Rotary Club of Kitchener


November 2, 2020

Updated version - to correct website links and to add a link to a news article from the Kitchener Record published Nov 3, 2020 titled Kitchener Educator one of Canada’s top Black women to watch.

Meeting Recording

A recording of today’s meeting can be found at this YouTube link

President's Comments

President Louise was pleased to announce that our Rotarian of the Month for November is Neil Swayze in recognition of his leadership with our Online Auction Fundraiser.
Members were reminded that Rotary has a strong connection with the United Nations and that each year in November there is a Rotary Day at The UN building in New York,  More information can be found on the RI website.
Members can still make a donation to our Food Bank Fundraiser.  The link is on our club website.
Our club has received information about an organization called ToastyToes.  They have been in operation for a number of years collecting socks for needy persons and the homeless.  This year they are able to have a donation drive and are asking people to consider a donation of $20 so they can purchase socks.
They can be contacted here:
There was an article about the organization in the Record recently that can be viewed here:


Colleen James, Keynote Speaker, guest of the club
Ian Thomas – guest of Carl Zehr
Erin Way – guest of President Louise
Antonella Kis – guest of the club
Kingsley Madu – guest of Paul Rostrup
Kelly Miller –  guest of President Louise
Linda Kenny – guest of Jim Brown
Cindy Klien – Waterloo Regional Police Services, guest of Melodie Mensch

Visiting Rotarians

Brian Bennett – District Membership Chair, Tavistock
Karin Voisin – Kitchener Westmount,
Maria Greco – Kitchener Westmount,
Jack Kinch – President Kitchener Westmount,
Bill Green – Kitchener Westmount,
Dave Forwel – Kitchener Westmount,
Graham Gardiner - Kitchener Westmount
Katherine Loveys – Kitchener Westmount
Andrew Williams – Kitchener Westmount
Karen Spencer – Kitchener Westmount
Melodie Mensch – President Kitchener Conestoga
Diane Wolfender – Kitchener Conestoga
Joe Pop – Kitchener Conestoga
Steve Knipping – President Kitchener Grand River
Dan Ferguson – Kitchener Grand River
Kevin Ballantyne – Kitchener Grand River
Lowell Ewert – Kitchener Grand River
Pierre Lapalme – Kitchener Grand River
Tracey Weiler  – President Waterloo
Kelly Steiss – Waterloo
Elena Shpinel Moscow International

Happy Jar

Cheryl Ewing was happy to have been able to have recently made a virtual presentation to the Rotary Club of Tucson, the club with which we originally partnered for the Nogales project and our recent work with the project and that the Tucson club is considering getting involved again.  Cheryl was also happy that she has been able to make arrangements for Martin Jones to present to Halifax Rotary about our Rotary African Women’s Education Fund.
Neil Swayze is pleased that just about all of the items brought in so far for our Online Auction have now been entered into the auction system.  He thanked Darren Sweeney for his assistance in getting the graphics just right.
Ernie Ginsler is happy that a major project of his wife Judy of setting up an online store for her Weaving and Spinners Guild, has been completed after many hours of dedicated work. Click this link to the online store
Tracey Weiler was pleased for the cooperation that exists among the five local clubs and for the opportunity to participate in today’s meeting.

Club Announcements

Neil Swayze reminded members and guests of our Online Auction and that it goes live in just five days – this Saturday at 10:00 a.m.  We have about 160 items so far with a value of just over $28,000, so we are very close to our goal.  More items are needed, though, to help gets us there.  Members who have not yet been able to contribute the $500 in donations or product are asked to please do so.  Contact Neil or Bill Proctor if you have questions or items to be picked up.
Paul Rostrup gave an update on the Catch The Ace fundraiser which is now in its eight week and has a cumulative jackpot of $3,641.
President Louise was sad to announce the recent passing of Gord Ferguson, a longtime member of the Rotary Club of Westmount.

