Past Speakers

 

2024 Rotary Changing of the Guard

June 25th, 2024 
On June 25th,  join us as we celebrate our 2024 Changing of the Guard as we commemorate the end of Leslie Hauser’s tenure as Rotary President, and Welcome Saj Thachenkary, our 2024-25 Rotary President.
 

Dick Knapinski, Communications Director of the Experimental Aircraft Association

June 18th, 2024
Dick Knapinski has been Experimental Aircraft Association’s Director of Communications since 2010 and has been with the organization since 1992. He serves as the liaison between the media and EAA throughout the year, particularly during EAA AirVenture Oshkosh, which is the world’s largest fly-in convention and makes Wittman Regional Airport the world’s busiest airport for one week each summer.
 

Ari Brown, Senior Research Associate at the WI Policy Forum 

June 11th, 2024
Hear from Ari Brown, Senior Research Associate at the WI Policy Forum on June 11th as he discusses Milwaukee’s Community Oriented Policing Plan.
 

2024 Rotary Person of the Year - Michael Gosman 

May 28th, 2024
Michael Gosman has a passion for improving our community, which drew him to Acts Housing, an organization dedicated to breaking down the barriers for homeownership.

Under Mike's leadership, the organization has grown from seven employees in 2012 to over forty employees in 2023, while also increasing their revenue 13 fold to $9,000,000. 

Mike’s inventive ideas, products and services have resulted in stronger families, neighborhoods and communities in Milwaukee, and for these contributions, he is our 2024 Rotary Person of the Year. 
 

Sarah Pancheri, President and CEO of Summerfest 

May 21st, 2024
This past January, Sarah Pancheri was named the new president and CEO of Milwaukee World Festivals.

Sarah shared what's in store for Henry Maier Festival Park's upcoming season and an update on Summerfest, now operating in its 56th year.
 

Armed Forces Week: Col. Charles Merkel

May 14th, 2024
Our Armed Forces Week speaker was Col Charles Merkel, commander of the 128th Air Refueling Wing at the General Mitchell Air National Guard Base.

He addressed the current state of the Refueling Wing, their mission, plans for modernization, and efforts to compete for the KC-46 tanker. 
 

Jessica Wineberg, Policy Director of Vision Zero

May 7th, 2024
From 2002 to 2022, traffic deaths have increased by 113.5% in Milwaukee County, while traffic fatalities in the rest of the state during the same period have decreased by 36.1%. (Wisconsin Policy Forum)
 
On May 7th, Jessica Wineberg shared how she is tasked with implementing comprehensive safety measures and promoting sustainable transportation practices for the residents of Milwaukee County. 
 

Kevin Wheeler, CEO of A.O. Smith

April 30th, 2024
Milwaukeans quickly recognize the name A. O. Smith but not all know that this historic Milwaukee brand is one of the world’s leading providers of water heating and water treatment solutions for 150 years. This week in Memorial Hall,, Chairman and CEO of A.O. Smith, Kevin Wheeler, provided a snapshot of their 150 year history, and shared how they are continually developing state-of-the-art solutions to push new boundaries and pave the way in their industry.
 

Elysabeth Alfano, CEO of VegTech Invest

April 23rd, 2024
Elysabeth Alfano is the CEO of VegTech(TM) Invest and an expert on food systems transformation. She runs an ETF on the New York Stock Exchange that invests in innovative companies that are focused on a sustainable food system shift. Learn how companies like Anheuser-Busch are using their fermentation processes to grow protein for human consumption and the associated health and ecological benefits derived from these new sources of protein.
 

Mike Kertscher, President of Road America

April 16th, 2024
Located 60 miles north of Milwaukee, Road America, also known as The National Park of Speed, opened in 1955 and welcomes over 800,000 motor sport fans each year to enjoy over 600 acres in the Kettle Moraine. This week at Rotary Mike Kertscher, President of Road America, discussed the history of the track and its economic impact on Sheboygan County and the state of Wisconsin.
 

Peggy Williams-Smith, President & CEO of VISIT Milwaukee

April 9th, 2024
VISIT Milwaukee's CEO, Peggy Williams-Smith, gave an energized presentation to Rotarians on Tuesday and introduced VISIT's new and improved fresh brand while addressing the driving forces behind tourism in 2024 and beyond. Check out the presentation for an insightful glimpse into Milwaukee's vibrant tourism scene and its promising future.
 

