Maria Haase – President
I grew up in Germany and moved to San Diego for my Bachelor’s. When I met my husband, I got “stuck” in this beautiful city. As a travel writer, I get to travel and experience different cultures and communities around the world.
I feel very fortunate and recently decided to join Rotary E-Club of San Diego Global to give back. I am looking forward to connecting with like-minded people and supporting projects around the world.
As a result of returning to my native Tijuana after a prolonged period of following a career path in Medical Research, I started getting reacquainted with my city and got involved with a team of doctors that offered free consultation in diverse areas of the city. The locations included residential homes for seniors, rehabilitation centers and several children’s homes.
This was an eye-opening experience that drove me into looking to create a bigger impact and wanting to be part of something that could bring aid to a greater extent. Not long after that, I was invited to a Padres baseball game, and I met a group of Rotarians that were there for a Rotary Night at the Padres event. I have heard of Rotary clubs before, and I often wondered about them, so this was the perfect opportunity to get to know more about them.
What I discovered compelled me to join a Rotary club in Tijuana, and soon after that I received an invitation to become part of the Coronado Binacional club, which lead me to the San Diego E-Club, four years later. My time in the club has been very gratifying as we have been able to reach international and local communities with our service projects, and we aim to set a standard of promoting peace and goodwill with a Peace Pole that stands in our representation at the cherished Balboa Park.
I have been serving my club as the chair of Service Projects and I am looking forward to continuing working towards our goals as club President 2022-2023.
Benjamin Kettor is originally from Liberia, West Africa. Since the late 90’s, he has been involved in humanitarian services working with organizations like UNHCR, GTZ, World Hope, Medecins du Monde – France, Orphan Cry, Compassion for African Villages, Link Aid and Destiny Hands International in an effort to help alleviate the sufferings of needy people and communities around the world.
While attending College as an International Student in Upstate New York, Benjamin became aware of Rotary International through the mentorship of Rotarian Ken Wilcox, Jr who took him to several Rotary meetings and conferences since 2008. As he traveled with his mentor from one Rotary meeting to another, making presentations and sharing his experiences from a 14-year civil war that his country (Liberia) suffered, he became involved in undertaking and coordinating projects in partnership with Orphan Cry and Clubs from Rotary District 7170.
Fast forward, in 2016, Benjamin was recognized by Rotary Foundation as Paul Harris Fellow “in appreciation of tangible and significant assistance given for the furtherance of better understanding and friendly relations among peoples of the world.” This recognition further motivated him to finally become a full flesh member of Rotary. When Benjamin looks through the lenses of assisting people, he believes that the centerpiece of his passion grows and he feels satisfied. He is the current President of the Club for the Year 2021-22.
Maureen Venti Duncan
After college I made the best choice of my life: I joined the Peace Corps. I was sent to Brazil which became a country I have stayed connected to throughout my life. I spent my 20s in Oakland teaching special education and unwed mothers. My 30s were spent raising my children and changing careers, writing computer-based children’s reading programs, which was a revolutionary idea for the times 1980s.
During my 40s and 50s: I became a systems analyst, working with government agencies – health and human services, probation, and the courts. But I made a u-turn and came back to teaching, this time, teaching vocational programs: computer information systems and business and managing welfare to work grants with Peralta Community College in the SF Bay Area
I moved to San Diego in my 60s to help one of my sons start his own business and shortly after arriving, joined a local Rotary Club. A Rotary opportunity came up to get a GUTS (Grant for University Teachers Scholarship) and I found myself back in Brazil but this time in the Amazon. Then Rotary gave me another “gift, an invitation to be a Cadre for Central and South America. Cadres do evaluations on large Rotary Grants, over $100,000. I have been on over 15 evaluation projects in Honduras, Brazil, Mexico, Guatemala, Bolivia.
I have enjoyed all the evaluation excursions but fell in love with the students at one vocational high school in Guatemala. I vowed to create my own District grant, helping 16 of them start their own businesses while finishing high school. It was a great success but Covid hit and it has been a struggle to keep them in school, 15 of them did graduate and I was able to support, through District Grants and friends ‘donations, five of these students to further their education at the college level, albeit on-line. We, they, struggle and overcome obstacles every day; the pandemic and economy is still a disaster in Guatemala.
Marian, a San Diego native, discovered Rotary International as a freshman at Helix Charter High School. After participating in several service projects she decided to join the Interact club.
Thereafter, as a university student, she joined UCLA Rotaract and was selected as a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar to represent District 5340 in Budapest, Hungary. Her half-Montenegrin-half Mexican identity gave her a unique insight and openness toward diverse cultural heritages, prompting her to learn many languages, and participate in various international projects. As a Rotary scholar, she helped 100 orphans in a remote village of Transylvania with school supplies, food, and scholarships through a joint effort with various clubs in the United States and Europe. She continued her involvement with Rotary while completing her Master’s Degree at the London School of Economics and returned to Los Angeles to help start the Young Professionals club of Beverly Hills.
After returning to San Diego, to start a career in healthcare, David Ballesteros, her Rotary mentor, approached her with the idea of starting an e-club. Together with the help of several Rotarians, who are part of the club today, RECSDG was chartered. From the onset, the vision included having an electronic club with members from around the world and with a particular focus on international service projects.
Marian served as charter President and President for two subsequent terms. She strongly believes in Rotary’s mission, service above self, and enjoys giving back to the community, on a local and global level.
I am an east coast transplant. My husband and I moved to San Diego in 2010. It was a giant leap of faith. We didn’t know anyone and had only been to the city on a few occasions to attend conferences. But we loved the feel of the city and the weather. It was the antithesis of our home city of New York and the city of Albany, N.Y. where we had lived the past 30 years. But we were ready for a big change! Neither one of us has regretted that decision for a moment.
I started my professional career as a Librarian back in the 1980’s. I navigated to the online database field where librarians were some of the earliest venturers. There were no personal computers, no internet, no cell phones. Only large mainframes with databases that stored bibliographic information. The texts of books and journals arrived in an explosion. I was fortunate to be there from the beginning.
I was out of the workforce during the 1990’s and 2000’s to raise my daughter. But I am not one to be idle —-I found organizations that needed business people on their boards and as volunteers. I was able to use my skills, albeit, without pay but with time flexibility.
My volunteer work did not include rotary until my move to San Diego. Like so many others, Maureen Duncan was my introduction to rotary. We met at an MIT event through a mutual acquaintance a few months after I arrived and have been friends since.
Maureen and I traveled through a few different rotary clubs until we were steered to a developing new online club We joined Marian Pavlovich and David Ballesteros on their quest to chart this new club and the rest is history. Our e-club is small but with a huge heart. Our focus is more on service than social or networking. We have been awarded numerous global and district grants in the short time we have been charted. We are a little different but we do meet the needs for people who want to get involved in service but have travel or time restrictions. Check us out at our next online meeting!