Program Highlights

Our guest speaker today was Colleen James speaking on Unconscious Bias.
She was introduced by Adrian DeCoo:
Colleen is passionate about helping others learn. A professor at Conestoga College in the School of Business, she challenges her students to discover the leader within and that learning is a lifelong journey. Having more than fifteen years of experience promoting inclusive environments in the public, private and non-profit sectors, Colleen has blended her passions of education and diversity understanding to provide training to organizations. In 2015 she started Divonify Inc, local equity and inclusion consulting agency. Her primary area of practice focuses on using real-life situations to diffuse uncomfortable conversations surrounding race, ethnicity and gender, enabling to thought-provoking discussions that challenge assumptions. These conversations lead to a deeper understanding of the impacts of systemic racism, power, privilege and the ability to see through multiple lenses. The result is the creation of meaningful discussions, and necessary tools to help generate new EDI frameworks that address anti-racism, equity and diversity.
Colleen has completed training in leadership and inclusion, holds degrees from the University of Toronto, is a graduate from Leadership Waterloo Region and is currently completing her Master of Education in Educational Leadership and Policy at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE). Colleen participates on several committees and collaborative projects, including the Mayor’s Task Force on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and is a recipient of the Leading Women, Leading Girls – Building Communities Kitchener Centre 2020 recognition program created by MPP Laura Mae Lindo. Most recently she was named one of the Top 100 Black Women to Watch in Canada by the CIBWE
Here are some highlights from her PowerPoint presentation.
What is Unconscious Bias?
  • Unconscious biases are social stereotypes about certain groups of people that individuals form outside their own conscious awareness. Everyone holds unconscious beliefs about various social and identity groups, and these biases stem from one’s tendency to organize social worlds by categorizing.
Collen had has do a mental exercise of thinking of the initials of 10 friends you trust (no relatives).  Research shows that when this done most, and certainly the top five or three are almost identical in gender, cultural background, ethnicity, etc.
What Does This Mean When Applied to the Workforce or Boards or Committees?
  • When we apply the same to the workplace. The leadership (usually less than 10) looks like that trusted three. However the further you go down - frontline becomes diverse.
    • Negative patterns become normalized.
    • Result: the opportunities go to those in your top 3
  • The question you must ask is why an organization has little diversity in leadership and what is preventing those that are racialized from obtaining leadership positions...
  • The key is to look outside of the network we are in - more outreach. Less pointing fingers saying BIPOC doesn’t apply or they won’t buy your product.
  • What work have you done to really engage more importantly what opportunities have you provided to BIPOC?
  • This is the affinity bias….it runs deep in institutions at the leadership level
The Four Dimensions of Racism:
Policies and practices that reinforce racist standards within a workplace or organization.
Multiple institutions collectively upholding racist policies and practices, i.e., a society
Racist acts and micro-aggression carried out from one person to another.
The subtle and overt messages that reinforce negative beliefs and self-hatred in individuals
Commitment To Change Must Come From the Top
  • Leadership must commit
  • Addressing Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and systemic racism starts at the top
  • If you are committed to equity, then ask yourself what is happening? – looking internally
  • If your BIPOC employees are silent there is an issue – what is preventing them from speaking/applying/feeling heard/what barriers exist for them to connect with leadership
  • Numbers matter –look at the data.  - Initially things may look worse, but the data is something that you can measure going forward.
Have conversations 
Colleen is happy to respond to questions or requests for more information.
Colleen James
Founder and Principal Consultant

Closing Remarks & Reminders

President Louise reminded members of the great speakers / presenters we have lined up in the coming weeks and that details can be found on our club website.
Members are asked to keep an eye out for the Invitation to assist with the Online Auction Distribution day which will be sent out soon.
Nov 02, 2020 12:00 PM
Conscious and Unconscious Bias with Colleen James
Nov 09, 2020
Joint Rotary Meeting with Kitchener Westmount on Wednesday Nov 11th
Nov 11, 2020 12:00 PM
Past RI President - Barry Rossin
Nov 16, 2020
Committee Meetings to be Scheduled by Committee Chairs
Nov 23, 2020 7:00 PM
7080 District Governor Update
View entire list
Birthdays & Membership Anniversaries
Member Birthdays
Jess Perucho
November 6
Rohit Kumar
November 11
Dave Martindale
November 23
Ed Fowler
November 24
Mike Ellis
November 25
Join Date
James Brown
November 3, 2014
6 years
Jess Perucho
November 4, 2019
1 year
Darren Sweeney
November 28, 2011
9 years