Four International Humanitarians and Businesspeople to Speak in Northampton

Free presentation will focus on the speakers' work abroad and the support
they have each received from The Rotary Foundation

NORTHAMPTON - Four international humanitarians and businesspeople will talk at a free event on Oct. 27 at Union Station about how The Rotary Foundation impacted their lives and work and how they, in turn, paid it forward and changed the lives of others.

The presentation is part of the Partners in Rotary Service program, a new initiative of Rotary District 7890, which includes Western Massachusetts and Northern Connecticut. The partners are traveling from Brazil, Venezuela, Thailand and Nepal.

"We want to show people who donate what their money is going toward - what good is being done around the world in the name of The Rotary Foundation," said Alma Kruh, a member of the Simsbury-Granby, Conn, Rotary Club who is overseeing the partners program. "We can't all go overseas, and we wanted to be able to hear their stories first-hand as their messages are powerful."

The talk at Union Station Grand Ballroom, 125A Pleasant St., Northampton, is free and open to the public. It begins with a cash bar and networking from 5 to 6:30 p.m. with the program immediately following from 6:30 to 7:15 p.m. Cheese and crackers will be served, and appetizers and dinner can be ordered from the menu.

For more information, contact Jeff Smith, president of the Northampton Rotary Club, at 413-505-9926.

The speakers are:

Katia Dantas of Brazil. Dantas is the policy director for Latin America and Caribbean of the International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children. Dantas visited this district as part of The Rotary Foundation's Group Study Exchange program in 2006. She became a Peace Scholar at Duke University and graduated with honors from the University of Brasília and received a master's degree in international development policy from Duke. Dantas has also served as a health program assistant for USAID. In 2011, Diplomatic Courier magazine named her one of its "Top 99 under 33" foreign policy professionals.

Vanessa Harper of Hartford, Conn. Harper serves as vice-consul of the U.S. Embassy in Caracas, Venezuela. In 2008, she experienced Rotary firsthand when she traveled on a Group Study Exchange from this district to Sweden. Harper has also worked with the Japanese Ministry of Education to develop English-language high school curricula. Prior to her career as a diplomat, she worked in finance. Harper has a master's degree in international affairs from Columbia University and a bachelor's degree in international business and marketing from Georgetown University.

Chavengsak Leatritsirikul of Thailand. Leatritsirikul is the chief executive officer of Adex Autocraft Co., Ltd. An automotive industry executive, he worked for Toyota's Thailand division for nearly a decade before starting his own successful automotive interiors company. In 2009, Leatritsirikul was touched by The Rotary Foundation when he traveled to this district on a Group Study Exchange from Thailand. Today he is a member of the Rotary Club of Samrong, Thailand, where he serves on his club's Foundation Committee.

David Shakya of Nepal. Shakya is the business development manager of Media Nine in Kathmandu. He is a member of Rotaract in Nepal, a Rotary-sponsored club for adults ages 18-30 that meets twice a month to exchange ideas, plan activities and projects and socialize. He will talk about how that experience has shaped him. Shakya is a past district Rotaract Representative of District 3292, in Nepal and Bhutan. He worked to host the South Asian Regional Rotaract Conference and helped establish numerous Rotaract clubs throughout his district. He was invited to District 9710 in Australia, where he addressed their District Conference on the "Role of New Generation."

Kruh said the four visitors will be hosted in the district for two weeks, and they will speak at other Rotary clubs in the region as well. On Saturday, Nov. 1, they will also have the opportunity to visit the United Nations in New York as part of a district bus trip there.

"People may not know it, but Rotary International holds one of only two non-government seats in the UN," Kruh said, noting the other is the International Red Cross. "We are very excited about this."

She said roughly 100 Rotarians in the district will be on the bus trip.

To learn more about Rotary District 7890, visit

featured image courtesy of Joesph A. via Flickr under Creative Commons