Biography - Isaac Owolabi
Isaac Owolabi, Ph.D.
Past District Governor 2018-19, Rotary District 7670
Rotary Club of Asheville-Biltmore, North Carolina, USA
On June 16, 2018, Isaac Owolabi was installed as District Governor of Rotary International for Western North Carolina District 7670. As Governor, Isaac was responsible for the management and direction of 48 regional Rotary Clubs with over 2,200 members. He served as District Governor during the 2018-19 Rotary Year with an International Presidential theme of “Be the Inspiration”.
Isaac is from Rotary Club of Asheville-Biltmore, a resident of Asheville, and a Professor of Business/Marketing at Montreat College. He has been a Rotarian for over 29 years with perfect attendance. He has served in numerous Rotary positions at both club and district levels. He is a graduate of Rotary Leadership Institute (RLI), an RLI Faculty member, and a multiple Paul Harris Fellow. Isaac has served as keynote speaker in Zone 33-34 in VA in 2018, District Conference D6920 in 2019, and in District clubs in D6950, D7750 and D7670.
Isaac came to the USA from Kwara State, Nigeria at the age of 25, where he had taught high school Math and Physics. He earned his Bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin - Stout. Continuing his graduate studies, Isaac earned his Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota in 1988. He has 12 years of academic administration experience and has taught a wide range of undergraduate and graduate marketing courses for over 30 years.
In addition, Isaac has served as a member of many organizations, including Chamber of Commerce, Toastmasters International, the Marketing Education Association, and many others during his career. He is an ordained minister and is married to Abigail M. Owolabi. Both are blessed with four grown children and one grandchild.
Biography - Chris Wells
Rotaractor, DRR District 1070
Market Harborough, England, UK
Chris Wells countered the inevitable existential bothering of his postgraduate 20s by founding a Rotaract club in his hometown of Market Harborough, England. Working with local Rotary, this blossomed into a new breed of Contemporary Rotaract club; something that may be the future of Rotary with all of the awesome DOGOODERY it can bring.
After becoming DRR of District 1070, Chris helped bring that contemporary model to a successful larger scale, hoping to grow it even further into the future. This success was turbo-fuelled this year when he was invited to speak at the International Rotary Convention in Hamburg to tens of thousands of people. He also recently become a Paul Harris Fellow and is terrified of losing the pin.
When he isn’t Rotaracting, Chris works for the Go Make A Difference Charity which shares and develops effective thinking tools to under 25s.
Biography - Holger Knaack, President-Elect
President-Elect, Rotary International
Rotary Club of Herzogtum Lauenburg-Molln, Germany
Knaack is the CEO of Knaack KG, a real estate company. He was previously a partner and general manager of Knaack Enterprises, a 125-year-old family business.
He is a founding member of the Civic Foundation of the City of Ratzeburg and served as president of the Golf-Club Gut Grambek. Knaack is also the founder and chair of the Karl Adam Foundation.
A Rotary member since 1992, Knaack has served Rotary as treasurer, director, moderator, member and chair of several committees, representative for the Council on Legislation, zone coordinator, training leader, and district governor.
He is an endowment/major gifts adviser and was co-chair of the Host Organization Committee for the 2019 Rotary International Convention in Hamburg.
Knaack and his wife, Susanne, are Major Donors to The Rotary Foundation and members of the Bequest Society.
Biography - Diane Kessel Knight
Diane Kessel Knight
Past District Governor 2004-05, Rotary District 5440
Rotary Club of Fort Collins-Breakfast, Colorado, USA
Diane is a third-generation Rotarian who joined Rotary in Addison, Texas in 1990. She has also been in Rotary clubs in Naperville, IL, Golden, CO, and Fort Collins (CO) Breakfast. She has served both the Golden Club and the Fort Collins Breakfast Club as President. She served as District Governor in 2004-2005. She is a Major Donor to the Rotary Foundation and member of the Paul Harris Society and Rotary International Foundation Bequest Society.
Diane led a Group Study Exchange Team to Sao Paulo, Brazil in 1998. She also has a passion for RYLA and has been active in three International RYLA conferences and chaired the first “Young RYLA” program for middle school students in District 5440/5450.
