PETS Speaker Bios

Shekhar Metha          

Rotary International President 2021 2022
Rotary Club of Calcutta Mahanagar


Shekhar Mehta is only the 4th Indian in 115 years to be nominated as the President of Rotary International for the year 2021-22.

Shekhar Mehta was born in 1959 in Kolkata India. A keen academician, he graduated from St. Xavier’s College, and has the unique combination of Masters in Commerce, a qualified Chartered Accountant, Cost Accountant and Company Secretary.

He heads the Skyline Group engaged in Real Estate Development in different parts of India, including the largest group housing in the state of Rajasthan.

He is member of many professional, cultural and charitable organizations.

He has served as trustee of

(i) Shelter Box (UK)

He is a trustee of

(ii) Operation Eyesight India, a Canada based organization.

Shekhar Mehta joined Rotary in 1985

He is a member of Rotary Calcutta Mahanagar.

    • He served as District Governor in 1999-2000 and was elevated to the Board of Directors of Rotary International for 2011-2013.

He has been Chairman of

    • Joint Partnership Committee of Rotary International
    • Strategic Planning Committee of Rotary International
    • Rotary India Literacy Mission.
    • Rotary Foundation India.
    • Rotary India Centennial Celebrations.
    • Rotary India Humanity Foundation.

He served as Director on the Board of Rotary International from 2011 to 2013.

While serving as Rotary International Director, he helped Rotary add 2 countries to its fold – Bhutan & Maldives.

Keenly dedicated to service, Shekhar Mehta has led many major service initiatives in India & South Asia. Some significant initiatives are:

    • Constructing 500 homes for Tsunami survivors at Andaman & Nicobar Islands.
    • Starting the Shelter Kit program in India which has served about 20 disasters distributing more than 15,000 Shelter Kits helping about 75,000 disaster victims.
    • He started saving little hearts a pediatric Heart Surgery Program – through this he has got done more than 2,500 heart surgeries for children from across India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal & African Countries. He also facilitated for the program to now become a National Program.
    • Conceptualizing nationwide T-E-A-C-H a literacy program in India having reached out to more than 50,000 Schools and 15 million children. T-E-A-C-H is a holistic program on literacy. Rotary is working on the T-E-A-C-H Program with the Central Government and many State Governments. The Program has been replicated in Nepal & Pakistan.
    • He has helped take the E-learning Program to millions of children through the television channels of Government of India. He is the architect of the Rotary Total Literacy Program of India.
    • He has been Instrumental in setting up more than 15 Eye Hospitals across India serving nearly 50,000 eye operations each year.
    • He started a scholarship program called UDAAN for marginalized children. Over last 10 years 1,000 scholarships have been given by his club.
    • Responding to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s national call – He has helped set up 6000 rural toilets benefitting 30,000 people.
    • Shekhar Mehta is spearheading an India-wide projects in collaboration with the Government of India, in the areas of Water, Sanitation, Literacy, Healthcare, Environment and Disaster Management. The result of these programs he professes will be “Rotary’s Role in Nation Building in India”.
    • The Prime Minister of India and various cabinet Ministers have applauded these mega initiatives of Rotary in India.

Shekhar Mehta is a motivational speaker. He has spoken at hundreds of events nationally and internationally.

His motivation skills are par excellence which has helped raise millions of dollars for The Rotary Foundation.

Shekhar.Mehta is recipient of the highest awards of Rotary International & The Rotary Foundation,

    1. “Service Above Self Award”
    2. “The Meritorious Service Award”
    3. “The Distinguished Service Award”

He will serve as the world leader of 1.2 million Rotarians in 200 countries and geographical areas in the year 2021-2022.

Shekhar Mehta is married to Rashi Mehta. She is a social worker and is a stage artist having performed in socially relevant plays across India.

They have a son Chiraag married to Geeta, a daughter Geeta and a grandson Veer.

His guiding mantra in life is “Service is the rent that we pay for the space we occupy on this earth”.


