Jennifer E. Jones of Rotary International & Global Citizen Festival: 5 Steps That Each Of Us Can Take To Proactively Help Heal Our World

An Interview With Savio P. Clemente

Savio P. Clemente
Authority Magazine
Published in
8 min readNov 4, 2022


No one can do it alone. It’s about harnessing the power of connections to open doors to make dreams reality. As we work together to solve challenges at international and local levels, we broaden and deepen our relationships and create new partnerships at all levels of leadership.

I had the pleasure to interview Jennifer E. Jones at the Global Citizen Festival in Central Park, New York City. Global Citizen is the world’s largest movement of action takers and impact makers dedicated to ending extreme poverty NOW. The voices of millions of Global Citizens around the world are driving lasting change towards sustainability, equality, and humanity by taking action every day.

Jennifer E. Jones, a member of the Rotary Club of Windsor-Roseland, Ontario, Canada, has been nominated to become Rotary International’s president for 2022–23, a groundbreaking selection that will make her the first woman to hold that office in the organization’s 115-year history.

Rotary unites a global network of volunteer leaders dedicated to tackling the world’s most pressing humanitarian challenges and creating lasting change. Rotary connects 1.4 million people of action from more than 46,000 Rotary clubs in almost every country in the world. Their service improves lives both locally and internationally, from helping those in need in their own communities to working toward a polio-free world. For more information, visit

The Global Polio Eradication Initiative is a public-private partnership led by national governments with six core partners — Rotary International (a founding partner), the World Health Organization (WHO), the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. Its goal is to eradicate polio worldwide.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you. Can you tell us a bit about how you grew up?

I have a wonderful, loving family and grew up in Windsor, Ontario, Canada. They are so proud and supportive of my Rotary service, and in fact, most of them are Rotary members. As the Rotary year kicked off in July, some of my family members accompanied me on a tour across Canada to bring attention to the projects and programs of our Rotary family. My parents instilled in us the importance of community service, and from the first time I walked into my Rotary club, I knew I had found a home. The qualities of kindness, integrity and decency unite our members — helping us to bring out the best in each other and allowing us to become the best versions of ourselves professionally and personally.

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

I love reading and there is nothing more relaxing to me than to sit with a good book and get lost in a story. Words mean something to me, and how people assemble them to create a narrative is something that I find very intriguing. My first memory of falling in love with a good book takes me back to the fifth grade and a competition that our teacher held to see who could read the most books during the year that were over 100 pages. I was all in. I’m not sure if that sheds more light on my love of reading or my competitive spirit! Perhaps a bit of both.

Do you have a favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life or your work?

The poet Maya Angelou crafted this wonderful quote — “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” It’s such an important life lesson for anyone in a position of leadership, especially when you lead a service-oriented organization like Rotary. We can recite statistics and talking points to people, but to me, it’s moving people to action by painting a picture with our words that matters most. If our members and people interested in aligning with us feel empowered and needed, they will engage with us and make service and Rotary a way of life.

How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?

To me, it means being able to raise up those around me and bringing diverse perspectives together, and the pandemic has served as a global leadership level set of sorts — every man, woman and child traversed through this together, and no one was exempt. And consequently, I see an important leadership style emerging that is bold, courageous, and most importantly empathetic.

For example, Rotary and its members pivoted to respond to the pandemic — providing over US $51 million to fund related service projects in partnership with other organizations, local governments, and other philanthropies — and other nonprofits, organizations, and businesses did as well. For Rotary, pandemic leadership meant collaborating with other like-minded organizations and individuals, and to that end, we remain committed to developing and maintaining strong partnerships to solve current and future challenges.

In life, we come across many people, some who inspire us, some who change us, and some who make us better people. Is there a person or people who have helped you get to where you are today? Can you share a story?

