Rotary names attorney John Hewko as its new top executive
Rotary International has named John Hewko, an attorney with extensive international experience in both the private and public sectors, to be the global humanitarian service organization’s new top executive, serving as its general secretary.
In this position, Hewko will manage more than 600 employees of Rotary International and its charitable arm, The Rotary Foundation of Rotary International. Headquartered in Evanston, Illinois, USA, with regional offices in seven countries, Rotary’s Secretariat supports the activities of more than 33,000 Rotary clubs in over 200 countries and geographical areas, with a combined membership of 1.2 million men and women. The Rotary Foundation annually distributes over $180 million to fund a variety of educational programs and humanitarian projects throughout the world.
Hewko is a former partner with the international law firm of Baker & McKenzie and was vice president at the Millennium Challenge Corporation, a U.S. government agency established in 2004 to deliver U.S. foreign assistance to the world’s poorest countries. He begins work on 1 July at a key moment in Rotary’s 106-year history. Hewko will play a lead role in the implementation of the organization’s newly revised strategic plan that envisions Rotary’s expanded engagement in areas such as maternal and child health, water and sanitation, disease prevention and treatment, basic education and literacy, economic and community development, and peace studies and conflict prevention/resolution. His tenure could also see the successful conclusion of Rotary’s principal humanitarian initiative: its 25-year campaign to eradicate the crippling disease polio, a goal that is more than 99 percent complete.
Hewko also will interact with government and business leaders to enhance Rotary’s global visibility and forge new strategic partnerships worldwide to achieve common objectives and maximize the use of resources. He also will work to expand and strengthen Rotary’s current relationship with organizations such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the World Health Organization, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and others.
In announcing Hewko’s hiring, Rotary International President Ray Klinginsmith hailed his “visionary leadership” and predicted that under Hewko’s leadership Rotary will “continue to grow in numbers, stature, and involvement in making the world a better place.”
“Rotary is fortunate to have attracted a candidate with John Hewko’s proven ability and extensive international experience,” Klinginsmith said. “His leadership will be an important asset for Rotary in the next few years.”
During his 15 years at Baker & McKenzie, Hewko specialized in international corporate transactions in emerging markets. He participated in the establishment of the firm’s Moscow office and was the managing partner of its offices in Kyiv and Prague. While in Ukraine in the early 1990s, Hewko assisted the working group that prepared the initial draft of the new Ukrainian post-Soviet constitution and was a charter member of the first Rotary club in Kyiv. Prior to joining Baker & McKenzie, he worked for leading Brazilian and Argentine law firms and later with Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher in Washington and New York handling Latin American and project finance transactions.
In 2004, Hewko entered public service with the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC). As vice president for operations and compact development, Hewko had primary responsibility for managing MCC’s relationship with its 26 partner countries in Africa, Asia, South America, the Middle East, and the former Soviet Union. During his tenure he oversaw the development, negotiation, and approval of foreign assistance agreements with 18 countries totaling $6.3 billion for projects in infrastructure, agriculture, water, sanitation, health, and education. For the past year, he has been a non-resident senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, where his writing has focused on international development and foreign policy issues.
Hewko is a 1985 graduate of Harvard Law School, and holds a master’s degree from Oxford University (where he studied as a Marshall Scholar) and a bachelor’s degree from Hamilton College in Clinton, New York. He speaks six languages.
“I am delighted to be joining Rotary and honored to be able to participate in the organization’s mission to promote world peace and understanding by addressing some of the root causes of conflict, such as poverty, hunger, disease, illiteracy, and the global water and sanitation crisis,” Hewko said. “Rotary’s global membership of 1.2 million business and professional leaders -- supported by a dedicated, professional staff -- is a powerful resource that is making a meaningful global and grassroots contribution to that goal. Just look at what Rotary already has accomplished in the area of polio prevention and eradication.”
Hewko emerged from a field of 440 potential candidates for Rotary’s top job. The Rotary search committee worked with Korn/Ferry International, the world’s largest executive search firm. Hewko replaces Edwin Futa, who is retiring after 10 years as general secretary.
Hewko and his wife, Margarita, have a daughter, Maria, who graduates this year from high school in the Washington, D.C., area.