Scottish lawyer to lead Rotary into its 105th year
BIRMINGHAM, UK (29 June 2009) – John Kenny, a retired judge and notary from Grangemouth, Scotland, will take office as president of Rotary International on 1 July, becoming the first Scotsman to head the international humanitarian service organization in its 105-year history.
For more than 20 years, the eradication of polio has been Rotary’s top priority, and Kenny says he will devote his one-year term to the final push needed to vanquish the crippling, potentially deadly disease once and for all. Since Rotary vowed to end polio in 1985, cases have plunged by more than 99 percent, but Kenny says that’s not good enough.
“Until the day the earth is declared polio-free, this work must be our first priority, and our main focus,” Kenny told nearly 20,000 Rotary club members from more 150 countries at Rotary International’s annual convention in Birmingham. “It is up to us to finish the job.”
Kenny has traveled to India to immunize children against polio, a crippling and potentially fatal disease that still threatens children in Africa, Africa and the Middle East.
Since the launch of Rotary’s PolioPlus program in 1985, Rotary members -- who now number more than 1.2 million men and women in over 200 countries and geographical areas -- have helped to immunize more than two billion children in 122 countries. As the lead private sector contributor and volunteer arm of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative – a public/private partnership spearheaded by Rotary, the World Health Organization, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and UNICEF – Rotary has contributed US$800 million and countless volunteer hours to the cause.
Rotary is now working with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to raise an additional $550 million in vital funds needed to finish off polio for good.
During his term, Kenny will also encourage Rotary clubs around the world to partner with local governments and non-governmental organizations to initiate projects that improve literacy rates, eliminate hunger and malnutrition, and provide clean water and sanitation to communities in developing countries.
“We in Rotary have potential that is unmatched by any other humanitarian organization in the world,” he said, adding that the water and sanitation issue is particularly important. “We must work to bring clean water to those who lack it, as well as ensure the safety of existing supplies. This is an area in which I have believed strongly, and worked consistently, for the last 20 years.”
Kenny joined the Rotary Club of Grangemouth in 1970 and has served Rotary International as a member of the Board of Directors and as a Rotary Foundation trustee. He is also a past president of Rotary International in Great Britain and Ireland.
A graduate of Glasgow University, Kenny is a past dean of his local law faculty and a retired judge and notary. He is past president of the Forth Valley Junior Chamber of Commerce and the Federation of Scottish Junior Chamber of Commerce and past general legal counsel of Jaycees International. He was also appointed deputy lieutenant of his district by Queen Elizabeth II. Near the end of his term, he will preside at Rotary’s 2010 international convention, set for June 20-23 in Montreal, Canada.
Members of the media are welcome to attend any Rotary convention event. Media must check in at the convention press center at NEC for press credentials. Advanced registration is available.
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Rotary is a global network of business and professional leaders who provide humanitarian service and help to build goodwill and peace in the world. There are more than 1.2 million Rotary members in over 33,000 clubs in more than 200 countries and geographical regions