During the 98th Annual Kiwanis International Convention in Vancouver, British Columbia, MSU graduate Sue Petrisin was the first woman elected to serve as president of Kiwanis International, or any of the largest service organizations in the world, which include Rotary and Lions International.
During the convention, Petrisin was elected to be vice president. According to Greg Beard, immediate past governor of the Kiwanis Louisiana-Mississippi-West Tennessee District-, who nominated Petrisin, she will be serving her term as Kiwanis International president during the 2015-16 Kiwanis year, which starts and ends on Oct. 1.
“Once you are elected to be a part of the presidential board, you are in a succession line to become the president within the next three years,” Beard said. “You are first vice president, then you are a president-elect and then you become president. Each term lasts for one year.”
Kiwanis International- is a global organization of volunteers dedicated to changing the world, one child and one community at a time.
Petrisin has been a member of Kiwanis International for 25 years and has served on the board as a trustee for the last three years. Petrisin said gender was an issue for the international organization in the past, but has changed over time.
“When I graduated out of MSU in 1985, I was not eligible to be a Kiwanian because they only admitted men into the organization,” she said. “It wasn’t (until) the following year that women were actually admitted into Kiwanis International. So I feel honored and humbled that people elected me to even be in this position.”
Beard said during his speech at the convention that Petrisin has been a Kiwanian for 32 years and has devoted her time as a board member and district governor to many levels of leadership within their “K-family” — Kiwanis International, Circle K and Key Club. Petrisin served on the Key Club in high school and Circle K in college, before joining Kiwanis International once women were eligible.
Alexa Weatherwax, elementary education junior, who also is interning for Petrisin at the MSU Alumni Association, said she is glad that Petrisin was the one selected to be the first woman president of a top-tier service organization.