Valarie Wafer          

Rotary International Director 2020-22
Rotary Club of Collingwood South Georgian Bay


Valarie had a 27 year career as a restaurant owner in Toronto. The brand, Tim Hortons, is the most recognized and iconic franchise in Canada. The Wafer’s operation was best known for its inclusive hiring practices and accessibility, especially in the area of employment.

Valarie was governor of District 7070, which covers the greater Toronto area, in 2013/14. Now residing in Collingwood, her home club is the Rotary Club of Collingwood South Georgian Bay, District 7010. Valarie has continued to serve Rotary in a number of international roles. She is an international trainer, a member of the international convention committee, representative of the Rotary International President, and most recently has been elected to serve on the board of Rotary International 2020-2022

During Valarie’s tenure as a Rotarian she has participated and led many initiatives including a recent mission to Kosovo with Gift of Life International. She has also served as the Vocational Training Team leader to Australia in 2010 focusing on youth mental health, a national immunization day in India in 2012 and has travelled to Kenya and Tanzania to audit long term Rotary Foundation grant activity.

Valarie, and her husband of 33 years, Mark are Paul Harris Fellows, Bequest Society members and Major Donors to The Rotary Foundation.

Julia D. Phelps, Ed.D.

Rotary Foundation Trustee 2017-2020
Past Rotary International Director 2014-2016
Rotary Club of Amesbury, MA


Julia joined the Rotary Club of Amesbury, MA in 1997 and served as president of the club in 2001-02 and the club’s Foundation Chair (2016 – 2020).  She was active in the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA) program and hosted several Ambassadorial Scholars.  After serving as president, she was asked to train incoming presidents at NE Presidents-elect Training Seminar (PETS).  Julia served as a host counselor for a Youth Exchange.

She has served in several positions at the district level.  She worked on RYLA, served as Inbound Chair for Ambassadorial Scholars and was District Governor of District 7930 in 2007-2008.  She was the District’s Annual Giving Chair and the Chair for NE PETS.  Julia became District 7930’s Foundation Chair in July 2009 and led the district through the Future Vision Pilot.  She shared Future Vision insights at the New Orleans, Louisiana and Lisbon, Portugal International Conventions.

Julia has served as a Presidents Representative and the Rotary Foundation Alumni Chair (RFAC) for Zone 32.  Julia prepared governors-elect on the Foundation’s new grant model at the International Assembly in 2012 and 2013.  She served as International Director from 2014 – 2016 and in 2016 – 2017 was a member of the Operations Review Committee. Julia served as a member of RI’s Membership Committee from 2017 – 2019.  

In 2017, Julia was appointed as a Trustee of our Rotary Foundation where she served on the Foundation’s Stewardship Committee (Chair in 2019 – 2020) and the Executive Committee (2018 – 2020).  For two years, she’s served as the Trustee Liaison to the Leadership Development and Training Committee.  Always a supporter of Polio eradication efforts, Julia participated in an NID in January 2017 in Delhi, India. Currently, she’s the Vice-chair for the Basic Education and Literacy Major Gift Initiative Committee and Moderator for the training of regional leaders in 2022.

Julia is an active member of the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Rotary Action Group.  She serves on the Operation Team of WASH and chaired the World Water Summit 2017, 2018, 2019 and the Virtual Summit in 2020.  In January 2019, Julia participated in handing over toilet blocks and handwashing stations to a school of 1200 students in Nashik, India.  The Rotary Club of Amesbury, MA financially supported this project along with other clubs in the USA, Australia, and India.

Julia is the recipient of the Foundation’s Citation for Meritorious Service and Distinguished Service Award.  She and her husband, Steve McKenzie, who’s also a Rotarian are Majors Donors and charter members of the Bequest Society.  She is a Paul Harris Society member.  Julia is currently leading the Million Dollar Journey for the Rotary Foundation in District 7930. 

She’s retired from the Massachusetts Department of Education where she served as the Associate Commissioner for Curriculum and Instruction.  Steve McKenzie, her husband, and Julia live in Greenland, New Hampshire, USA.  Steve is the proud father of two children, Melissa and Stephen.  Steve and Julia are also the grandparents to Peyton, Zeth, River, Finn and Nate.  All their family members are Paul Harris Fellows.

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