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WATCH & LISTEN: Connecting People, Organizations and Ideas

Karen Witter is a freelance writer for the Illinois Times and the former President of the Rotary Club.

 She moved to Springfield from Morton, IL, and attended Springfield High School.

The Biology and Botany teachers there inspired her to get a degree in biological sciences.

“I got my degree in zoology from Iowa State, and then I applied for a Rotary Club scholarship and went to the University of Wales in Great Britain where I got my masters degree in ecology,” Witter said.          

After she graduated from the University of North Wales, which has been renamed Bangor University, Karen became the Natural Resources Policy Adviser to Illinois Governor James Thompson. 

More recently she was President of the Rotary Club of Springfield Sunrise, one of the five Rotary Clubs currently in Springfield.

“Rotary is an international service organization that’s really committed to doing good things in the world. Focus areas include health, and clean water and sanitation, maternal health, and international peace. There are clubs all over the world that are in communities in many different places that do philanthropic activities and invest in the community,” Witter said.

In Springfield, the Rotary Club planted a tree for each of its members, and additionally plants a tree in a member’s honor if he or she passes away. The club also gives scholarships and community grants for organizations such as Girls on the Run, Vachel Lindsay Association, and Big Brothers Big Sisters. The Rotary Club also collaborates with NPR Illinois for the ‘This I Believe’ essay program. The Rotary Club also helps on the international front.

“Rotary is working very, very hard to eradicate polio and we are fortunate here in the United States that we had our vaccines and aren’t at risk for polio here, but in other countries that is not the case. So for many decades now, rotary has been working to eradicate polio,” Witter said. 

Karen’s passion for helping others through Rotary as well as bringing attention to community issues through her writing for the Illinois Times all ties to her mission on bettering the world and her small corner of it. 


“Kind of my tagline, since I retired, is ‘Connecting people, organizations, and ideas to achieve greater results’. So the things I’m involved in, whether it be Rotary, the Women for Women Giving Circle, my writing,  if somebody’s interested in this but if you connect them with this then maybe they can do more,” Witter said.

For NPR Illinois Podcast Academy this is Molly Tolsdorf.





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