The Arizona Rotary Leadership Academy is an exciting and innovative online learning approach to leadership development. Through this vehicle, selected Rotary Club Past-Presidents, RLI graduates, and Rotarians interested in leadership beyond the club can obtain exceptional training at home, via their computers, under the guidance of some of our most capable and experienced Past District Governors and senior Rotarians. They will be able to work at their own pace and on their own schedules, and prepare themselves for their next step in Rotary leadership.

Why Arizona RLA?

There has never been a greater opportunity or a greater need for Rotary to prepare its members for leadership. As the world’s oldest and most respected service organization, Rotary International has been solving problems and building bridges of friendship and relationships between leaders for more than one hundred years. Consequently, Rotary is increasingly recognized as the “Can-Do” organization that can get the job done when others have failed. Simultaneously, Rotary clearly understands that no organization will ever succeed beyond the vision and capabilities of its leadership. And since Rotary selects new leaders at most levels each year, the task of training and equipping its ever-changing leadership is a daunting one.

While the Rotary Club is the primary and most important element in Rotary, the Rotary District is the nearest and most essential resource and support to the Clubs. Throughout the world, Rotary clubs are grouped into Districts (approximately 530 of them), and Districts into paired Zones (34 of them). Each of these Districts must select a District Governor, who will be trained at the Zone and International levels, along with a considerable number of other experienced and knowledgeable resource leaders who can assist the Clubs in meeting their objectives and reaching their goals.

While some district leadership can be trained through multi-district partnerships, in most cases the task of training the District leadership team falls on each District. In Districts such as ours, that task is compounded by geographical distances that make it difficult, if not impossible, to bring together potential leaders in a central location on any kind of regular basis.

Consequently, the Arizona Rotary Leadership Academy has been born out of a need for a more effective way to bring together for training the best potential leaders for Arizona Districts from wherever they live throughout the state of Arizona.


Recognizing the increasing demands on Rotary leaders’ time, as well as each Rotary district’s need to identify and train Rotarians for district leadership roles, Rotarians took action. In 2004-05, District 5510 created a new and innovative online learning approach to Rotary leadership development: The Arizona Rotary Leadership Academy.

In 2006-07, the Academy was expanded to become an all Arizona program involving Districts 5490, 5500, and 5510 and governed by the Arizona Tri-District PETS committee. Through the academy’s nomination process, selected past club Presidents throughout Arizona were able to participate in exceptional online training at home via their own computers through the guidance of talented and experienced Past District Governors and senior Rotarians from Arizona districts. These students were able to work at their own pace on their own schedules within the academy program guidelines.

Following the 2016-17 reorganization, Districts 5495 and 5500 established a Memorandum of Understanding to coordinate and manage the academy. As a result, the academy has continued its work through this Rotary districts’ partnership. Annually, Past District Governors, current Governors, current Assistant Governors, and RLA graduates, nominate candidates for the academy. These nominees, past club Presidents, Rotary Leadership Institute (RLI) graduates, and Rotarians interested in leadership roles beyond their clubs are provided training which prepares them for the “next step,” a district leadership role.  

Each fall, the student participants begin the academy’s annual program with an orientation to our self-paced, computer-based online learning framework. The primary objectives of the academy are: (1) to expand the foundation of Rotary and district leadership, (2) to provide opportunities for excited and engaged Rotarians to expand their leadership talents, and (3) work within the parameters and constraints of Rotarians’ busy lives. This quality online training is facilitated by talented and experienced Past District Governors and senior Rotarians. Within the academy program guidelines, students are able to work at their own pace and on their own schedules.

The following courses will be offered during this Rotary year:

First Semester (September, October, and November):

  • The Rotary Brand — a basic overview of the Rotary branding and public image tools and efforts
  • Understanding and Utilizing The Rotary Foundation — An overview of The Rotary Foundation for District leaders: spending Foundation dollars, giving to the Rotary Foundation, reports you can use, goals, recognition of donors, District Designated Funds, and resources you can use in your District
  • Collaboration and Funding to Meet Needs — helping leaders to think outside the box regarding tackling and funding larger needs that are beyond the abilities and resources of a single club, and often require extending beyond a single Rotary year

Second Semester (January, February, and March):

  • Building on a Heritage of Leadership and Accomplishments — a review of who our district leaders have been and what we have accomplished thus far as a pace-setter district for the Rotary World
  • How to Succeed in Membership Growth and Retention — Rotary International has approved several new/innovative club membership types and club models. This course will draw on these changes to help your club restructure itself to succeed in changing lives in our communities and world.
  • Rotary’s Fiduciary Responsibilities, and Youth Protection — what are a Rotary club’s responsibilities to its members, its contributors, its community, the government, and to Rotary International? How can liabilities be evaluated and minimized?

Our Goal

Our Goal

The goal of the Academy is to provide a comprehensive and standardized preparation for District leadership that will give participants a better understanding of Rotary International, its structure, resources, and requirements, as well as an appreciation for our own Districts and their unique heritage of leadership in Rotary — and to be able to fit all of this into those Rotary leaders’ busy schedules.

We believe online learning is an answer. Through this vehicle, we will be able to recruit and train Rotarians interested in contributing to our districts’ leadership beyond their club. As a result, we will have an outstanding cadre of well-trained and well- prepared leaders for future District Governors and other District leadership positions.

We are convinced we are on the cutting edge of where Rotary must go develop its leadership. Welcome to our Arizona Rotary Leadership Academy! You can be assured that the Rotary World is watching what we are developing together here in Arizona through this cutting edge online learning concept than can reach out to all Rotarians across Arizona.

We wish you the best and look forward to your graduation.

The Dean and Faculty of the Arizona Rotary Leadership Academy


2020 – 2021 Faculty
Gene Medina
District 5500
PDG Sandy Goodsite
District 5500
Rotary’s Fiduciary Responsibilities
and Youth Protection
PDG Art Harrington
District 5495
Collaboration and Funding
to Meet Needs
PDG George Wheeler
District 5495
Building on a Heritage of Leadership & Accomplishments
PDG Ernie Montagne
District 5500
Understanding and Utilizing The Rotary Foundation
DGE Bret McKeand
District 5495
The Rotary Brand
PRID Phil Silvers
District 5500
Building on a Heritage of Leadership & Accomplishments 
Doug Woodard
District 5500
Membership Growth
and Retention
Past RLA Deans
PDG Chuck Fitzgerald
PDG Sandy Goodsite
Gerrit & Carolee Terpstra
PDG Art Harrington
PDG Gary Whiting
PDG Art Harrington