(Evanston, IL, USA — 1 July 2007) — Wilfrid J. Wilkinson, a chartered accountant from Ontario, Canada, took office on July 1 as president of Rotary International, a volunteer service organization with more than 1.2 million members in more than 200 countries and geographical areas.
“Rotary allows ordinary people to do extraordinary things,” Wilkinson says. “Rotary makes it possible for an accountant from Canada to do a whole lot of things you wouldn't’t expect him to do.”
A Rotary member since 1962, Wilkinson is dedicated to the global effort to eradicate polio, Rotary’s top priority. He has traveled around the world, including Afghanistan’s rugged Khyber Pass, to immunize children against the crippling disease. Since the launch of Rotary’s Polio Plus program in 1985, Rotary members have helped to immunize more than two billion children in 122 countries, contributing about US$616 million and countless volunteer hours to the cause. Rotary is a spearheading partner in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, along with the World Health Organization, UNICEF and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In addition to polio eradication, Wilkinson will emphasize three other major humanitarian issues: literacy, hunger relief, and clean water. During his one-year term, Wilkinson will encourage Rotary clubs around the world to partner with local governments and non-governmental organizations to initiate projects that improve literacy rates and provide sustainable sources of food and clean water to communities in developing countries.
Wilkinson’s lifetime of volunteer service includes leading the Trenton Memorial Hospital fundraising committee, helping establish the Belleville Cheshire Home for Physically Handicapped Adults and serving as chairman of the board of Loyalist College and as president of the District Council of the Boy Scouts of Canada. Wilkinson also was part-time executive director of the Quinte Ballet School of Canada. Wilkinson and his wife Joan live in Trenton, Ontario, Canada. They have four sons
Near the end of his term, Wilkinson will host Rotary’s 2008 international convention, set for June 15-18 in Los Angeles. The convention is expected to draw about 20,000 Rotary members from around the world.