She has a special interest in training Rotarians at all levels. She has trained and spoken at many PETS conferences. She has also trained District Governors Nominee and Elect at Zone Institutes and served as an International Training Leader for incoming District Governors in 2010 and 2011.
In one of her most memorable Rotary experiences, Diane participated in the Climb for Children 2000, a project of the Evergreen Rotary Foundation, where she raised over $20,000 and climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro, the highest point in Africa, to benefit a hospital in Arusha, Tanzania.
Diane was honored with Rotary International’s Service Above Self Award in 2002.
When not involved in Rotary activities, Diane is a leadership coach and consultant. In her spare time, she loves to play golf, ski and travel with her Rotarian husband, Paul.
Biography - PRID John Smarge
Past Rotary International Director 2010-12
Rotary Club of Naples
John Smarge has been a Rotarian and resident of Naples, Florida since 1982. His classification is Moving and Storage. John and his wife Cindy are Major Donors and Bequest Society Members.
John served as President of The Rotary Club of Naples in 1992-93 and as District 6960 Governor in 1995-96. He was a member of the Rotary International Board of Directors in 2010-2012 and Chairman of the Executive Committee, 2011-2012.
John has twice been a Delegate to the Council on Legislation and as a member of the RI President Nominating Committee. He has served as a Rotary International Membership Coordinator, Regional Rotary Foundation Coordinator, Rotary Coordinator Training Leader and as Chair of multiple RI Committees.
In 2018 – 2019, John served as the Aide to Rotary International President, Barry Rassin.
John has received numerous awards for his Rotary Service including the Rotary Foundation Citation for Meritorious Service, the Distinguished Service Award the Rotary International Service above Self Award and was recognized in 1999 as the District 6960 Rotarian of The Decade.
John is a past Board Chairman of the Naples YMCA and served as Director on the board of the Boy Scouts of America, Shelter for Abused Women, Naples Girls Sports Foundation and Southern Community Bank. John and Cindy have three daughters and one granddaughter.
Biography - Barry Rassin
Past President, Rotary International
Rotary Club of East Nassau, Bahamas
Barry Rassin is Past President of Rotary International, 2018-2019. The Theme for Rotary in his year as President was: Be The Inspiration.
He is the first Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives in The Bahamas and is retired as President after 38 years with Doctors Hospital Health System in Nassau, Bahamas but is still a Director. The organization grew significantly from 11 employees to 600 and was the first JCAHO (International) accredited hospital in the region.
He has been a member of the Rotary Club of East Nassau since 1980, President in 1987- 88, District Governor for 4040/7020 in 1991-92, Rotary International Director for 2006-08, a Trustee of The Rotary Foundation for 2016–17, and Vice Chairman in 2017. He has served on many initiatives in The Bahamas and is currently Chairman of Volunteer Bahamas, a national program to create a culture of volunteerism in the country.
He has served both Rotary International and The Rotary Foundation in many capacities such as Chairman of the Rotary International Finance Committee, and as RI training Leader and Seminar Trainer for Training Leaders.
Esther has always been a strong supporter of Barry’s Rotary efforts and is a Lifetime Honorary Member of the Rotary Club of East Nassau. Esther is a retired banker and a strong advocate for family values. She is a recipient of the Sir Durward Knowles Humanitarian Award.
Barry coordinated the Rotary disaster relief efforts in Haiti following the 2010 Earthquake. Rotary raised $6.5 million and completed 105 projects in Haiti after the earthquake. He is now on the Bahamas Rotary Disaster Relief Committee following Hurricane Dorian.
Barry has received the Service Above Self Award from Rotary International. He was recognized with the National Award of Health Hero by the Bahamas Ministry of Health and PAHO and the Healthcare Development Leadership Award from Healthcare Development Magazine and is listed in the second volume of Legends in The Bahamas. He was recognized by the Order of Malta with the Grand Cross Pro Merito and received The Bahamas Icon Award for Commerce. In 2018 he was awarded by The Government the national recognition as an Officer of the Order of Distinction of The Bahamas.