Table Conversations: Starting Anew

April 2nd, 2024
Rotarians joined us for a special spring program tomorrow to help us focus on starting anew during this change in season. Over lunch, our members used questions to spark inspired and thoughtful dialogue in small groups.
 

Rotarian Andy Bochman, US Dept. of Energy/Idaho National Lab

March 26th, 2024
Every summer crowds flock to our city, but this time, in addition to a large number of high-profile visitors, Milwaukee is poised to get about as much attention as it can handle on July 15-18, when the eyes of almost every nation on the planet, and every state of the union will be upon us.   At a packed Memorial Hall yesterday, Rotarian Andy Bochman, senior grid strategist for Idaho National Laboratory’s National and Homeland Security directorate provided a brief snapshot of what Rotary members may expect to see as the RNC approaches.
 

Dr. Megan Schultz, Children's Hospital

March 19th, 2024
On Tuesday, Rotarians heard from Dr. Megan Schultz from Children's Hospital on gun violence in children. Guns are now the number one cause of death for American children - more than cancer, more than car accidents. Pediatric emergency physician Dr. Megan Schultz shared her perspective from working on the frontlines of America's gun violence epidemic, and what we can do to make our community safer for children.
 

Hanna Paul of Ideawake and Wayne Breitbarth of Power Formula

March 12th, 2024
Connecting in-person will always be at the heart of Rotary, yet we can also make personal and meaningful connections through social media—while expanding professional networks and enhancing brand visibility.  Rotarians enjoyed a two part presentation on Tuesday. First, Rotarian Hanna Paul of Ideawake presented our club's Social Media Kit, sharing how Rotarians can get involved online and help maximize RCM's reach. Then, Wayne Breitbarth of Power Formula provided handy tips on how to get the most out of LinkedIn and enhancing your connections and profile even further.
 

Rotary Big Project Finalists 

March 5th, 2024
In keeping with our legacy of initiating enduring projects in our community— the Milwaukee Rotary Centennial Arboretum, the Milwaukee Rotary Amphitheater at Pier Wisconsin, MKE Urban Stables— the RCM Board of Directors decided that the time is right for yet another significant contribution to the community. But what should it be?

Rotarians thoughtfully proposed seven projects, each worthy of careful consideration.  After thoughtful deliberation, the selection committee whittled the proposals to three. Club members had a chance to learn about each of them:

-The Zoological Society’s Empathy for Animals Program
-B-Line Park along the Beerline Trail
-The New State, an all-ages music hub on the Near West Side
 

Rotarian John Franke, Partner at Gass Turek LLC

February 27th, 2024
At a packed Memorial Hall on Tuesday, Rotarian John Franke shared his perspective on the the FBI undercover investigation that brought agent “Donnie Brasco” to our city in the late 1970’s, the related extensive wiretaps conducted by the FBI, and his work in leading the successful prosecution of Milwaukee’s Balistrieri organized crime family in the mid-1980’s.
 

Brandon Tschacher, Executive Director of the Milwaukee Esports Alliance

February 20th, 2024
This week at Rotary, members were introduced to the world of esports, the growing competitive video game industry that is projected to earn $3.5B in revenue by 2025. Brandon Tschacher, Executive Director of the Milwaukee Esports Alliance, provided an overview of the rising esports scene and shared how competitive gaming is taking off right here in Wisconsin.
 

Ian Bassin, Executive Director of Protect Democracy

February 13th, 2024
Rotarians filled Memorial Hall this week to hear from Executive Director of Protect Democracy, Ian Bassin.  Ian discussed global trends endangering democracy, what some of the factors are driving these dynamics, and what risks they pose for American civil society, including our business community.
 

Rob Henken, President at the Wisconsin Policy Forum

February 6th, 2024
Program Committee Chair Jamie Reeve, III noted Rob Henken has spoken to Rotary more frequently than any other person—and consistently get strong reviews. On Tuesday, Rob looked back on Milwaukee’s fiscal challenges, reviewed how the city is making ends meet in 2024 and what that says about its longer-term financial prognosis and its ability to sustain key services like police, fire, and libraries.
 

Chad Bauman, Executive Director Milwaukee Repertory Theater

January 30th, 2024
"Arts and culture are a central part of what makes Milwaukee a great place to live, work and play." This week, new Rotarian and Executive Director of the Milwaukee Repertory Theater, Chad Bauman, introduced the Rep's upcoming plans for the new Associated Bank Theater Center and shared an outlook on Milwaukee's arts and culture sector in the coming years.
 

