A New Way Forward

Jennifer Jones Nominated for
President of Rotary International

Story by Michael Seguin

What’s there to say about a woman like Jennifer Jones? Not nearly enough. Jennifer Jones has a long list of accolades and accomplishments. A graduate of the University of Windsor, Jennifer started her own television production company, Media Street Productions Inc., which the Windsor Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce once recognized as “Company of the Year.” It has also received 26 international awards for broadcasting excellence.

“I started the company 25 years ago,” Jennifer explains. “Which is amazing to me. It feels like 5 minutes have gone by. We started the company with the intention of not only profiting ourselves, but perhaps more importantly, profiting our community. We’ve provided support to countless small, medium and large companies throughout our region. We’ve helped them to flourish and grow and that’s been reciprocated.”

Aside from her professional roles, Jennifer is also a dedicated citizen and a proud member of the Rotary Club of Windsor-Roseland. In Rotary, Jennifer’s talents have strengthened Rotary reach and impact, through many roles including as Trustee of the Rotary Foundation, RI Vice President and co-chair of the End Polio Now: Make History Today campaign, raising funds alongside Bill and Melinda Gates and their Foundation.

Jennifer first became acquainted with Rotary as a Radio Reporter for CKLW.

RI Director-elect Jennifer Jones speaks about activating the message of Rotary’s brand during general session 3 at the International Assembly, San Diego, California, USA, 19 January 2015.

“The Rotary Club of Windsor 1918 was the largest club in our area,” Jennifer states. “I remember going to their meetings at a hotel down on Riverside Drive on the waterfront. I remember going into those meetings and being very intimidated. I was a young reporter, and here were all these incredible pillars of our community. All these businessmen that I looked up to and now, they’re all my dear friends.”

However, despite her interest in the organization, Rotary International was still closed to women.

“Allowing women into Rotary took a Supreme Court ruling in 1987,” Jennifer recalls. “Our organization was formed back in 1905 by a lawyer in the Chicago area named Paul Harris. Flash forward to 1987 and it took a number of legislative tumbles, if you will, to get to that point.”
Eventually, the rulings passed and Jennifer was asked to join the Rotary Club.

“I was asked to join in 1997,” Jennifer explains. “The Manager of the local cable station, Ross Milne, asked me if I would come to a local Rotary meeting. So, that day, I walked into the room and it was comprised of men and women. I knew maybe a couple of folks in the room, but I really felt that I had arrived home, at a very comfortable place, filled with people who were likeminded. I knew immediately that this was a space for me.”

Jennifer describes the Rotary as an organization of leaders who provide service to the community and the world.

“Our vision statement says that, together, we see a world where people unite and take action to create lasting change across the globe, in our communities and in ourselves,” Jennifer states. “And what I like about that statement is that those last two words really resonate with me. Lasting change within our communities and ourselves. Because Rotary is, regardless of what vocational background you come from, an opportunity for growth and development.”

Ultimately, Rotary is about taking in leaders and making them even better.

“There’s so many different ways we enhance ourselves in this organization,” Jennifer states. “Service is the common thread. Service and fellowship. People come to Rotary through many different paths but it’s because we want to do good in the world. There’s no secret handshake or anything like that. It’s all about what your passion point is. What kind of good do you want to do in the world?”

And over the last 23 years, Jennifer has done a great deal of good in the world. As one
of Rotary International’s most recognized communicators, she has presented keynote
addresses and training workshops at hundreds of conferences across North America, Russia, Panama, Thailand, Lisbon, Finland, India, Sri Lanka, Spain, Australia and Germany.

After only five years with the organization, Jennifer was named President of the Rotary Club of Windsor-Roseland. From there, she went on to serve as District Governor and later an International Director at Rotary International. And now, earlier this year, Jennifer was one of six candidates nominated to the President of Rotary International for the 2022-2023 term.

“We had finished a Zoom call with the nominating committee,” Jennifer states. “I had to wait about two or three hours as the interviews were conducted with the other candidates. They had made it clear that they would give us a call, regardless of the outcome. So, when my phone rang, I felt some apprehension. I was invited back onto Zoom. And then I was in stunned disbelief. I was so extraordinarily happy. I was very moved.”

As of October 1st, Jennifer officially became the uncontested President-Nominee. When she takes office, it will be the first time a woman has led the 115-year-old organization.

“For the last few years, I haven’t gone to an event where someone hasn’t asked, ‘When are we going to have a female president?’” Jennifer states. “There has been a palpable sense of people asking when this was going to happen. I’m very proud to have been selected as our first female president. But, I very much believe that I was selected for my qualifications, not my gender.”

And the response Jennifer has received from her fellow Rotarians has been nothing short of earthshaking.

“Rotary makes the world a very small community,” Jennifer states. “The response I’m getting from literally thousands and thousands of people around the world, has been very humbling and uplifting.”

Jennifer is excited to take the reins of the organization in the face of our uncertain

“I feel very privileged to have been selected at this point in time in history,” Jennifer states. “Going through this pandemic together is an opportunity to galvanize and strengthen our connections. I’m looking forward to helping many of our members to get through this period in our lives and come out stronger. We have the opportunity to support each other, protect each other and uplift each other. We can figure out a new way forward, together.”

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