Rotary International Leader Addresses Chamber on Ukraine Relief 

Rotary International Leader Addresses Chamber on Ukraine Relief 

As the war in Ukraine continues to fuel a humanitarian crisis of staggering proportions, Americans are looking for effective ways to help. In a special Ask the Expert virtual presentation, the Chamber welcomes Rotary International’s General Secretary John Hewko for a first-hand look at how the global organization has mobilized to provide aid for refugees.The invasion of Ukraine by Russia has led to an estimated 10 million individuals displaced from their homes, with more than 4 million fleeing to neighboring countries. At the same time, regional supply chains for food and fuel have been disrupted. With local affiliates established throughout the world, Rotary International was well positioned to channel emergency assistance directly to volunteers in Ukraine and border countries.

Through the Rotary Foundation’s Disaster Response Fund, designated Rotary districts in the affected areas can apply for grants of $25,000 to $50,000 to provide relief to refugees or other victims of the crisis including items such as water, food, shelter, medicine and clothing. As of mid-April, the fund has collected over $9.4 million in contributions. In addition, Rotary districts have joined forces to send cargo jets filled with medical supplies from Chicago to Ukraine distribution points.

Our guest speaker, John Hewko, is the general secretary and chief executive officer of Rotary International and The Rotary Foundation, leading a staff of 800 at Rotary’s World Headquarters and seven international offices. His professional journey includes extensive experience in Ukraine and Russia: Hewko was an international partner with the law firm Baker & McKenzie, where he helped establish the firm’s Moscow office and was the managing partner of its offices in Kyiv and Prague. 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. Hewko has been a public policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, an adjunct professor of law at Georgetown University, a visiting scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and a member of the Council of Foreign Relations. He and his wife Marga are both of Ukrainian descent.

The Chamber’s Ukraine Relief presentation will be held via Zoom on Wednesday, May 25 beginning at 12:00 noon.  Admission is complimentary; participants must register with the Chamber.  A link will be provided for those interested in donating to the Disaster Relief Fund.


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