Jason Turner, Wintrust Wealth Management

January 23rd, 2024
Rotarians were given a glimpse into the future as they heard Jason Turner of Wintrust Wealth Management return to Memorial Hall for his 2024 Economic forecast this week.  Using the philosophies of Warren and Jimmy Buffet, Jason shared state of the economy and the prospects for continued economic growth or recession in 2024 and beyond.
 

Othman Atta, Executive Director of the Islamic Society of Milwaukee

January 16th, 2024
Since the war broke out on October 6th, the Israeli-Palestinian crisis has been in the fore front of the news and also in the hearts of many. As a neutral platform, our club decided to invite two speakers to represent both views at Rotary.  Othman Atta, Executive Director of the Islamic Society of Milwaukee, who approached the conversation from the Palestinian perspective.
 

Miryam Rosenzweig President and CEO, Milwaukee Jewish Federation

January 9th, 2024
Since the war broke out on October 6th, the Israeli-Palestinian crisis has been in the fore front of the news and also in the hearts of many. As a neutral platform, our club decided to invite two speakers to represent both views at Rotary.    On January 9th, we heard from Miryam Rosenzwieg, President and CEO of the Milwaukee Jewish Federation. 
 

Rotary Holiday Program 2023

December 19th, 2023
The fabulous Florentine Opera performers regaled us with tunes of the season. Happy Holidays from Rotary!
 

Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley

December 12th, 2023
County Executive David Crowley looked back a historic year that saw many accomplishments for Milwaukee County. We heard from the County Executive share his thoughts on these achievements, including the passage of new revenue generating tools, the first budget surplus in over two decades, many critical investments that are making our community healthier, and more.
 

Meg Kissinger, Author of "While You Were Out"

December 6th, 2023
Rotarians heard from Pulitzer Prize finalist and former reporter for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Meg Kissinger. Meg shared the story behind her latest book, WHILE YOU WERE OUT: An Intimate Family Portrait of Mental Illness in an Era of Silence, which details how her own family’s story is part of a broader movement to destigmatize mental illness.
 

Adam Gerstmeier, Nemak

November 28th, 2023
Adam Gerstmeier, General Manager of Nemak's three Wisconsin facilities based in Sheboygan, offered his unique perspectives on some of the latest automotive trends and the impact that the shift to electrification is having on the auto industry. 
 

CONNECTING Through Conversation #4

November 21st, 2023
Rotarians participated in our fourth iteration of our table conversations, where dedicated the whole program to getting to know one another with prompted questions focused on family traditions.
 

Dale Kooyenga, President, Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce

November 14th, 2023
Rotarians heard Dale's story and the results of his conversations with over a hundred CEOs this past year. Dale also shared what he has heard from these conversations and shared how his experiences in business, politics and the military have shaped his perspective and leadership style.
 

Christa Beal-Diefenbach, Executive Director of the Friends of the Domes

November 7th, 2023
Christa shared the history of Friends of the Domes as well as their plan to identify a solution for the Domes that addresses the building’s physical limitations, revitalizes Mitchell Park, and supports a business model that is sustainable.
 

Garan Chivinski, Ingeteam

October 31th, 2023
Ingeteam, a team made up of more than 4,500 people present in 21 countries, is convinced that there is a different way of generating, transporting, storing and consuming energy in a more efficient and sustainable way. The energy transition is no longer the future, it is the present, and to face this challenge they have created the movement "The Real Dream Team" made up of heroes and heroines like you who share our dream: a world in which energy production is clean.
 

Danielle Brian, Executive Director and President of Project on Government Oversight 

October 24th, 2024
Danielle Brian is the executive director and president of the Project On Government Oversight (POGO). POGO has received the highest reviews for organizational and financial performance from the three largest charity evaluators in the country: Charity Navigator, Better Business Bureau, and GreatNonprofits.org.
 

Matthew Jarosz, Professor of Architecture & Urban Planning at UWM

October 17th, 2023
 
It is hard to talk about historic preservation in Milwaukee without recognizing the work of Matt Jarosz, professor at UWM’s School of Architecture and Urban Planning. Matt approaches historic preservation from both the philosophical and technical perspective. Matt shared stories of local preservation efforts that worked and not worked—all which play a role in creating the architectural landscape of Milwaukee today.
 

 

Reince Priebus, Chairman of the MKE 2024 RNC Host Committee

October 10th, 2023
Reince Priebus is the Chairman of the MKE 2024 Host Committee, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization with the mission to work on behalf of the City of Milwaukee, its businesses, and residents, ensuring that the 2024 Republican National Convention has all the necessary tools for a successful event. Priebus shared to Rotarians an update on the 2024 convention, the Host Committee’s role, and what attendees can expect in Milwaukee next summer.
 

