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.

Why Arizona RLA?

There has never been a greater opportunity or a greater need for prepared leadership for Rotary. 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 in more countries than are represented in the United Nations now 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. No organization, though, can ever succeed beyond the vision and capabilities of its leadership. Rotary is no exception. 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 alliances, in most cases the task of equipping its 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 find and equip for district leadership the most capable and talented Rotarians within their widespread geographical boundaries, the District 5510 Leadership Academy was created in Rotary Year 2004-2005 as an exciting and innovative distance-learning approach to leadership development. In 2006-2007, the Academy was expanded to become an Arizona Tri-District Leadership Academy program for Districts 5490, 5500, and 5510 and it was governed by the Tri-District PETS committee. Through this vehicle, selected “Past” Club Presidents of Rotary clubs throughout Arizona were able to obtain exceptional training at home, via their own computers, under the guidance of some of our most capable and experienced Past District Governors and senior Rotarians from the Arizona Districts. They are able to work at their own pace and on their own schedules, within the guidelines of the program. We believe the primary objective of all district leadership is to help Rotary clubs succeed in accomplishing their own objectives and goals in meeting the needs of their communities and the world community.

In 2016-17, Districts 5495 and 5500 established a Memorandum of Understanding to coordinate and manage the academy. As a result, the academy has been and continues to be lead through the coordinated leadership of Districts 5495 and 5500. The academy courses are facilitated by our Districts’ most capable and experienced Past District Governors and senior Rotarians. Participants working online, will be able to work at their own pace and on their own schedules and explore a wide array of key Rotary leadership topics.

Each fall, nominated students begin the academy’s annual program with an orientation to our self-paced, computer-based online learning framework We believe the primary goal this academy is to expand the foundation of Rotary and district leadership resources, Rotary excited about being Rotarians and contributing to leading “service above self and doing good in their communities and the world.

Interested past club president, RLI graduate, or Rotarians wanting to be a leader beyond the club must be nominated by one of the following: Current District Governor, past District Governor, current Assistant Governor, a graduate of the Arizona RLA. The $50 tuition fee is due by September 1st, along with the signed Letter of Understanding and the Nomination Form. No refunds after September 15th.

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 orientation to the programs of TRF, how they relate to Rotary International, and how they can be accessed and utilized by Rotary clubs to accomplish their goals
  • 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
  • Club Membership Growth and Retention — examining what attracts people to Rotary and the dynamics that build Rotary clubs and keep members interested and active
  • 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 the answer. Through this vehicle, we feel we will be able to recruit and train our best from throughout our widespread Districts, and that we will be able to develop over the coming years a pool of better-equipped leaders, from which our future District Governors and other District leadership positions can be selected.

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 Dan Messersmith
District 5495
Building on a Heritage of Leadership & Accomplishments
PDG Ernie Montagne
District 5500
Understanding and Utilizing The Rotary Foundation 
Jay Schlum
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