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About our Committee

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Kathy Gatterdam – District Youth Exchange Chair




Sema Thimmes – Inbound Student Chair


I was born and raised in Istanbul, Turkey. I came to District 6690 RYE as an inbound exchange student in 2003 to Lancaster, Ohio and hosted by the Lancaster Rotary Club. I stayed and continued my education at Ohio University. I’m currently a Rotarian with the Short North Rotary Club. My husband, Joshua and I have a dog name Oreo. We love to travel and try new things. I have two wonderful sisters that live in Charlotte, NC and a brother who is in Istanbul. I have been to almost 30 states in USA and travel to Italy and Mexico. I have been on the district 6690 committee for the past 6 years as a volunteer and recently took on this role as an inbound chair. I love the Rotary Youth Exchange program and the students. It changed my life.

 “Exchange isn’t a year in your life, it’s a life in a year.”

Itske Itske Miedema – Inbound Vice-Chair

Brooke Perin – Youth Exchange Scholarship (Long-Term) Outbound Chair

Hi!  Welcome to Rotary Youth Exchange!  In 1979 I participated in my first Rotary exchange program as a Short-Term to Mexico.  I had such a great time that I talked my parents into letting me join the Scholarship (Long-Term) program and spent 1980-81 living in Amagi, Japan.  I came back to Ohio and double majored in International Business and Japanese at Ohio State University.  After I graduated I found myself back in Japan for another two years, then I moved back to Columbus permanently.  During that time (about 16 years) I worked for Honda in both Japan and Ohio.  About a year after returning to the U.S. I got married to Doug, and we eventually had three daughters.  Two of them got involved in long-term youth exchange (Brazil 2013-14 and Japan 2014-15), and I found myself on the committee as a volunteer coordinating the monthly weekends.  Now I’m co-chairing the Scholarship (RYE Scholarship/Long- Term) exchange program with Ashley Wade.  My husband and I live in Dublin, Ohio, and in Fall 2015 all three of our kids will be in college so we’ll be empty nesters!  🙂  Since 2004 I’ve worked for an irrigation and landscape lighting distribution company as a lighting design specialist.  In my spare time I like photography and stained glass.  I look forward to meeting you!

Gail Himmelstein – Short-Term Chair

Becky Kronk – Weekend Chair

Marie Hurt – Language training developer


I’m a world languages teacher at Pickerington and former Rotary Youth Exchange student to Switzerland (1997-1998). I also taught abroad through the Fulbright program in Germany and is a supporter of global education for students in central Ohio. I have a Bachelors degree in international studies, a Masters in Education, and a PhD in Educational Leadership.


Judy Root – Treasurer


Passport Photo 2012

Rand Guebert – Compliance Officer

Having grown up near St. Louis, Missouri I am a Midwesterner at heart. But after going to university in Houston and Philadelphia, I worked in London and Geneva for 25 years for oil refining and marketing businesses. My wife, Deborah, and 29-year old daughter, Rachel, and I all became British citizens while living in London and my daughter went to high school in Geneva, so I feel that Rotary Youth Exchange is familiar ground for me.  Deborah and I have been in Ohio now for five years and I am currently working for a local social service agency.  I am planning to walk/run in the Columbus marathon in October and love to watch movies.  I also still enjoy a good discussion on energy issues or global warming.

JK Headshot

John Koetz – Committee Member





Walter Lundstrom – Committee Member

I was born in Burea, Sweden, and met my wife through Rotary in 1987. We first lived in Sweden and then moved to the US in 1989. From 2002-2004, we and our three  children lived on a sailboat and visited 5 continents and numerous countries.  Through the years, we have hosted more than 10 inbound students and each of them had a huge positive impact on our family. We consider them our international sons and daughters. In addition, all three of our children have become exchange students and the way they have grown from their exchanges is nothing short of magic. I believe Rotary Youth Exchange is one of the most life changing experiences a high school student can take on, and allowing their child to go on exchange, is one of the greatest gifts a parent can give to their son/daughter. I’m grateful that I have had the chance to work with hundreds of students over the last many years, helping them grow to those incredible people they were meant to be. To me, exchange students, are maybe the neatest young people in the world. In my life outside Rotary, I run my own business No More Phone Tag, Inc.


  • Upcoming Events

    1. 3rd Research Paper: OB Scholars

      April 12 @ 12:00 am - 11:30 pm
    2. April Training-Lancaster

      April 18 @ 1:30 pm - April 19 @ 8:30 am
    3. The 3rd research paper (due date for Short-Term outbounds only): “My host country”

      May 6 @ 11:00 pm - 11:55 pm
    4. The 4th research paper (only Rotary Scholars): “The invisible 90% of the iceberg”

      May 10 @ 11:00 pm - 11:55 pm
    5. May Student Weekend – District Conference

      May 15 @ 4:00 pm - May 16 @ 1:30 pm