Those of us who are involved in the Rotary Youth Exchange program know what an impact we have on the lives of the young people involved. Often times the program is credited with changing lives forever. Our ROTEX go on to accomplish amazing things as a result. I’m happy to introduce you to one of those individuals. Dr. Elaine Hernandez had been selected by the Rotary International Board of Directors and The Rotary Foundation Trustees to receive the 2019-20 Rotary Alumni Global Service Award. This award is given each year to a Rotary alumnus whose achievements have enriched his or her profession and whose service to humanity exemplifies the spirit of Rotary. This is the highest honor our organization gives to its alumni. 
Elaine Hernandez was the first outbound youth exchange student for the Brantford Rotary Club from 1970-1971 under the leadership of Al Spence, and hosted by the Rotary Club of Hermosillo in Mexico. Her maiden name was Elaine Dove and because of that last name (she was born on November 11, Mexico’s Revolution Day), she always felt destined to promote world peace and understanding...and Rotary provided just that opportunity. After her exchange, she returned to Canada to study Spanish at Guelph University. Five years later, in 1976, she went back to Mexico to marry a dairy farmer from Aguascalientes, whom she had met at university. That year, she also started a school for 28 children living on the farm who had never attended school before which started her career in international development. Elaine is grateful for District 7090 and 4100 and the powerful impact of the Youth Exchange Program on her personal and professional life. In addition to her involvement in youth exchange, she is a recipient of a Fulbright Scholarship to Guatemala in 2000, and was a Team Leader for a Rotary International Group Study Exchange program to India in 2002. She has received numerous awards for both her local and international community service.
Elaine is currently the Regional Director in South Texas for the Baylor University's Collaborative on Hunger and Poverty. She is responsible for building sustainable public-private partnerships to address food insecurity at the border, especially in Cameron, Hidalgo, and Starr Counties. Currently, she is putting together a proposal for Rotary to invest $2M in economic and community development to address the humanitarian crisis of out-migration of unaccompanied children and families from Central America. Elaine is a member of the Rotary Cadre of Technical Advisors and will be traveling this month back to Sonora, Mexico to review a project for the Foundation. Congratulations to Elaine on her many accomplishments and for this great Rotary honor.