“When I look at what triggers community vitality, Rotary is right there making crucial differences in our communities, our state and our world. I’m honored to be a part of this wonderful organization and deeply humbled to serve District 5630 as its governor for 2022-2023 Rotary year” — DG 2022-2023 Deb McCaslin
Deb McCaslin is similar to many women in being described as a community activist, but one distinct difference is that she views the entire world as her community. Maybe that’s one thing she loves about Rotary.
This global point of view seems out-of-place for a woman raised in Broken Bow, Nebraska. Rural Custer County is not usually considered breeding grounds of globe-trotting, proactive individuals; but her upbringing was key in shaping her attitudes and determination. McCaslin’s grandfather, Emerson Purcell was an active Rotarian, state senator and founder of the Custer County Chief. Her father too was a community activist taking positions on the hospital and library boards and leading the charge through the newspaper as community needs surfaced.
McCaslin is the wife of a retired Air Force pilot, the mother of three, grandmother of seven, and was a doctoral candidate in music performance at the University of Arizona. She traveled extensively to a variety of overseas assignments and at each stop immersed her family in the culture of the area, joined the local symphony and continued serving wherever and whenever needed as a volunteer.
With her husband’s retirement and the re-location of the family to their Broken Bow roots, McCaslin joined the Custer County Chief as a writer, then managing editor, then publisher, becoming a corporate executive and the third generation of her family to publish her hometown paper.
In Broken Bow she chairs the Children’s Christmas Fund which helps families in need, not only get through the holidays, but maintains a year-round source of comfort, helping with rent, utilities, transportation when the weather gets cold or tragedy strikes; helped her Rotary club bring Broken Bow TeamMates to the community and continues to sit on their Board of Directors.
She served for 11 years on the executive committee for Custer Economic Development and later, as her retirement from the newspaper was announced, she was asked to take the position as their interim and then full-time CEO to help guide the organization as they launched a nationwide search.
She sat on the Nebraska Press Association Board of Directors for Advertising Services, serving as president, and followed that with a position on the National Newspaper Association Board of Directors chairing their Government Affairs Committee.
Her national activities include five years’ participation in the Washington, D.C., FEMA tabletop training program at Emmetsburg, Maryland. Designed to test national emergency preparedness, these served to reinforce her belief that all response is local, no matter what situation.
In her home state she chaired the Industrial Council for Community Vitality through the Nebraska Blueprint program, an appointment made through the Governor’s office.
But most near and dear to her heart has been, and continues to be involvement in Rotary. She is quick to say this is where she found her true calling – Looking beyond America’s borders, she embraced the opportunity to be a part of Rotary’s overseas programs that bring medical measures to Third World countries, and recently helped her own local club foster a ‘Twin Club’ relationship with the Victoria Falls Rotary Club, Zimbabwe helping drill bore holes and build community gardens to address food sustainability and now as partners in a global grant project focused on ‘Girls Empowerment.’
“If there is one thing I’ve learned, it is how small our world truly is, and how alike we all are. When I first traveled overseas, I expected differences, but what I encountered and continue to encounter are likenesses. I found that moms are moms worldwide. Families care deeply for their children and want what is the best for their kids, and for them to have the opportunity to lead happy productive lives.”
She has served local Rotary Clubs three times as president, District 5630 in leadership capacities for Public Image, Membership and Leadership, and now is humbled and honored to serve as District 5630’s Governor where she hopes to share her love and joy for service.
“What my husband Norm and I hope, and expect most out of ourselves and of our own children, is be assets to the greater communities where we reside. What more can we ask? Nothing!”
Honors include: Broken Bow High School Alumni Hall of Fame inductee; Custer Economic Development Workhorse Award recipient; Elks Citizen of the Year Award; Nebraska Admiral Award; Nebraska First Lady’s Outstanding Community Service Award for Lifetime Achievement in Volunteerism; Nebraska’s AARP Nebraska Senior Citizen of the Year Andrus Award and Nebraska Press Association’s Leadership Nebraska Award.