Taylor Korslin, Rethink 794

October 3rd, 2023
Rotarians heard from Taylor Korslin of Rethink 794, a volunteer group advocating to replace a stretch of elevated Interstate-794 with at-grade streets to better connect Downtown with the Third Ward and Lakefront.  Taylor discussed the timely debate, WisDOT's potential options, and elaborated on the merits of rethinking Interstate-794.
 

Learn More About RCM's Work In Guatemala

September 26th, 2023
Did you know that the Rotary Club of Milwaukee has facilitated over $1 million of projects in the highlands of Guatemala since 2010? In partnership with Engineer without Borders, our club’s efforts have resulted in the construction of ten water systems, five pedestrian bridges and three schools. Also, working with the Alliance for Smiles, surgery was performed on Guatemalan 33 children with cleft anomalies. Rotarian Kathy Ehley conducted a conversation with fellow Rotarians Jerry Stepaniak, Eric Isbister and Paige Radke, all veteran Guatemalan travelers.
 

Mike Nichols, President of the Badger Institute

September 19th, 2023
On Tuesday, September 19th Mike Nichols, President of the Badger Institute spoke on “Why Wisconsin Needs a Flat Tax.” Wisconsin is the home of the first progressive income tax. Do we really want to abandon our roots? Aren’t flat taxes just schemes to help the rich? Are we shifting the burden to those who need help the most?
 

Dana Guthrie, 

September 12th, 2023
Dana Guthrie shared an overview of Gateway Capital, a Milwaukee based venture capital firm which seeks overlooked emerging entrepreneurial opportunities that traditionally lack venture capital investment. The firm’s objective is to exceed national average returns for their investors and create a stronger and self-sustaining entrepreneurial ecosystem in Wisconsin. 
 

The Future of I-794

September 5th, 2023
Joe Gallamore, Project Supervisor of WisDOT, Mike Hammond, Public Involvement Lead at HNTB, and Mike Ernst, Deputy Project Manager at HNTB discussed a recent study of the I-794 at the Lake Interchange. The study identified a transportation solution that addresses deteriorating infrastructure in a manner that will improve safety and operations while striving to enhance community connectivity and compatibility with local plans.
 

David Maraniss, New York Times Best Selling Author

August 29th, 2023
New York Times best selling author David Maranniss will spoke on his new biography, Path Lit by Lightning: The Life of Jim Thorpe. This riveting biography details the life of America’s greatest all-around athlete, Jim Thorpe, who rose to world fame as a mythic talent who excelled at every sport. He won gold medals in the decathlon and pentathlon at the 1912 Stockholm Olympics, was an All-American football player at the Carlisle Indian School, the star of the first class of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and played major league baseball for John McGraw’s New York Giants. Even in a golden age of sports celebrities, he was one of a kind.
 

Dr. Noelle Brigden, Marquette University 

August 22nd, 2023
Dr. Noelle Brigden, Professor of Political Science at Marquette University addressed the causes of Salvadoran migration to the United States.  
 

Sara Shaw, Senior Education Researcher at the Wisconsin Policy Forum

August 15th, 2023
Sara Shaw, Senior Education Researcher for the Wisconsin Policy Forum, discussed a new Forum report released today on teacher turnover trends in Wisconsin. Her presentation sized up how much turnover is occurring and what that means for districts' ability to staff their classrooms. Sara also reviewed whether turnover is caused by teachers moving to different districts versus leaving the profession altogether and how turnover rates compare among various districts, including the Milwaukee Public Schools.
 

Former Governor Scott Walker in an Appearance with the Milwaukee Press Club

August 8th, 2023
Scott Walker, former two-term Wisconsin governor, spoke at the Rotary luncheon on Tuesday, August 8, in conjunction with the Milwaukee Press Club and WisPolitics.com.
 
Walker now is president of Young America’s Foundation [YAF], an outreach organization that introduces young adults to principles of conservatism such as individual freedom, a strong national defense, free enterprise, and traditional values. The foundation is a partner with Fox News in the first Republican presidential primary debate for the 2024 election cycle, scheduled for August 23 at Fiserv Forum. Walker, who briefly sought the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, has urged former President Donald Trump to take part in the debate. Trump, the current Republican front-runner, has not committed despite such criticism and has said he might hold an alternative event. Walker took questions from a panel of journalists and from the audience at the luncheon, moderated by Milwaukee Press Club President Maryann Lazarski, series/documentary producer for Milwaukee PBS.
 

