Recent Speakers

October 10, 2018

Cindy Stein, SIU Women’s Basketball Coach was our speaker. She is always upbeat about her team and SIU sports in general. Coach Stein mentioned that the negative press that SIU has endured for the last several years has had a negative effect on recruiting. However, she still has a top-flight team that she expects will be very competitive this year. In addition to playing basketball the teams grade point average has improved from the mid-2’s to the high-3’s. There are players that are studying in the STEM fields which are challenging under the best of circumstances and doubly so when the student is also an athlete. One thing she stresses with her team members is the need to be leaders on the court and in the community

November 1

Our speaker was Marc Kiehna who is on the Bicentennial Commission for the State of Illinois. Marc is past president of the Red Bud Rotary Club and is an Assistant Governor of Rotary District 9510. He discussed a very interesting program that his club created called “The Randolph Society”. This year they inducted a diverse group of historical figures in their community over the past 200 years. Marc also talked about the “Stars” program for the state’s bicentennial. For our community, we are asked to recognize five individuals who, through their actions lived out the Rotary Creed of “Service Above Self”. The people do not need to have been Rotarians, but must be deceased.
















October 25

On October 25th, former club member, Regina Glover, who is the current board chair of the Boys & Girls Club of Carbondale, provided a brief history of the organization in our community and the important role it plays in supporting youth in the area.











October 18

Club members, Ginger Murray and Mike Neil, led an interesting discussion on personal finance planning in the current market environment.

October 11

Tony Laubach of WSIL TV shared his experience as a “Weather Warrior”. He has been chasing storms all over the country for twenty years. He has a particular fondness for hail storms. Tony showed a video of a hail storm he recorded in Texas that did serious damage to his rental car with an onslaught of baseball-sized hail. He has also performed research on tornados in an effort to improve building standards. It was a fun and interesting program.













October 4

On October 4th, Trent Mohlenbrock, owner of Changing Seasons Landscape Center in Marion, addressed the many concerns related to caring for our own yards as we approach winter. He also discussed issues related to our current drought. Trent is the husband of former Rotary Club of Carbondale President, Beth Mohlenbrock. Trent also designed the “Eclipse Over Little Egypt 2017” t-shirts which were a big hit at our eclipse fundraising booth. Trent and Beth provided the t-shirts and allowed the Club to keep all profits received from selling them.















September 27

Michelle Sirles, a managing family member of Rendleman Orchards, discussed the history, growth and on-going seasonal business of one of the regions largest orchards. Michelle shared fresh apples and delicious pumpkin spice donuts with us following her presentation. Rendleman Orchards has been recognized as a Centennial Family Farm by the State of Illinois for continuous family-owned operations for over 100 years.
















September 20

Our main speaker was new SIU Chancellor Carlo Montemagno. He provided an overview of his thoughts concerning the future of SIU. Dr. Montemagno said that in his reading of the SIU history, he noted that about every 50 years the University goes through some major change. We are now in one of those periods. He believes this is caused by changes outside the University, but are issues to which we must adapt in order to thrive in the 21st century. Among his plans for the Southern Illinois University is a sharper focus on student recruitment, the student experience and student retention. He was confident that SIU Carbondale is, and will remain, the flagship campus of the SIU system. Dr. Montemagno is excited by the opportunities at SIU, and he volunteered to return in the spring to give an update on his progress.
















At the September 20th meeting, we reinstated the tradition of classification talks with Ginger Murray who offered a thumbnail sketch of her life and career. A Carbondale native, she and her husband have two daughters. One is a third-year medical student at SIU and the other is pursuing a degree in nursing. Ginger has spent about 40 years in the world of investing with a focus on retirement planning. She is a vise president at Wells Fargo and has actually spent her professional career with the firm although is has not always been part of Wells Fargo.

September 13

GUM Drops Program founder, Amy Simpson, was our speaker at the September 13th meeting. Amy told us about the genesis of her idea to help children with food insecurity that now assists more than 1,300 southern Illinois students. This vital program has become a model for similar efforts in St. Louis, greater Missouri, and other locations around the country.

September 6

On September 6th, the Club enjoyed hearing from Kari Thompson, the new SIU Women’s Volleyball Coach. Kari shared her path to coaching beginning as a student athlete studying architecture, to coaching at North Dakota State University, and now to her position as head coach of a promising young team at SIU.

On August 9th, the Club had the opportunity to hear from Curt Jones, founder of “Dippin’ Dots” and an alumnus of SIU. Curt shared with us his latest business venture, “40 Below Joe”, which is a frozen coffee edible (and drinkable). Curt stressed the value he places in creating businesses that offer jobs for the Southern Illinois region.

On August 2nd, James Chapman, founder of the Center for Empowerment and Justice, discussed the conditions of confinement at Illinois Department of Corrections facilities across the State of Illinois.

At our July 26th meeting, the Executive Director of Carbondale Main Street, Meghan Cole, provided an overview of the many activities and events this local organization supports throughout the year.

On June 14th, Cinnemon Wheeles-Smith and Diane Hood, with Carbondale Tourism, provided a review of the planning and preparation the City of Carbondale has undertaken to make the Eclipse of 2017 safe, exciting and memorable.

June 7 – Shalewa Balogun (left), our Inbound Exchange Student from Nigeria, gave an interested presentation on her homeland and her experiences in the United States over the past year. During her exchange experience in Carbondale, Shalewa was hosted by Tessie Ojewuyi and her daughter, Ore (right).

Our May 31st lunch meeting was held at the Carbondale Science Center. Chris Wells provided a demonstration and a tour of the Science Center.

On May 24th, Colleen Wieczorec talked about her AmeriCorps experience.

Our May 17 speaker was Lisa Jansen. Lisa provided an update about Carbondale Community Ar

At our May 10th, Ed Benyas, Music Director of the Southern Illinois Symphony and Professor at SIU, discussed the upcoming Southern Illinois Music Festival which will take place from May 26th through June 7th. More information may be found at



On April 19, Carolyn Donow provided an enjoyable presentation regarding the Friends of McLeod Summer Playhouse and its show line-up for the season. Teacher Betsy Brown of Carbondale Middle School brought her talented group of students to our April 26 lunch meeting. We were delighted by the presentations the students put together as part of their History Fair competition. Betsy’s teams have represented our community in both state and national history fair competitions.

On April 19, Carolyn Donow provided an enjoyable presentation regarding the Friends of McLeod Summer Playhouse and its show line-up for the season.


On March 8, Molly Maxwell and J.D. Tanner shared details of a mountain bike trail system at Touch of Nature. This exciting new facility will offer trails and stunt areas for riders of all ages and skill levels. This will be a world-class outdoor facility that attracts mountain bikers from throughout the Midwest. On March 15, J.D. Tanner returned to provide information on the progress of Camp Beta, a new outdoor experience offering by Touch of Nature for the children of Southern Illinois.

On February 22, Trent Mohlenbrock, owner of Changing Seasons Landscape Center, presided over an interesting and informative discussion on lawn & garden topics as we eagerly approach spring.

On February 22, Trent Mohlenbrock, owner of Changing Seasons Landscape Center, presided over an interesting and informative discussion on lawn & garden topics as we eagerly approach spring.

On February 1st, Cindy Buys, a member who is a professor at the SIU School of Law, moderated a Q&A on issues associated with the recent Presidential Executive Order suspending the entry into the United States of foreign nationals from seven Muslim-majority countries.