By Tricia Reardon

Perhaps it was a sliding doors moment when Amanda, as an elite track athlete in Brisbane in 2007/8 met a young American Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar and agreed to accompany him to several Rotary events prior his return to California. She’d never heard of Rotary up to that point. Fast-forward to 2018 and Amanda, as a member of the Rotary International Communications Committee, was invited by RI President Barry Rassin to address International Assembly in San Diego on how to attract, engage and activate millennials. Seated in the front row was the American Ambassadorial Scholar who had first introduced her to Rotary.

But that is exactly what happens in Rotary … people connect and build life-long friendships. And it is this that Amanda has enjoyed so much about her Rotary journey. While she only joined in 2010 – not a long time some would consider given what’s ahead for her in 2022-23 – Amanda has amassed an incredible depth of experiences at club, district and even international levels. Her Rotary CV reads a little like her career CV, but then that’s not surprising, as there has been a common thread running through both. Communication, connection, trust and relevance weave through all she does.

This article won’t go into her successful Rotary and career experience, (readers can click here to read about that), but rather the vision that Amanda is forming for her role as District Governor 2022-23. As the youngest Governor for District 9800, it’s not surprising that one key focus will be on attracting younger people to Rotary. “They love causes, but want flexibility,” advises Amanda. “Giving them easy hands-on projects where they can see an immediate impact is what will attract them and expose them to Rotary.” The weekly Secondbite food collection at Prahran Market, championed by Bob Glindemann, is a standout example of such a project.

Added to this, Amanda is keen to encourage the idea of satellite clubs, ensuring the sponsoring club remains healthy and thriving, but providing flexibility of Rotary involvement for differing demographics, like Southbank’s CEO and Millennial Satellite Clubs.

Amanda’s final focus will be on how we can do fund raising to bring in the general public. She cites the example of the work Sue Foley has done with the Celtic Festival where 80% of participants were non-Rotarians. The publicity this gave Rotary, Australian Rotary Health and ‘Lift the Lid’ is where Amanda sees great opportunity. She is interested to see what else can be done at District level to encourage this type of activity, as well as collaboration between cluster groups to stage these events and hands-on projects. Encouraging clubs to think beyond their own club boundaries is something she feels is important so that Rotarians are able to see the broader Rotary world and possibilities to do good.  

Amanda will do things differently as Governor. She will still be working full-time whilst also committing to Rotary. She has observed the efficiencies that can be achieved through technology and strong lines of communication and collaboration. She hopes this will encourage others to see that it is possible to take up Rotary leadership roles despite having busy lives.

Given all she has achieved so far, there is no doubting that DGN Amanda Wendt will bring a blend of energy and new thinking to the Governor’s role, while paying genuine homage to all who have gone before.