Our History

Our History


  • Rick Russell & Abe Kuttothara = “Founders” of modern USA-Canada organization (currently NAYEN) 
  • had vision to hold a conference to pull together Rotarians in the USA and Canada, who were  involved RYE
  • 1st “USA-Canada” conference hold at the Orrington  Hotel – Evanston, IL



  • President:  Rick Russell (USA)
  • 2nd “USA-Canada” conference hold  → again at the Orrington  Hotel – Evanston, IL
  • more formal organization evolved over the two years, taking on the name “USA-Canada Youth Exchange Network”
  • President – Rick Russell (2000-2002)
  • Directors based on RI Zones
  • District of the Year Award – developed and presented at Conference
  • YEOtalk initiated during this time frame


  • President: Loring Miller (USA)
  • decision to move conference site around USA & Canada  →  Las Vegas
  • “Gift Exchange” introduced
  • significantly more international RYE counterparts, now attending annual conference


  • President: Bill Sturgeon (USA)
  • Moved two a two –year term of office
  • development of YEO Resources as an online resource tool
  • exchange of ideas, articles, First Night Questionnaire, Protection Brochure, Documents Library, etc.
  • Conference 2004 – 1st time held in Canada → Vancouver
  • First Night Questionnaire → available on YEO Resources in multiple languages


  • President: Neil McDonald (Canada)
  • Long Term & Short Term Applications →  updated into fillable pdf through collaboration with EEMA (Europe, Eastern Mediterranean and Africa)
  • development of multilingual Youth Protection Brochure

      Conference held in Philadelphia → introduction of :

Book Donations and Achievement Awards (Gold, Silver, Bronze) & Abe Kuttothara Outstanding District Award


  • President: Dennis White (USA)

significant organizational and structural activity with initiation of various committees to address needs of evolving USA-Canada organization:
     Exec Committee

    Conference Committee

    By-Laws Committee

    Insurance Committee

    Editorial Boards  

  • Mexico joins the organization
  • move from USA-Canada to NAYEN (North American Youth Exchange Network)


  • President: Dan Bronson (USA)
  • continued review of organizational needs of new organization
  • move from representation by RI Zones to one of Regions based on Multidistricts and Independent Districts 


  • President: Woody Angst (USA)
  • development of:
    online training & Conference Guidelines
  • Conference 2012 held in Anchorage: 
  • initiate more formal representation by RI (e.g., Director); RI RYE Staff,  RI YE Committee; EEMA & ABIJ; 
  • 1st “Leaders Meeting” of Regional Association Presidents


  • President: Don Peters (USA)
  • development of a Strategic Plan and identify specific NAYEN goals
  • investigation of funding model to support strategic plan
  • NAYEN Mission Statement:

The North American Youth Exchange Network shall facilitate collaboration among and provide support to Rotary Districts and Multi-Districts in the USA, Canada, and Mexico to promote Rotary youth exchange around the world.

  • 5 Strategic Priorities:
  • Provide access to Resources that support and promote the RYE program.
  • Provide Innovative Methods of delivery of training and other resources.
  • Promote sound Organizational Development.
  • Facilitate Networking in the RYE community.
  • Serve as an Advocate for the RYE program.
  • 10 Goals to Support 5 Strategic Priorities:
  • Resources
  • Goals:
  • Innovative Methods – Best Practices, Single Portal, Online Training, YEO Resources,
  • Organization Development – Integrated Strategic Plan, Leadership Development, Board Communication
  • Networking – Annual Conferences
  • Advocate – Rotary Groups, Regulatory Bodies
  • Conference 2014 – 1st time held in Mexico → Cancun


  • President: Terrance McNaughton (Canada)
  • Major revision of NAYEN By-Laws
  • Development of a formal Financial Policy
  • Identification of a need for “Reserves” → goal or $50 000 US
  • Two-Tiered Funding Model
    Dues: $8 per LT OB student
  • NAYEN Surcharge $50 per full Conference Registrant

  • Implemented formal interview process for selecting NAYEN President-Elect 
  • Development of Online Training Modules:
  • Address Rotary International requirements and for US districts, Department of State requirements
  • Modules available in: English, French and Spanish
    Volunteer – General and US specific
  • Host Family – General and US specific
  • Development of two new logos (branding) to conform to RI guideline

Directors assigned to committees to increase their level of involvement, develop leadership and distribute the workload

  • Development of new website and consolidation of various sites


  • President: Paul Reagan
  • NAYEN Conference 2017 – Calgary had 5 Round Table discussions resulting in NAYEN initiatives:
  • Selection to Departure – Final report 2018-Jun
  • Long Term Application – updated and implemented 2019-Oct
  • Uniform Disciplinary Process – completed and circulated 2019-Jul
  • Uniform Exchange Agreement – completed 2019-Spring; being utilized by some districts/multidistricts around the world
  • Early Returns-How Do Sponsor Districts Handle Them – Final report 2018-Mar
  • NAYEN DEI Committee (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion):
  • to assess needs, create awareness and develop appropriate training
  • Recruiting Website:

            marketing initiative to increase recruitment of potential exchange students by:

           targeting search words used by students sending leads directly to YEO of student’s    


  • ROTEX North America: 
  • added a ROTEX member to the NAYEN Board
  • objective to support the development of ROTEX North America
  • Development of Online Training Modules (continuation):
  • Expand course offerings → to 11 modules
  • Continue translation of courses into Spanish, French and Portuguese
  • Offer to non-NAYEN RYE for a fee 
  • Converted DOS training to NAYEN format:
  • free to NAYEN districts
  • Marketed to non-Rotary YE organizations for a fee