Category Archives: Guest Speaker

Tabitha Christopher: Author, Speaker, Storyteller

Tonight the club had the great pleasure and honor to host Author, Speaker and Storyteller Tabitha Christopher. Tabitha was born and raise on St. Thomas on the US Virgin Islands and her tumultuous upbringing allowed her to harness the power of story telling to not only share her amazing story of overcoming obstacles, learning forgiveness and self love but also help spread her inspiritional message  to the Youth. Tabitha has worked with the three Rotary Clubs of Simi Valley for several years in a row now attending and speaking out the annual Youth Empowerment Summit (YES!) and has a new show “My Secrets and the Power of Forgiveness” she is currently touring nation wide. To learn more about her amazing story please visit:

Lara Satler : Rotary Youth Exchange Program

The club hosted Lara Satler tonight, a participant in the Rotary Youth Exchange Program. Born and raised in Brasil, Lara prepared a fantastic presentation about her home and took the club on an amazing, colorful and often quite humorous adventure to the cities, jungles and cultures of Brasil. Lara did a great job of detailing the processes through which you qualify for the Rotary Youth Exchange Program, how you choose your country, and how spending a year in the United States has changed her life forever.


To learn more about the Rotary Youth Exchange Programs please visit:

David Ralphe – Simi Valley Cultural Arts Center General Manager

The club had the pleasure of hosting David Ralphe, Simi Valley Cultural Arts Center General Manager, as their speaker tonight. Mr. Ralphe is a life long thespian and has spent the last twenty plus years build, develop and grow the arts right here in Simi Valley. Mr. Ralphe shared with the club the rich history of the building the Cultural Arts Center calls home, as well some of the biggest challenges and successes in his drive to bring and grow the arts in Simi Valley. For more information on the Cultural Arts Center please visit:

805 Boot Camp: Randy and Sarita Shoemaker

The club has the pleasure of hosting Randy and Sarita Shoemaker, owners of 805 Boot Camp. While Randy discussed with the club various ways to get moving, stay moving and the ways we can remain active even as we get older and the more high intensity activities stop being the best option for staying fit, Sarita was preparing a delicious vegan lentil stew. Sarita reviewed the recipe with the club and using her amazing pressure cooker was able to put together and fully cook her amazing stew in just over 12 minutes while she and Randy presented and answered questions.

To learn more about Randy and Sarita Shoemaker and their business visit:

Dr. Cynthia Conway, OTD, OTR/L, BCBA

The club has an offsite meeting at Platinum Gym tonight where our very own, Dr. Cynthia Conway, OTD, OTR/L, BCBA presented to the club on the amazing work she and her staff do at this facility. Aside from being a fully operational gym, this facility allows Dr. Conway to work with patients with a variety of disabilities: from children on the spectrum to children with chromosome abnormalities, neurological impairments, genetic disorders, physical impairments, cerebral palsy and sensory integration dysfunction. Dr. Conway has a comprehensive approach to help children, their families and caregivers approach and manager the disabilities of her patients with amazing results. After her presentation the club had the opportunity to meet two of her patients and their families to see the results of her work first hand and hear from the parents of these children and just how much they value the work Dr. Conway is doing.

Craig & Michelle Foster: Rotary International Projects & Peru

The club had the great pleasure of hosting world travelers Craig & Michelle Forster as our guest speakers. The purpose of their presentation was the excitement, uncertainty and reward that await Rotarians who are willing to undertake an international project which requires them to visit another country.

Craig & Michelle share with the club their multiple visits to Peru to help first vet and establish communications with a local Rotary Club and then subsequent visits to inspect the work on the project and visit friends made along the way. On the initial visit only two Rotarians were asked to go so Craig asking a friend of his (who spoke six languages) to accompany him to Peru in order to make this first visit an easy one. It wasn’t until they were comfortably seated and well into their flight that Craig realize his friend sitting next to him had a Spanish dictionary out and was attempting to learn some basic Spanish. To his dismay Craig realized, Spanish was not one of the six languages his friend spoke.

Craig has no need to fear for the receiving Rotarians were exceeding gracious and welcoming and it quickly became apparent these were trustworthy people very seriously dedicated to their project.

