Committee Member Bios

Candace Black is a French teacher at East Irondequoit High School. She joined the Rennes-Rochester Sister Cities Committee in 200X and has dedicated most of her time to setting up school exchanges between high schools in the two cities. She has led two exchanges with the Lycée St-Martin in Rennes and her own high school, in 2008-2009 and 2010-2011. She will be heading up a third exchange in 2012-2013. Candace participated in an ATAD summer exchange in Avignon, France, when she was in high school and, in 1991, she studied at the Sorbonne in Paris. She currently serves as the secretary of the Rennes-Rochester Sister Cities Committee.

John Connelly is a retired advertising creative director with extensive experience in France and Wallonie, the French-speaking region of Belgium. He lived in Belgium for more than three years where he perfected his French and also earned a Master’s Degree in International Relations from Boston University. Since 2000 he has been working for a French medical/healthcare research company based in Lyon. He has been a member of the Rennes-Rochester Sister Cities Committee since 2010. John has been to France over 25 times. A resident of Livonia, he is also very active in Rotary International’s Youth Exchange Program and serves as “country officer” for French and Belgian exchange students coming to live in our area.

Ron Dufort is a Mechanical Engineer at Xerox. While studying at RIT he spent three months at INSA, a university in Rennes. During this period (1997), he developed an exchange program that led to an ongoing program at RIT, Ron’s alma mater. He joined the Rennes-Rochester Sister Cities Committee immediately upon his return from France (1998). Ron has accompanied three delegations to Rennes: the first with area World War II vets to visit the Normandy beaches (in 2004); the second with Rochester Wheels, the city’s wheelchair basketball team (in 2007); and the third with Rochester’s then-mayor, Bob Duffy (in 2008). In addition, Ron has helped host many French delegations that have come to the Rochester area.

Ray Griswold is currently the President of the Rennes-Rochester Sister Cities Committee and has had a long connection with France. After engineering school he studied at the Sorbonne (1968-69) and has had made dozens of trips to France over the years. Ray has been involved with the committee since 1979 and was chair of the committee from 1980 to 1984. He rejoined the committee after graduate school in 1988 and has been active since. He has taken special interest in sports exchanges between the two countries, notably involving Rochester-area high-school basketball teams (both boys’ and girls’ teams) going to France. These frequently involved pan-European championships.

Barbara Kruger majored in French as an undergraduate at Georgetown University and spent her junior year in Nice. She has been teaching French and Spanish since 1990 and has taught both languages at Finger Lakes Community College since 1996. Barbara became a member of Rennes-Rochester Sister Cities Committee in 2005. Thanks to contacts she has made as a committee member she was able to establish an exchange with the Institute Catholique de Rennes in 2007 and has had two successful exchanges with that school. A frequent visitor to France, Barbara will enjoy a sabbatical in France in 2013. She is a Penfield resident.

Michael Leach works as a consultant at City Hall in Rochester and is the chief liaison between Rochester’s mayor and the sister city organization. Mike is active both in the Rennes-Rochester Sister Cities Committee as well as the larger organization, ISCOR (International Sister Cities of Rochester) where he serves as treasurer. He also has been the head of the Krakow-Rochester Sister Cities Committee for more than ten years. Mike also performs traditional music and dance of several European cultures and in 2010 led a group of Rochester performers to Rochester’s Irish sister city, Waterford.

Anne Lutkus had a long, successful career as a language coordinator and French teacher at the University of Rochester (1987-2009). She worked with the exchange students and teaching assistants from Université de Haute Bretagne (Rennes 2). For many years she ran “The French in France,” the U of R’s summer language program. She has been a member of the Rennes-Rochester Sister Cities Committee for more than 30 years and thoroughly enjoys keeping up her contacts with France. Anne currently lives in Geneseo.

Joyce Nakada joined the Rennes-Rochester Sister Cities Committee in 2012 because she wanted to have more contact with France and the French. She had a visitor from Rennes stay with her family about 15 years ago, and then she visited his family in Rennes. Joyce is a strong believer in “people-to-people” diplomacy, and recently returned from serving in the Peace Corps in Ecuador. She has had an interest in France since 7th grade, when she started studying the language. She can thank an excellent high school teacher for enabling her to speak French so well. The important skill set she brings to the RRSCC is computer knowledge which she is using to create and maintain an improved committee website.

Jennifer Rybak, a French and Spanish teacher at Aquinas Institute, was motivated to join Rennes-Rochester Sister Cities Committee back in 2005 when she was invited her to start up an exchange program with a similar Catholic high school in Rennes. She has taken students to France in odd-numbered years since 2005, and is planning another trip in the spring of 2013. Jen, who has been interested in France for as long as she can remember, studied French from grade 9 through graduate school. After graduating from SUNY Geneseo, she lived in France (1996-1998) and taught English as a foreign language. Jen feels that her ability to network is an asset to the RRSCC. She enjoys motivating people to get involved in activities that might be outside their comfort zone. In her limited free time she trains for and competes in marathons and triathlons. Jen lives in Greece, NY.