2017 Conference Speakers

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Susan B. Neuman

Professor of Teaching and Learning at New York University

Past U.S. Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education

Fellow of the American Educational Research Association


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Susan B. Neuman is a Professor of Teaching and Learning at New York University specializing in teacher education and early literacy development.

Previously, she has been a Professor at the University of Michigan and has served as the U.S. Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education. In her role as Assistant Secretary, she established the Early Reading First program, the Early Childhood Educator Professional Development Program and was responsible for all activities in Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Act.

She has served on the IRA Board of Directors (2001-2003), and other numerous boards of non-profit organizations. She is currently the Editor of Reading Research Quarterly, the most prestigious journal in reading research.

Her research and teaching interests include early childhood policy, curriculum, and early reading instruction, pre K-grade 3 for children who live in poverty.

Neuman has received two life-time achievement awards for research in literacy development and is a Fellow of the American Educational Research Association. She has written over 100 articles, and authored and edited 11 books, including the Handbook of Early Literacy Research (Volumes I, II, III) with David Dickinson, “Changing the Odds for Children at Risk” (Teachers College Press, 2009) “Educating the Other America” (Brookes, 2008) and “Multimedia and Literacy Development (Taylor & Francis, 2008). Her most recent books are “Giving our children a fighting chance: Poverty literacy, and the development of information capital.” (Teachers College Press, 2012); and “All about Words: Improving vocabulary in the age of Common Core Standards, pre K-grade 2 (2014).

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Michael Angelo Caruso

Internationally Renowned Motivational Speaker and Communication Consultant

District Governor for Rotary District 6380 in SE Michigan and Ontario, Canada 2016-17


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Michael Angelo Caruso teaches presentation skills. He’s a valued communication consultant to companies and organizations all over the world. Mr. Caruso is founder and President of Edison House, an international consulting firm specializing in corporate and personal improvement.

Mr. Caruso is a "lifetime Rotarian" based in District 6380 and his home club is the Rotary Club of Troy, Michigan.

Mr. Caruso was introduced to Rotary via the Group Study Exchange program, now known at Vocational Training Teams.

"There was a long preparation period prior to the trip," says Michael, "And I learned more about Rotary in six months than most Rotarians learn in six years."

"I was so impressed with this great service organization, that I decided to join as soon as I got back from South Africa."

Michael has now been a Rotarian for over 20 years.

He's served many positions at the club level, including President of his club in Troy, Michigan in 2012-13, Public Image Chair and as District Governor for Rotary District 6380 in SE Michigan and Ontario, Canada 2016-17.

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Jennifer E. Jones

Rotary International Vice President 2016-17

Rotary Club of Windsor-Roseland Ontario, Canada

One of Rotary International’s most recognized communicators


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Jennifer is the President and CEO of Media Street Productions Inc., an award winning television production company in Windsor, ON. She is proud member of the Rotary Club of Windsor-Roseland and is a Past District Governor of District 6400. She served as the Vice President of Rotary International’s global board (2016-2017).

Jennifer also contributes much of her energy to local organizations. She is the immediate past Chair of the Board of Governors at the University of Windsor and the past Chair of the Board of Directors at the Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce. Her leadership also extends to serving on numerous boards and committees furthering the areas of health, education, social service, the arts, children’s mental health, mentorship and fundraising.

In Rotary, she has served as the Chair of the Strengthening Rotary’s Brand Advisory Committee, Moderator of the 2013 Coordinator Institute, Vice Chair of the RI Communication Committee, North American Public Image Coordinator, the Advisory Board for Rotary Canada.

One of Rotary International’s most recognized communicators, Jennifer has presented keynote addresses and training workshops at hundreds of conferences across North America and most recently in St Petersburg – Russia, Panama City, Bangkok, Lisbon, Finland, India, Sri Lanka, New Zealand, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Korea and Brazil.

She has been recognized with many awards and recognitions including Rotary’s Service above Self Award and the Citation for Meritorious Service, the YMCA Peace Medallion, the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal and Wayne State University’s Peacemaker of the Year Award – a first for a Canadian.

She and her husband, Nicholas Krayacich, are members of the Arch Klumph Society, Paul Harris Society, and Bequest Society of The Rotary Foundation.

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John Matthews

Rotary International Director Zones 25/26 2017-19

Rotary Club of Mercer Island, Washington

Commander U.S. Navy, Retired

Costco SVP for Human Resource and Risk Management (retired)


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John has been a Rotarian since 1988 and is a currently a member of the Rotary Club of Mercer Island, Washington. He served as District Governor for District 5030 in 2010-11 and has been selected to serve as the Rotary International Director for Zones 25/26 for the years 2017-19.

In addition to his work with Rotary, John has completed two successful careers. The first with the U.S. Navy for 20 years, retiring as a Commander in the Supply Corps. The second where he recently completed 25 years as a Senior Vice President with Costco Wholesale. Costco is a $110B company with 180,000 employees worldwide. While with Costco, John had responsibilities for all of the Human Resource and Risk Management functions.

While living in Seattle, John has been active in both corporate and community boards, including the Seattle Chamber of Commerce, The Advisory Board for the University of Washington Bothell, Mercer Island Presbyterian Church, Rotary First Harvest and NW Reinsurance.

John and his wife Mary Ellen, who is also a Rotarian have been active supporters of the Rotary Foundation. They have travelled internationally in support of foundation grants and polio immunization. They believe that some of the greatest gifts that Rotary brings to the world are our Peace Programs and the scholars that graduate from them. In support of those efforts, John and Mary Ellen have established the John and Mary Ellen Matthews Endowed Rotary Peace Fellowship.