I have drawn great inspiration from Dr. Sylvia Whitlock, who was the first woman in the world to become a Rotary club president and who was instrumental to breaking down barriers that had kept women from becoming members of Rotary. It was Dr. Whitlock’s club in Duarte, California that made the legal challenges necessary to open those doors, and I am in awe of her leadership and determination. I couldn’t have risen to any of the leadership posts that I’ve held in Rotary without her courage and tenacity.

Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. The world is currently facing a series of unprecedented crisis. So many of us see the news and ask how we can help. We’d love to talk about the steps that each of us can take to help heal our world, in our own way. Can you tell our readers a bit about your experience either working on this cause or your experience being impacted by it? Can you share a story with us?

Yes, the world is indeed facing unprecedented challenges, and that’s why Rotary was pleased to again take part in the Global Citizen Festival in New York in September to call on global leaders to invest in the future of women and girls, address climate change, respond to the global hunger crisis, and more, all in pursuit of ending global poverty.

To that end, Rotary pledged $150 million at the event to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) — a public-private partnership led by national governments with six core partners including Rotary, the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. What’s more, Rotary and its GPEI partners along with global leaders came together at the World Health Summit in Berlin on October 18, and secured US$2.6 billion to fund the GPEI’s eradication strategy. And Rotary and the Gates Foundation renewed their longstanding partnership to end polio, announcing a joint commitment of up to $450 million over the next three years to support the global polio eradication effort.

Although recent polio detections in places like New York and London have brought renewed attention to the disease, I am struck by the lengths that frontline female health workers go to to reach every last child with polio vaccines in Pakistan — which, along with Afghanistan, remains wild-polio endemic. I was inspired by these women when I joined them in August to immunize children against polio, and Rotary and our GPEI partners wouldn’t have reduced wild polio cases by 99.9% worldwide without their unwavering support.

OK. Here is the main question of our discussion. Can you please share your “5 Steps That Each Of Us Can Take To Proactively Help Heal Our World”. Kindly share a story or example for each.

Rather than sharing five steps people can take to heal our world, I am asking people to imagine a world where we get up each day knowing we can make a difference and subsequently make those dreams a reality by harnessing their connections and networks like Rotary.

Our 1.4 million members around the world are doing just that. For example, one of our members was working to get a young peace activist out of Afghanistan as U.S. troops withdrew last year. The member wasn’t sure how to even begin such an undertaking, but she tapped into the power of Rotary and her connections and reached out to a former Rotary Peace Fellow she’d met a few years earlier, and less than 24 hours later, the peace activist was on an evacuation list and making her way to Europe.

This is not a unique story for our members. We tackle the world’s most pressing challenges and because we align with the UN sustainable development goals, we unite with others and therefore strengthen our ability to create sustainable impact.

It’s very nice to suggest ideas, but what can we do to make these ideas a reality? What specific steps can you suggest to make these ideas actually happen? Are there things that the community can do to help promote these ideas?

No one can do it alone. It’s about harnessing the power of connections to open doors to make dreams reality. As we work together to solve challenges at international and local levels, we broaden and deepen our relationships and create new partnerships at all levels of leadership.

Within Rotary, my goal is to bring new and different voices to the forefront to uncover fresh and innovative approaches to making a difference and addressing challenges. Within Rotary we’re not only empowering clubs to take action to bring about positive, lasting change to communities around the world, we’re also actively engaging our membership to ensure a valuable and fulfilling club experience.

If you could tell other young people one thing about why they should consider making a positive impact on our world, like you, what would you tell them?

I would suggest they consider joining Rotary. For me, Rotary serves as a springboard for interacting with the community (both locally and globally). Service Above Self is our motto, and I joined knowing that I could be with other people who also believe in doing good in the world. That is our superpower.

How can our readers follow you online?

I invite them to follow and engage with me @JenJonesRotary.



Savio P. Clemente
Authority Magazine

Board Certified Wellness Coach (NBC-HWC), Journalist, Best-selling Author, Podcaster, and Stage 3 Cancer Survivor