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Catalina Rotary Club Member Bio

Barbara Kiernan
Language Center

Barbara Kiernan

My Rotary Story

I am continually grateful for my involvement in our Global Grant in Sonora. The resultant programs to improve indigenous healthcare proved to be so important in saving lives and promoting a healthy future. I was struck by the contrast to our own situation in the US where many of us take basic healthcare for granted. During my first month there in 2017, I visited the four remote, rural areas the grant would serve. I met with community leaders, local healers, and followed the doctors around as they attended patients, supplied medicine, and talked with concerned families.

As we moved through the different villages, I soon realized that people do not always get sick when doctors are present. When accidents happen or serious medical conditions need attending, the patients are often isolated from medical care. This grant provided each community with trained people, equipment, and a telemedicine communication system to keep these communities healthy, even when doctors are not around.

One example really stands out: A leader of one of the communities was diabetic, and he did not always take his insulin (unfortunately, not uncommon). Two weeks before we saw him, he had injured his foot and just kept on working and bandaging the wound at night with recycled bandages. Not surprisingly, the wound on his foot did not heal and by the time our team saw him, gangrene had set in. It was imperative that he receive immediate hospital treatment. Our clinic doctors came back the very next day, took him to the hospital and stayed with him to make sure he received proper medical care. By the time I left, he was responding to antibiotics and hopeful that amputation could be avoided. Had the doctors not discovered him during our visit, he might have lost his foot or even died.

This is just one example of how timely and appropriate intervention made the difference between life, death, and permanent disability. I was so grateful for the opportunity to be there too, preparing for a Rotary Global Grant that would truly made a life-changing difference to so many.

Full Name
Barbara Jean Kiernan


Partner Name

Place of Birth/Hometown
Dearborn, Michigan

How long in Tucson
Since 1985 (38 years & counting! Whew!)

3 married children & 6 grandchildren

Current Position/Employer
Retired faculty member & Director of the Child Language Center at University of Arizona

Major Career Milestones
• Barbara has formed 3 influential educational organizations in Caracas Venezuela:
International House of Caracas; ProLengua Internacional; a Masters Degree program in conjunction with Maryvale College of St. Louis, Missouri though which 50 Venezuelan students have received their Masters degrees under her direction.
• Bringing TESOL to Venezuela. TESOL is an international professional organization dedicated to supporting second language learning in English throughout the world.
• Developing the Child Language Center at UA along with its Wings on Words Preschool, a language-based early intervention for children with impaired language skills. As Director, Barbara wrote many sustaining grants and secured an Angel Charity grant to build the current Wings on Words facility in 2010.

When joined Catalina Rotary/Sponsor
2001, Kathleen Roberts Stevenson sponsor

Rotary Milestones
• Fundraising Chair for the Catalina Rotary Club’s Centennial Project: Milagros Playground at Jacob’s Park
• President: 2009 – 2010
• Led a delegation of 23 Rotarians to Ajijic, Jalisco, Mexico to perform a service project and inaugurate a long-lasting relationship with the Rotary Club of Ajijic. Many Service Projects followed along with a scholarship fund for the young students of nearby Tepehua, which members of Catalina Rotary continue to financially support.
• In collaboration with The Rotary Club of Ajijic, wrote a Rotary Global grant (Jalisco, MX) focused on conflict resolution in elementary schools during 2016 and 2017.
• During 2018 thru 2020, Barbara wrote a Rotary Global grant for Northern Sonora, Mexico focused on improving indigenous health care in remote, rural areas of Sonora. This project was a collaboration with Rotary Club of Navojoa along with 17 other clubs in 3 countries.
• As part of the Global Grant activities in Sonora, Barbara led delegations of up to 40 Rotarians and spouses in 3 separate journeys to visit the project. Activities involved needs assessment, service projects, inaugural activities, and lots of fun fellowship along the way!

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