Michelle shared with the club the rewards of going a few years later with Craig and several other Rotarians in tow to help work on the actual project and just how amazing (and completely outside of everyone’s comfort zones) the trip was. From culture shock, to the beauty of Rotary on a global scale to the testament of human kindness and cooperation the trip was a success and a great memory to carry with them.

Through cooperation and trust local Rotary Clubs can have a tremendous impacts in nations all over the world.

Nambowa Ruth Bulyba & Kasozi Daniel: Another Hope Children’s Ministries

Our guest speakers tonight were Ruth and Daniel from Another Hope Children’s Ministries. The aim of their organization if to end child trafficking in Uganda. They currently maintain and support a child home for displaced children housing between 50-100 children at any given time. They are currently located in Wakiso district in Kampala, Uganda.

The organization was founded by Ruth in 2005 as a direct result of the very challenging upbringing she had to endure. Both of her sisters got married around 13-14 years of age, because they had no prospects of education. They were both beaten when married so Ruth was very scared of the prospect of marriage as her only knowledge of married life came her the terrible experience her two sisters were having as child brides.

Ruth was determined to not get married before she had a good education and a good prospect for a husband. She was able to obtain her Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in statistics through a lot of hard work.

After graduating she opened an an orphanage for abused, mistreated and abandoned children, but as the scope of her mission grew she transitioned into the organization she and her husband Daniel lead today. It was tough going as they had to get very creative with how to fund their project. They began teaching the children different traditional trades such as making jewelry and sold these items in order to fund raise for their organization.

Ruth shared some of the success stories they have been abke to accomplish through these efforts, like Nawati, a 16 year old girl who was rescued from forced labor and currently helps with the ministries and is learning how to do hair dressing so that she may be able to support herself once she leaves the organization.

The focus of Ruth and Daniel’s organization has evolved over the years since its inception but now focuses on providing vocational training to children. Particularly the age groups of 12-21 years oldso that with these vocational skills they will have the opportunity to be self sufficient in their communities and grow.

In closing Daniel shared the following qoute with our club:

“[We want to] Help change the mind set of the society; success does have to mean doctors or lawyers. It can be a hair dresser, electrician, etc. In some cases these vocations allow them to make even more money than doctors!”




Mark Varela: Directory and Chief Probation Officer for the City of Ventura

Our guest speaker tonight was Mark Varela: Directory and Chief Probation Officer for the City of Ventura. Mr. Varela had a fact driven presentation shedding light on exactly what and how the probation process for youth and adult offenders in Ventura works. The speech was filled with fascinating facets of information that only a veteran in this particular line of work could deliver. Mr Varela’s presentation had a very positive tone and a focus on helping people who are going through probation or have gone through it to remain valuable, productive members of our communities once their time is served.


Duke Blackwood – Executive Director of the Ronald Reagan Library

Tonight the club had the great pleasure of having Duke Blackwood, Executive Director of the Ronald Reagan Library as our guest speaker. Mr. Blackwood entertained the club with library trivia (including their unusual way of keeping their grass trimmed – it involves a lot of goats), as well describe to us in detail the painstaking logistics that had to take place to ensure Mrs. Reagan’s funeral ceremony went off without a hitch. Mr. Blackwood shared with us a very powerful story of the handpicked honor guard standing around Mrs. Reagan’s casket as it lay in repose with a tremendous storm going on around these soldiers. They are, at no time and for no reason, to leave their post, yet in the middle of the rain and wind the flag pole bearing the US flag leaned over and fell, breaking in the process. Another protocol that must be strictly observed is that the flag must never touch the ground. Against the elements and at the risk of great reprimand, one of the brave soldiers broke post and picked up and cleaned up the US flag laying on the grown and then returned to his post with it. An officer quickly relieved the soldier of the flag and ensured it was properly placed once again. This great moment, Mr. Blackwood shared with us, is what makes working at the library so special – such treasured moments of unexpected life. Mr. Blackwood also shared with the club his great pride in the Situation Room that exists within the library and how successful the exercises within this room have been and how eager he is to see these exercises become available to the general public once testing is completed later this year.




Cabrillo Music Theater

Representatives from the Cabrillo Music Theater were our guest speakers tonight. They discussed with us their upcoming season which includes the productions of Evita, Sister Act, and Peter Pan. They also entertained the club with two songs from the last show of their current season – The Little Mermaid. As always the talented, young performers stunned the club with their amazing voices. For more information on the Cabrillo Music Theater please visits: