A passionate Rotarian gets leadership role Taking charge as the new District Governor, Judith Hughes is keen to increase the membership and has lined up a slew of project activities.

Judith Hughes (right) installed the new president of the Grove City Rotary Club, Greg Liszka (left), during the group's meeting at Sweet Jeanie's. Hughes is the new district governor for RI District 7280 which includes 43 clubs. Photo: Monica Pryts
Judith Hughes (right) installed the new President of the Grove City Rotary Club, Greg Liszka (left), during the group’s meeting at Sweet Jeanie’s. Hughes is the new District Governor for RI District 7280 which includes 43 clubs. Photo: Monica Pryts

Judith Hughes is passionate about being a Rotary Club member, and she hopes that others follow in her footsteps as she takes on a new leadership role.

“The ‘service above self’ continues only with new faces,” she said, citing the Rotary motto.

Hughes is the new District Governor for Rotary District 7280, which includes 43 clubs in the western half of Pennsylvania.

She spoke briefly during the Grove City Rotary Club meeting on Thursday at Sweet Jeanie’s, where she installed their next President, Greg Liszka.

The gavel was passed among eight Grove City Rotary members until it reached Liszka; those people have served as club President, District Governor, or board members.

Hughes encouraged them to get members more involved, and she referenced former Rotary International President Wilf Wilkerson, who has said that Rotary allows ordinary people to do extraordinary things.

People from all backgrounds, including high school and college students, are part of Rotary, and District 7280 includes an online club, she said.

This year’s theme is “Rotary: Making a Difference,” and Evan McKnight said that he knows people will be able to count on Hughes to make that happen.

“She’s always very hard working,” said McKnight, who preceded Liszka as president.

After the meeting, Hughes said that she was thrilled to serve as District Governor for the next year, and she looked forward to visiting all of the clubs in District 7280 in the coming months.

“I’m a people person,” said Hughes, who lives in Grove City with her husband Jim.

She first joined the nonprofit organisation in 2009 as a member of the Slippery Rock Rotary Club, where she remains active.

Hughes is from Illinois and she and her husband moved to the area when he started teaching geography at Slippery Rock University.

Hughes taught music and voice at Grove City College, and they are both retired.

She believes that her “enthusiasm for Rotary” paved the way for her club’s support when it came time for her fellow members to fill out the paperwork recommending her for District Governor.

Hughes looks to outgoing District Governor Tom Chelgren as her mentor.

He’s a retired state trooper who is very detail oriented, and his guidance has reaffirmed that being a Rotary leader is “not about you” – it’s about helping those in need.

She wants to help clubs increase their memberships, which means that more service and volunteer projects will be possible, both locally and globally.

Hughes wants to “get to the heart” of each club and find out what makes them unique.

Younger members are needed, especially women, who were not allowed to join Rotary until 1987.

Some countries still exclude women from Rotary, she said.

Her other projects include:

• Helping children at an orphanage in Uganda, where she’s already spent time.

• Working to expand Pennsylvania’s 2-1-1 outreach – it’s a United Way tool that offers resources like healthcare information, help with heating bills, veterans assistance, and more – by dialing those three numbers.

• Having each member of her district plant a tree in their area on April 22 – Earth Day. Many Rotary clubs are doing the same.

“And more things will come along,” Hughes said of her wish list.

That list includes visiting with her daughter and grandson, and catching up with her knitting group that meets on Thursday night at Sweet Jeanie’s.

“I treasure relationships. I treasure people,” Hughes. 

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