Global legal expert receives Foundation alumni honor
Peter Kyle, 2009-10 Global Alumni Service to Humanity Award recipient, talks to other Foundation alumni during the Rotary Alumni Celebration in Montréal. Photo by Michael Tjoa
Peter Kyle, an attorney and global legal reform expert, is the recipient of the 2009-10 Global Alumni Service to Humanity Award, The Rotary Foundation’s top honor for alumni.
The New Zealand-born Rotarian and 1973-74 Ambassdorial Scholar addressed attendees at the Rotary Alumni Celebration on 19 June before the 2010 RI Convention in Montréal, Québec, Canada. Kyle will be recognized during Tuesday’s plenary session at the convention.
Kyle thanked those who helped him get on a path of service, particularly his scholarship sponsor, the Rotary Club of Wellington North. He also encouraged other alumni in attendance to reconnect with the "passion for Rotary."
"That’s what Rotary and Rotarians are all about -- we reach out," Kyle said. "We don’t always know what individual impacts we make, but we know that the ripple effect of these interventions worldwide has an amazing impact on the needs of the deserving poor."
Kyle’s career is a testament to the effect one individual can have on the world. A member of the Rotary Club of Capitol Hill (Washington, D.C.), he has worked on more than 100 development projects in over 80 countries for the World Bank. He joined the World Bank in 1992, shortly after the governments of the Soviet Union and other Eastern European countries collapsed, and spent five years commuting to Kazakhstan, Poland, Russia, Ukraine, and other nations, advising on the legal reforms necessary to transition from a socialist system to an economy based on market principles.
Kyle was part of a pioneer reform effort that had to start from scratch.
"There was no template or textbook," he said. "History will be the judge if we got it right."
Before working for the World Bank, Kyle was counsel for the Asian Development Bank, based in Manila, Philippines, and in private practice in New Zealand. He continues to serve as an international consultant based in Washington, D.C., having retired as lead counsel from the World Bank in 2009 after a 17-year career.
Kyle’s Ambassadorial Scholarship, which brought him to the University of Virginia to study law, helped point him in the direction he would later take. “It was a fascinating time to be a young law student in the United States,” he said. “My Rotary year convinced me that sooner or later I would want to focus on international issues,” he said before the celebration.
Kyle joined the Wellington North club just two years after completing his studies as a Rotary Scholar. “It all happened very naturally and seemed almost an extension of my Ambassadorial Scholarship experience,” he said. “Rotary has been a very important part of my life for over 36 years and has enabled me to become involved in all manner of projects and service activities.”
Most recently, Kyle’s passion has been to promote the Foundation’s educational programs and reconnect with Foundation alumni in District 7620 (District of Columbia; part of Maryland). Many of the district’s 400 alumni had lost contact with Rotary, but semiannual gatherings hosted by Kyle’s club have helped bring a lot of them back into the family of Rotary. Alumni now compose almost a third of the 30-member club.
"I thoroughly enjoy my interactions with the alumni and being able to assist with job applications, speaking engagements, and generally ensuring that the Rotary flame continues to burn brightly, and that they remain connected with this wonderful organization," Kyle said.