Grosse Pointe Rotary Club
Grosse Pointe

Service Above Self

We meet In Person
Wednesdays at 5:30 PM
The Village Grille
16930 Kercheval Ave
Grosse Pointe, MI 48230
United States of America

Meetings are now Hybrid Meetings.

Members will receive email invites each week to join in person and a link to join virtually.

If you wish to be a guest please contact a member or Email us at

Our Stories
The club welcomed Tom Youngblood and Cathy Champion, seasoned realtors of the Pointes, to share their perspective on the current market and property tax assessments.
With the Headlee Amendment in 1978 and Proposal A in 1995, the amount that a homeowner’s property tax can be increased in a given year has been capped to avoid large fluctuations. The maximum increase is 5%. A home’s assessed value is determined at the end of the year and a Notice of Assessment is mailed out by the municipality in February. It contains the Assessed Value (SEV), which reflects 50% of its true cash value (which can go up or down by any amount) and a Capped Value. The taxable value is either the SEV or capped value, whichever is less. With the cap, if one owns a home for a number of years, the home’s taxable value can become much less than its assessed value. This amount is reset when a house is sold, and that new taxable amount will show up in the calendar year after purchase.
Homeowners can appeal their assessment before a Board of Review (using GP Farms rules). It’s up to the individual to present information as to why their assessment is wrong and it’s recommended to hire a realtor or a fee assessor to determine the amount. If dissatisfied with the review, the next step is going before the State Tax Tribunal.
PR Hall of Fame Inductee and Philanthropist Lisa Vallee-Smith grew up in GP Woods with two older brothers and a younger sister. She attended a small liberal arts college in Indiana before transferring to Wayne State, where she became a serious student with a passion for journalism and marketing.

Her employment started as the Director of Public Relations at Detroit Renaissance, which worked on the Detroit Jazz Festival, the Thanksgiving Day Parade, and the Detroit Grand Prix. She was also the president of Franco Public Relations Group for three years in the 1990s before starting her own public relations company, Airfoil Group, in 2000. Over the years, the company’s clients have included Microsoft, eBay, and PayPal. She is currently its CEO but is transitioning her way into retirement.
Ms. Vallee-Smith is now in the “bonus chapter” of her life, making a positive impact on our community through the Smith Family Foundation that she co-founded with her husband, Jeffrey. She believes that they have donated $500,000 over the last 5 years, with the main beneficiaries being Ascension St. John Hospital, Forgotten Harvest, and growing the sport of lacrosse in the City of Detroit.
Her “third son” Liam McIlroy, a GP South graduate, gave a short summary of his efforts on the lacrosse front as the Cass Tech Boys Lacrosse coach and the Director of the Detroit Box Lacrosse Association.

Ms. Vallee-Smith surprised us at the end of her talk by making a donation to the Club’s Foundation. It was very much appreciated!
Member, Library Director, and guest speaker Jessica Keyser provided so many valuable updates on renovations at the Grosse Pointe Libraries.
Central Branch is entering phase two of renovations, which will begin this June, and include a drive through pick-up window! The Woods Branch will receive a Maker’s Space, fresh finishes, another service desk, and more.
The ongoing renovations are adapting older buildings for the ever-changing needs of the community, and ensuring our public spaces will continue to be well-loved.
Dr. Gazel, the father of Nina Gazel, has worn many hats. His personal and work life have taken him to many different careers in locations around the world. Growing up in a small town in the northeastern part of Brazil without electricity and indoor plumbing, Dr. Gazel’s dad, a dentist without a university education, would read the classics out loud to his children every night. At age 11, he moved to the capitol to further his education, having to adapt to a new environment that included electricity, indoor plumbing, and learning how to take a bus to school.
After receiving a B.A. in Economics from University of Minas Gerais, Brazil, Dr. Gazel worked in the Amazon for a year, where he met his future wife, Chris Horak. He soon followed her to the United States not knowing how to speak English. He adapted to this challenge by learning through watching multiple episodes of Sesame Street and eventually received a M.A. and a Ph.D. in Economics at the University of Illinois.

Dr. Gazel then taught at the University of Nevada Las Vegas and has held positions at the Federal Reserve Bank in Kansas City, the Inter-American Development Bank in Washington D.C., and the World Bank in Angola and Mozambique. Each move required adapting to new cultures, going from the conservativeness of Kansas City to the cosmoplitation nature of Maryland, to the poverty in Africa. For the past few years, he has had many ventures in Brazil.
With the upcoming birth of Nina’s baby in June, Dr. Gazel is looking forward to receiving his “highest degree” – first-time grandfather.
Ms. Farah is a member (and Rotary foundation chair) of a new club, chartered in February 2022, called the Club of Global Partners in Peace. It is based in District 7730 out of North Carolina and started with 27 members from 18 countries. It consists of peace practitioners and Rotary Peace Fellow alumni mobilizing at all levels – in local communities, on national programs, and at global policy tables.
Rotary has a long history of peacebuilding, doing so since before WWI. This club’s vision is to create community as a place of support, comfort, learning, and safety and its goal is to partner in Rotary to amplify peacebuilding around the world.
As a new club, it is trying to build a solid foundation where different time zones and access to resources don’t prevent anyone from taking part. Ms. Farah shared a video where members from around the world gave their vision as to how to build peace. This included Laurie Smolenski, a former Grosse Pointer, who has a rich Rotary history.
Learn more about the club here:
Ms. Farah is the executive Director at the American Federation of Ramallah, Palestine. The organization’s goal is to connect Ramallites across the country and educate the American public about the rich Palestinian culture. She was born and raised in Chile to a Palestinian father and Spanish mother. Her family has always fought for human rights, which led her to a Masters in global studies at the University of North Carolina, where she also received a Certificate in International Peace and Conflict Resolution.
Thank you to those who donated their time or goods to the April drive-by food drive! Your support made it another success for the Second Mile Center and Community Treehouse. Mark Cory, Diane Strickler, Scott Matthews and Bob Lucas volunteered alongside members of GPMC, and by 11 o'clock, they had filled an entire van and half of a vehicle with donations, including men's clothing items.
Up and Coming Speakers
Jun 01, 2022
Joseph M. LaVere
Jun 08, 2022
vocational speech
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