Greg Wesley with ThriveOn King - A Vision of Collaboration and Community

July 25th, 2023
Construction has begun to restore and re-purpose the former Gimbels-Schuster’s building on Martin Luther King Drive. On Tuesday, Greg Wesley will share the vision of ThriveOn King and details of the restoration and redevelopment of the iconic department store building. ThriveOn King, a collaboration between the Medical College of Wisconsin, Greater Milwaukee Foundation and Royal Capital Group is focused on five priority areas - housing, early childhood education, health and wellness, social cohesion, and economic opportunity. Guided by deep deliberate community engagement and partnership, the collaboration and project are catalyst and exemplar for community and economic impact and investment.
 

Dr. Jeremy Kedziora, Endowed Chair in Artificial Intelligence at MSOE

July 11th, 2023
Daily headlines are filled with references to generative AI, ChatGPT, Deep Learning and Neural Networks. As business and community leaders, what do you need to know to stay ahead of the curve? On Tuesday, Dr. Jeremy Kedziora, Endowed Chair in Artificial Intelligence at MSOE shared his presentation, Beyond the ChatGPT Hype: What is AI?
 

2023 Changing of the Guard

June 27th, 2023
On June 27th Rotary toasted outgoing President Karen Hung on a successful year and welcomed Leslie Hauser as the new Club President for 2023-24.
 

Rotary Person of the Year 2023, Daniel Goldin

June 20th, 2023
Daniel Goldin is on a single-minded mission to connect books to Milwaukeeans. In creating Boswell Book Company, he has persevered against low margins, the dominance of Amazon, and the shuttering of COVID, through persistence, business savvy, and incredible hard work. His long-lived partnership with the Milwaukee Public Library has enabled them to develop and grow a strong fan base for literary programming by delivering quality author events to diverse communities across the city. On June 20th, Daniel was recognized for his work that has touched many lives and has made Milwaukee a much richer place to live.
 

Steve Wallace, CEO of the Omanhene Bean Company

June 13th, 2023
Rotarians returned to Memorial Hall on Tuesday to hear from Steve Wallace, CEO of the Omanhene Bean Company. Based in Milwaukee, Omanhene cocoa is made and processed in Ghana, whereas competitors buy the beans from a tropical country and ship them to countries like Canada or the United States to make their product.
 

Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson

May 30th, 2023
Mayor Cavalier Johnson will spoke to Rotary regarding public safety, economic development, and resolving Milwaukee's fiscal bind.
 

Dr. Ellen Censky, President & CEO of the Milwaukee Public Museum

May 23rd, 2023
Dr. Ellen Censky, President & CEO of the Milwaukee Public Museum, and her team are developing a brand new home for the Museum. To be located at the corner of Sixth and McKinley Streets in the Haymarket neighborhood of Milwaukee (adjacent to the Deer District), the future Museum will be the largest cultural project in Wisconsin history. Dr. Censky provided Rotarians an overview of the project, spotlight recent news and visuals regarding the architectural and exhibit designs, and an insider's look at what it takes to build a natural history museum.
 

Armed Services Day Program with Brigadier General (Ret) Joane K. Mathews

May 16th, 2023
At our annual Armed Forces Week Program, we welcomed Brig. General (Ret). Joane Mathews, the first female Native American general officer in the Army National Guard. General Mathews shared with us her inspirational journey filled with numerous milestones and firsts, as well as four lessons she learned that are essential for leadership growth.
 

Dr. Shekar Kurpad, Medical Director of Neuroscience at Medical College of WI

May 9th, 2023
Dr. Shekar Kurpad, the Medical Director of Neuroscience at the Medical College of Wisconsin, specializes in the treatment of a wide variety of spinal and cranial disorders. Dr. Kurpad introduced Rotarians to BRAVE, (Building Resilience through Action in Veterans and First Responders) the Midwest's first program designed specifically to treat mild traumatic brain injury in veterans and first responders.
 

Piotr Jankowski, District Governor of Rotary District 2231 in Poland

May 2nd, 2023
At breakfast, Rotarians had the privilege of hearing from Piotr Jankowski, the District Governor of Rotary District 2231 in Poland and an active member of the Rotary Club of Koszalin. Piotr shared anecdotes and videos highlighting how he and Polish Rotary clubs are coordinating international aid for Ukraine since the outbreak of the war in 2022.