Los Lunas Rotarian Donna Pedace Explains Rotary Friendship Exchange

Los Lunas Rotarian Donna Pedace addresses local Rotary Club. Photo by Linda Hull

Vice President
Rotary Club of Los Alamos

“Have you ever wanted to share a travel adventure with Rotarians?”  This was the question posed by Donna Pedace, a Los Lunas Rotarian and chair of District 5520’s Rotary Friendship Exchange (RFE) during a March 15 presentation for the Rotary Club of Los Alamos.  The re-start of the RFE was recently announced after a hiatus imposed for two years by the pandemic.  The RFE program provides opportunities for Rotarians, their friends, and adult children to travel with other Rotarians within the U.S. and to other countries.  The program allows travelers to “learn about many aspects of the people and culture” of the destination.

Exchanges usually last 10-14 days.  RFE groups usually visit two to three communities in the host district, staying a few days with a host family in each community.  Travelers are responsible for all of their own expenses, but Rotary hosts provide lodging and breakfast.  All participants must be fully vaccinated and have had a COVID-19 booster.

An exchange group from New Mexico will visit the Lake Ontario-Finger Lakes area in upstate New York at the end of June; a reciprocal exchange will be hosted by District 5520 in New Mexico in mid-October for Rotarians from New York. 

Traditionally, District 5520, which encompasses all of New Mexico and west Texas, has hosted the most RFEs of any Rotary district in the U.S.

In conclusion, Pedace reminded Rotarians that “the Rotary Friendship Exchange is one of the most popular programs Rotary sponsors for its members.  It’s a wonderful way to travel in the company of friends, to make new friends, and to travel in safety and comfort.”

Anyone interested in the Rotary Friendship Exchange may contact Pedace at pedaceabq@aol.com, 505-349-8850.

Donna Pedace describes her career path as “eclectic.”  She has held positions in program management with General Dynamics, and has owned a boutique travel agency in California.  She has also served as the Executive Director of several major non-profit organizations including the New Mexico Spanish Colonial Arts Society and Museum in Santa Fe, and, as a long-time Rotarian, has held many significant Club and District positions.  A member of the Rotary Club of Los Lunas, Pedace is the District Chair of the Rotary Friendship Exchange (RFE) program, and she will be the District Director of Operations for incoming Rotary District Gov. John Drusedum in 2022-2023.

During the pandemic, Pedace wrote Scandalous Women Of The Old West – Women Who Dared To be Different, a book about little known women of the Old West.

The Rotary Club of Los Alamos, through its Club Foundation, is a 501(c)3 non-profit and one of over 34,000 clubs worldwide.  Rotary, which now has 1.5 million members, was founded in 1905; the local Club was chartered in 1966.  Rotary areas of focus include promoting peace; fighting disease, particularly polio; providing clean water, sanitation, and hygiene; supporting education; saving and enhancing the lives of mothers and children; growing economies; and protecting the environment.

The Rotary Club of Los Alamos meets in person Tuesdays, 12:00-1:00, in the Community Room, Cottonwood on the Greens, at the golf course.  A Zoom option is available by contacting Linda Hull, Rotary Club vice-president, 505-662-7950.  Hull is also happy to provide information about the Club and its humanitarian service.