Rotary emphasizes peace

Written by Sharon Raffer

Pictured L-R: Coronado Rotary President Rob Taylor, President-Elect LuAnn Miller, Fellow of Rotary Nancy Nguyen; Sharon Raffer, Co-Chair of Peace Projects; and District 5340 Governor and Coronado Rotarian Dan Gensler.

The Rotary Club of Coronado proudly celebrated Rotary International’s announcement of Nancy Nguyen’s selection as a Rotary Peace Fellow. She will attend the University of Queensland in Australia for the Masters in Peace and Conflict Studies, a fully funded 18-month program.

The conflict in Ukraine highlights the need for motivated individuals to put their energy and expertise at the service of world peace.

“It’s a real honor for us as a club and as a district,” said Rotary 5340 District Governor Dan Gensler. The district includes 61 Rotary clubs with 2,790 members in San Diego and Imperial Counties. Dan is a member of the Rotary Club of Coronado where he was named Rotarian of the Year in 2004 and served as President of Rotary of Coronado in 2006-07.

The Rotary Peace Fellowship is designed for leaders with professional experience in peace and development. Rotary scholars are engaged in community and international service and in the pursuit of peace. Each year, The Rotary Foundation awards up to 50 scholarships for master’s degrees and 80 for certificate studies at top universities.

“Many Rotary Fellows go on to careers in government, military, law enforcement, NGOs, and international organizations like the United Nations and the World Bank. The opportunities are truly endless for these students. says Dan.

“The work of actively building peace and understanding has been a hallmark of Rotary since its inception. With the establishment of the Rotary Peace Centers in 1999, we opened a bold new chapter in that history,” said John Germ, chairman of the Rotary International Foundation Board of Trustees. “This year marks the 20th anniversary of the inaugural class of Peace Fellows; the innovative program continues to merge a solid academic understanding of the roots of conflict with practical tactics for solving real-world problems.

Connection with Coronado Rotary

Last year, Nancy contacted Coronado Rotary and reached out to Past President Tami Sandke via email to apply for a Rotary scholarship and possible club sponsorship. This was followed by further contact with Sharon Raffer, co-chair of the Peace Projects Committee, LuAnn Miller, president-elect of Coronado Rotary, and Rob Taylor, president.

Through telephone and in-person conversations, Nancy demonstrated her excellent communication skills and engaging personality. Her background includes high-profile international, national and local experiences, including the creation of programs and policies focused on refugees, youth and community peacebuilding. Initiatives like those described above are strongly linked to Rotary’s advocacy of “Serving Above Self” to advance human rights and promote peace and goodwill.

The combination of Nancy’s academic and field experiences, along with her passion and ideas for the future, give her a solid foundation to meet the challenges that await her in a career as a peacemaker. Coronado Rotary became Nancy’s club sponsor and recommended that she log on and be interviewed by representatives from District 5340 and apply to Rotary International.

Nancy’s journey to becoming a Fellow of Rotary

Nancy was chosen from a pool of international applicants for this highly competitive program. Her current role is as Community Civic Engagement Organizer at the Partnership for Advancement of New Americans (PANA) in San Diego. As California’s busiest resettlement region and a border town in the world’s largest binational region, Nancy’s work at PANA allows her to be on the front line of refugee advocacy. For her work “fostering relationships with coalitions and organizations that work to advance immigrant and refugee issues locally and statewide,” she was recognized as a Woman of Distinction. 2021 in Youth Empowerment by the San Diego Mayor’s Office. Nancy is a 2019 graduate of San Diego State University, Honors College.

Nancy and her family at her graduation from San Diego State in 2019.

Nancy’s longstanding commitment to peace and international development is reflected in her years of international and local politics, advocacy, civic engagement and direct service work. She assisted an emergency influx of Oceanic Congolese refugees into a Ugandan refugee camp and facilitated cross-cultural understanding among students of diverse ethnicities, particularly Burmese and Thai refugees as a Princeton Asia Scholar. She has also published and presented international policy proposals to American diplomats. Initiatives like these are strongly tied to Rotary’s advocacy of “Serving Above Self” in promoting human rights and fostering peace and goodwill.

“My parents are refugees from Vietnam. They emigrated to the United States after the Vietnam War, and we grew up in a low-income neighborhood in the Bay Area. Community members there often had my parents’ refugee backgrounds. I didn’t know it at the time, but growing up around these community members with this experience has really fueled my passion for justice, especially in refugee and migrant communities,” said Nancy.

Scholarships and grants provide opportunities for young professionals

“It is so important that young people today are made aware of the opportunities available for scholarships, internships and organizations that develop volunteer experiences that bring goodwill and benefit others.“, said Coronado president-elect Luann Miller. “Nancy will be visiting Coronado Rotary in the coming years as we follow her journey as a Rotary Scholar at the University of Queensland. She will also work with us to connect with other young professionals in Rotary’s Rotaract clubs, colleges, and voluntary organizations to share scholarships and grants available to further their careers and experiences.

“Peace is more than the absence of conflict. It brings freedom, security and happiness. He is at the heart of Rotary’s mission and a driving force in efforts such as the eradication of poliomyelitis in all cultures and in areas of conflict. Looking ahead, the future of our world must be filled with creative ideas and incredible leadership from today’s youth. Rotary’s worldwide support has been and can continue to be invaluable. Rotary believes that if concerned citizens work together to create peace locally, lasting change can happen globally. I am excited to focus on this in our club and to connect more with Rotary International with this goal.

Imagine tomorrow; Together, Rotarians make things happen

“When an organization like Rotary dreams of big things like ending polio and creating peace, it becomes our responsibility to make them happen,” said Rotary International President-elect Jennifer Jones. You don’t imagine yesterday, you imagine tomorrow.

The Rotary Club of Coronado, through its Club Foundation, is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization and one of more than 46,000 clubs worldwide. Rotary, which today has 1.4 million members, was founded in 1905; the local club was established in 1926. Rotary’s areas of interest include promoting peace; fight against diseases, especially poliomyelitis; providing clean water, sanitation and hygiene; supporting education; save and improve the lives of mothers and children; growing economies; and environmental protection.

Make a difference for the good of others and our world, and for more information about Coronado Rotary, please visit the website Rotary Club of Coronado (

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