Rotary District 7170 honors
Rotarians of the Month
Dennis Gray
Maricelis Acevedo
Rotarians of the month are “Power Couple” Dennis Gray and Maricelis Acevedo of the Ithaca Noon Rotary Club for their passion and action in international development.  Dennis is a native of Ontario Canada where he was a long-time Rotarian and a member of the Water and Sanitation Action Group.  Maricelis is a native of Puerto Rico and has a background in plant pathology.  She took a position at Cornell University in 2016 and the couple relocated to Spencer New York.  They immediately joined the Ithaca Noon Rotary Club and are making great strides in International Development through their vocations and through Rotary.
Dennis is Founder and CEO of Backyard Brands Inc.   He has more than 40 years of experience in developing and marketing water care technologies for swimming pool and hot tubs.  Backyard Brands Inc. is a next generation recreational water care specialty company.  Dennis is also a frequent international conference presenter and family-business trainer and has delivered over 400 presentations for various industry and professional associations worldwide. Dennis is an honors business graduate from Ryerson University, with continued business studies at University of Toronto and is a graduate of the Ivey School of Business Executive program. He is an Internationally Certified Consultant in Theory of Constraints, a Certified Behavioral Analyst, and a past member of the Canadian Association of Professional Speakers.  Dennis has been involved in extensive development in Kenya and Uganda representing over $1.5 million in funding for projects including rainwater harvesting, and water and sanitation projects for HIV orphanages. 
Maricelis is a native of Puerto Rico with extensive training in plant pathology.  She has a Masters in Agronomy and a PhD from the University of Nebraska in plant pathology.  At Cornell she is bringing genetic food science to farmers around the world with a special interest in Ethiopia.  Her work is directly addressing food insecurity.
Dennis and Maricelis immediately responded to the devastation in Puerto Rico.  They spent several days in the country working with Rotary and other relief providers including the Jorge and Laura Posada Foundation (Jorge is the long-standing catcher for the New York Yankees).  Their efforts have resulted in the distribution of vast amounts of baby food throughout Puerto Rico.
To help raise funds for Puerto Rico, they helped the Ithaca Noon club to organize The Dozen Dinner Draw that featured 25 restaurants in Ithaca and raised $10,000 for Puerto Rico relief efforts.  They have also advised other international projects in our District including the SUNY Broome Health for Haiti program.  Dr. Musa from SUNY Broome reports that Dennis and Maricelis have provided the Health for Haiti program farm equipment, support for a soap making venture, ideas for capturing rain water and personal encouragement.
Rotary District 7170 honors Dennis Gray and Maricelis Acevedo as Rotarians of the Month.