of our Ukraine crisis response. She currently lives in Burlington, ON with her husband and daughter, and loves to cook, read, and travel.

Jenn Rae

Jenn Rae is the Town of Collingwood’s Housing Development Coordinator, working on the affordable housing crisis. She is a passionate advocate for community and social development with 15 years of experience in community building, engagement, fundraising, granting and communications. She brings experience from the Town of Innisfil, Innisfil Community Foundation, North York General Foundation and Southlake Regional Health Centre Foundation.

Jenn is a Certified Fundraising Executive who enjoys connecting the dots to help people and organizations work toward common goals.