General Session: Friday Lunch
Host District(s): 5320
Sir Bruno Serato arrived in the U.S. from his native Italy speaking no English with only $200 in his pocket. Through hard work and determination, he worked his way up from busboy to owner of the critically acclaimed Anaheim White House restaurant, whose patrons include U.S. Presidents, sports stars, and celebrities.
But it’s his work with children that has earned him an international reputation. Serato launched the nonprofit in 2005 after he and his mother, Caterina, visited a local Boys and Girls Club. There, they saw a 7-year-old boy eating a bag of potato chips and when she learned that the snack was all he had for dinner, she instructed her son to head back to the restaurant and feed the children pasta. Through Caterina’s Club, he has done so each day since and today feeds some 2,000 children daily. More than 1 million meals have been served so far and the need keeps growing. His influence has extended far beyond Southern California to include Chicago, New York, Texas, Mexico, and Italy.
He has extended his mission by moving these “motel families” into permanent housing. While many of the families are working and able to pay the monthly rent for their own apartments, they cannot afford the first, last and security deposit required at the onset. He has already helped hundreds of families escape motel living by finding them apartments of their own and their lives have improved considerably.
His newest endeavor is working with the Anaheim School District to establish the Hospitality Program, which seeks to divert high school students from gangs and other bad influences by teaching them about the food, hospitality and service industries. The students receive hands-on experience and even paid internships in these areas so that they can explore careers in the field following graduation.
For his humanitarian work, Serato has earned international publicity including profiles in People Magazine, “CBS Evening News” and newspapers and magazines the world over. Among his many honors is being named a CNN Hero, being knighted by the Italian government, receiving a papal blessing from Pope Francis, getting a humanitarian award on the steps of the U.S. Capitol, being honored by the Good News Foundation and receiving numerous proclamations, Man of the Year awards and other forms of recognition — all of which he accepts to generate public awareness of the needs of our most vulnerable population – our children.
General Session: Friday Dinner
Host District(s): 5300 & 5330
John T Capps
General Session: Saturday Breakfast
Host District(s): 5500
John T. Capps is a local, national and international humanitarian. He shares his experiences as a keynote speaker with inspiration and humor as a person centered in altruistic opportunities. North Carolina’s Governor Jim Martin, presented their state’s highest citizen award, “The Order of the Long Leaf Pine”, to John T. for being a good Samaritian in eastern North Carolina.
He is the founder of the Bald Headed Men of America that is seen on national television. A Certified Emergency Disaster Volunteer with The Salvation Army, he served at Ground Zero World Trade Center after 9/11. He is a mentor at the Boys and Girls Clubs, a driver for Meals on Wheels and presenter at Rotary Conferences, Youth Leadership Camps, and RYLA/Interact programs. Additionally, he is a past-president of Hope Mission Christian Ministries serving the forgotten, homeless, working poor, recovering alcoholic and drug addicts.
A third generation Rotarian, John T. has attended 36 International Conventions, an alumni of The Rotary Foundation and for ten years a volunteer in India for Humanitarian and Polio Projects. The 2011 May issue of The Rotarian Magazine featured an article and cover story on John T.
He is a recipient of The Rotary Foundation’s Meritorious Service Award, Distinguished Service Award and International Service Award for a Polio-Free World. Additionally, John T. has received Rotary International’s Service Above Self Award. He and Jane are Major Donors and Benefactors of The Foundation.
He is a Third Degree Master Mason and Deacon in the Presbyterian Church. He and Jane have six ‘sons’, from India, Bangladesh and Philippines.
General Session: Saturday Lunch
Host District(s): 5240
Sylvia Whitlock, member of the Rotary Club of Claremont in District 5300, served as Governor of that District in 2012-13. Sylvia Whitlock was born in New York City and educated through high school, in Kingston, Jamaica. She earned an international baccalaureate degree from Cambridge University, England, has a B.A. in Psychology, M.A. in Education, and PhD in education from Claremont Graduate School. She additionally has a M.A. in Marriage and Family Therapy. Having spent many years as an educator and administrator, she began a second career as a therapist, licensed by the California Board of Behavioral Sciences. In 1982, while an elementary school Principal in Duarte, California, she was invited to join the history-making Ex-Rotary Club of Duarte.
Sylvia became President of that club in 1987, the year the United States Supreme Court ruled that the club be reinstated, making her the first woman in the Rotary World to head a club as President. She served as President twice along with holding every position in the club. She served in numerous District level positions and was awarded the Rotary Foundation District Service Award. She participated in National Immunization Days, established an AIDS clinic in Jamaica, supported an orphanage in Mexico, sank wells in Nigeria and raised almost $90,000 for Education for Girls in India. Sylvia is a multiple Paul Harris Fellow, Benefactor and Member of the Bequest Society of The Rotary Foundation. Sylvia has three adult children and considers raising her children the most satisfying and enjoyable job she has ever had – until her first grandchild, Dante Luigi, arrived this year. She likes tennis, the Stanford Cardinals football team and the Los Angeles baseball Angels. She is also a world traveler and has visited Rotary clubs throughout the US and in many foreign countries. She is proud of having had the opportunity to address the 530 Rotary world’s Governor Elects in San Diego in 2013.
Brenda Cressey, Trustee
General Session: Saturday Dinner
Host District(s): 5340
A Rotarian since 1989 Brenda served as District Governor in 2001-02. She is currently a member of the RC of Paso Robles, CA. Brenda served two terms as a Training Leader for the 530 incoming Governors around the world and keynote speaker at the Rotary International Assemblies in 2009-10 held in San Diego.
She was a member of the 2010 International Assembly Executive Committee for Rotary President Ray Klinginsmith and also served as Moderator for the Governor Partners Program and a speaker/trainer for the Future Vision Pilot Training.
Brenda also served twice as a District delegate to the Council on Legislation and consecutive 3-year terms as RI Regional Membership Coordinator and Regional Rotary Foundation Coordinator.
John Mathews, RI Director Zones 25/26
General Session: Sunday Brunch
Host District(s): 5280
John has been a Rotarian since 1988 and is a currently a member of the Rotary Club of Mercer Island, Washington. He served as District Governor for District 5030 in 2010-11 and is serving as the Rotary International Director for Zones 25/26 for the years 2017-19.
In addition to his work with Rotary, John has completed two successful careers. The first with the U.S. Navy for 20 years, retiring as a Commander in the Supply Corps. The second where he recently completed 25 years as a Senior Vice President with Costco Wholesale. Costco is an $110B company with 180,000 employees worldwide. While with Costco, John had responsibilities for all of the Human Resource and Risk Management functions.
While living in Seattle, John has been active in both corporate and community boards, including the Seattle Chamber of Commerce, The Advisory Board for the University of Washington Bothell, Mercer Island Presbyterian Church, Rotary First Harvest and NW Reinsurance.
John and his wife Mary Ellen, who is also a Rotarian have been active supporters of the Rotary Foundation. They have travelled internationally in support of foundation grants and polio immunization. They believe that some of the greatest gifts that Rotary brings to the world are our Peace Programs and the scholars that graduate from them. In support of those efforts, John and Mary Ellen have established the John and Mary Ellen Matthews Endowed Rotary Peace Fellowship.