Engaging Speakers

Amid breathtaking views from the 52nd floor of the prestigious Pyramid Club, as a Rotary Club of Philadelphia ‘Lunch Club’ member you will meet and hear renowned guest speakers during our lunch meetings such as Signe Wilkinson, Pulitzer Prize winning editorial cartoonist; Todd Hemperly, famed motivational speaker; and Derrick Pitts, world-class astronomer (pictured above center with members l. to r. Jeff Cabot, Hospitality Chair, and Kurt Stroemel, President). Follow all of our events on Facebook.

to be announced


June 6: Barry Johnson, from the U.S. World War One Centennial Commission, which was created by Congress in 2013 to provide public outreach, education programs, and commemorative events recognizing the 4.7 million veterans of America’s ‘most forgotten war.’  In 2014, Congress also authorized the Commission to create the first-ever National WWI Memorial in Washington D.C. Johnson emphasizes the importance of giving meaning to the events 100 years ago that fundamentally changed America. “The modern American nation that we know today really emerged from the first world war. We were a completely different country after the first world war and we remain so. It’s a largely forgotten generation and era, but they did their duty. We’re the beneficiaries of their sacrifice and their courage,” says Johnson.

May 2: Patrick Foley, CFP® and Kristin Hillsley, MBA, Baird financial advisors of the Foley Hillsley Group in Blue Bell, PA, spoke about the three things needed to increase the odds of happiness in retirement, and handed out their book Winning at Retirement: A Guide to Health, Wealth & Purpose in the Best Years of Your Life. The acclaimed how-to guide provides step-by-step instructions on practical matters like investing, Social Security, and Medicare, but also takes an entertaining and inspirational look at the quest for happiness in the post-work years.

April 18: Martha Sharkey, president and founder of TODAY is a Good Day, a nonprofit which provides personal, spiritual and financial support to families of premature babies during their time in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). 

April 4: Paul Quintavalla, District 7450 Governor (2018-19), provided an update on district matters as well as his vision and goals during his term, detailing many of the initiatives he has made and will continue to implement during his tenure. Through Rotary's Rotoplast program, which provides surgery to children with cleft lips and palates, Quintavalla has been on several missions to third world countries to provide volunteer support when doctors perform surgery.

March 21: Sue Livingston, Educational Coordinator at Epilepsy Foundation of Eastern PA, spoke on the understanding and awareness of people living with epilepsy, a chronic neurological condition characterized by recurrent seizures. With the myths and stigma associated with the disorder, the emotional weight of epilepsy can cause a greater loss of one’s quality of life than the seizures themselves. One of Sue’s passions about working with the Foundation is her involvement as the Medical Director for the EFEPA’s Camp Achieve, a week-long overnight camp for children and teens with epilepsy.

March 7: Andre Lekich, adventurer and world traveler, and founder of Ecco Adventures, which aims to provide travelers with authentic northern Italian experiences and ‘off the beaten path’ adventures.

February 21: Eda Skolnik from the Czech Republic and Romain Potgens from Belgium, students in the Rotary Youth Exchange program, spoke of their experiences while visiting the U.S. and living their home country.

February 7: Dr. June Bretz, organizational consultant to Philadelphia READS, a nonprofit which provides access to books and offers community programs for children and families to foster a love of reading and increase literacy in Philadelphia.

January 3: D.F. Pace, Peace Scholar and graduate of the Rotary Peace and Conflict Studies Fellowship, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand, was chosen from among thousands of applicants. As an attorney and Police Inspector in the nation's fourth largest police department, Capt. Pace focuses on balancing constitutional protections and civil rights with public safety. He currently heads the Philadelphia Police Department’s Police Board of Inquiry. In addition to his patrol experience, Pace has also held positions in the Law Department, as Judge Advocate, Police Academy Instructor, Public Information Officer and Commanding Officer of the Court Evidence Unit. He considered his involvement in the Rotary Peace Fellow Certificate Program to be “on a par with that at the FBI National Academy,” and the training gave him skills and insights that has influenced and been applied throughout his career in law enforcement.

December 6: Dr. Michele Meltzer, a Jefferson University rheumatologist and founder of Rheumatology for All, whose mission is to increase access to rheumatology care and create self-sustaining rheumatology training programs, and funding education of local physicians in under-resourced regions. Dr. Meltzer spoke of the hospital/clinic located in Ethiopia, where the population is over a hundred million with no practicing rheumatologist. Although disability generally increases with age, rheumatic diseases are among the leading causes of disability worldwide, and often affect children and adults in their prime. In addition to needless suffering resulting in under or un-employment or even mortality, the practical effect of the lack of rheumatology expertise is profound. 

November 15: Signe Wilkinson, award-winning editorial cartoonist and lecturer, and the first female to win the Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Cartooning. Wilkinson’s work appears in the Philadelphia Inquirer, Daily News, Philly.com, and other online sources, and has been syndicated into 100 other newspapers across the USA. She states that her proudest achievement was being named "the Pennsylvania State Vegetable Substitute" by a former speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.

November 1: Derrick Pitts, Chief Astronomer and Planetarium Director for the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, has held numerous positions in academic and community organizations. Pitts has been the recipient of numerous awards, including being selected as one of the “50 Most Important Blacks in Research Science,” recognized with one of Philadelphia’s highest honors, the “Liberty Bell Award” and declared as a "Philadelphia Hero" for his contribution to educating and exposing children to the sciences. Active in the community, Pitts advocates for the need to prepare young people for a far different and challenging future by giving all children access to an equal education.

October 18: Anthony Stover, Community Relations Manager for the Philadelphia Ronald McDonald House, which provides temporary lodging, transportation, meals, and social services to families of seriously ill children being treated at local hospitals, creating a community of comfort and hope. The Philadelphia Ronald McDonald House has grown from a single idea to the model for over 350 houses in 38 countries.

September 20: Mike Marrone, Liguori Academy President, shared the mission of the school, while Jeff Wilson from the Central Pennsylvania Scholarship Fund talked about the importance of the PA tax credit program. The Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit (OSTC) allows individuals and businesses to turn their tax dollars into scholarships, giving tax payers the opportunity to CHOOSE how their money gets spent. OSTC has enabled the school to provide tuition assistance to more than 90% of their students. 

Sept. 6: Sarah Locklund,  manager of outreach and education for Herbology, a medical cannabis dispensary offering holistic services. Sarah has travelled extensively in Latin America, working on farms and cultivating medicinal herbs, helping those in need by spreading knowledge about holistic healthcare. Her presentation covered the science, facts, and laws associated with medical cannabis, as well as the application process for getting a medical marijuana ID card in Pennsylvania.

August 16: Chris Gasperi, co-founder of Ekenywa, spoke about his non-profit’s mission to provide clean water and sanitation to break the cycle of poverty in schools and communities in Kenya. Chris was born, raised and educated in Philadelphia, but with his wife and family left a comfortable American life to dedicate themselves to raising the quality of life of others in need.

July 19: Todd Hemperly, a motivational speaker whose upbeat message inspires and gives hope to the world about how to cope with challenges. Born with no arms, deformed legs and a host of other disabilities, Todd shares his belief that “Impossible is not a word, it's a self imposed prison!”  

July 12: Dana Dobson, an award-winning public relations expert and author of How to Reach Millions with Artful PR. Over her 30-year career, she has developed winning PR strategies for both Fortune 500 companies and small business owners to solve their two biggest marketing challenges — how to get the word out, and how to bring the leads in. 

Interested at speaking at one of our meetings? Apply here.