Legacy of Giving for Local Zonta Chapter with over $300,000 in Grants to Empower Women and Girls

Robin Reese and Suzette Cowell

Special to The Truth

Members of Zonta Club Toledo I, marked the club’s 100-year milestone anniversary at its Centennial Celebration on Saturday, Nov. 6 at the Inverness Club of Toledo. Zonta’s mission is to empower women and girls through service and advocacy. The Zonta Club of Toledo 1, established on November 25, 1921, is one of the founding affiliates of Zonta International with more than 1,100 clubs worldwide.

The Centennial Celebration honored 11 local leaders who are empowering women in diverse areas such as social services, broadcasting, financial stability, and healthcare. Presenting sponsors of the event are Buckeye Broadband and the Area Office on Aging of Northwest Ohio.

“100 years of service and advocacy for women and girls. That’s quite a legacy of support and hope,” said Catharine Harned, the Club’s president. “This Centennial Celebration gave us the opportunity to honor the contributions and achievements our organization has made locally and globally since its founding,“

Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur and Suzette Cowell

Since 2000, the Zonta Club of Toledo 1, and its affiliate the Zonta Club of Toledo 1 Foundation, have provided more than $300,000 in financial support to local and global projects ranging from planning assistance, scholarships, financial and volunteer support to a of variety of organizations that expand access to education, healthcare, economic opportunities and safe living conditions for women and girls.

The Club has spearheaded many local projects and promoted the development of women and girls, both locally and internationally. This support has ranged from scholarship opportunities for girls, as well as projects that improve the quality of life for women, such as ending human trafficking and violence
against women.

Billie Johnson, Robin Reese, State Sen. Teresa Fedor, Wendy Pestrue, Rita Mansour, Wendi Huntley, Sis. Dorothy Thum

“Zonta has been empowering women and girls locally since 1921. We look forward to the next 100 years of support and continuing our critical work to advance understanding, goodwill and peace through this global fellowship,” Harned continued.

Billie Johnson, President and Chief Executive of the Area Office of Aging of Northwest Ohio received special recognition for her more than 25-year leadership and support of Zonta Club of Toledo I and Zonta International.

In addition, 10 Toledo-area women were recognized as “Women of Achievement” for their actions which align with Zonta’s mission. Those Honorees included:

• Suzette Cowell, founder and CEO of the Toledo Urban Federal Credit Union;
• Honorable Teresa Fedor, Member of the Ohio Senate District 11;
• Wendi Huntley; President of Connecting Kids to Meals;
•  Rita Mansour, Senior Managing Director, Mansour Wealth Management;
• Linda Parra, Radio Broadcaster Advocate of the Toledo Latino community;
• Wendy Pestrue, CEO of United Way of Greater Toledo;
• Chrys Peterson, Communications and Leadership Consultant;
• Robin Reese, Executive Director of Lucas County Children’s Services;
• Christina Rodriguez, Executive Director of Mom’s House;
• Sister Dorothy Thum, SVP, Mission and Values Integration, Mercy Health.

Christina Rodriguez, State Rep. Paula Hicks-Hudson

The honored guest and featured speaker of the evening was Zonta International President Sharon Langenbeck.  Langenbeck, a tireless advocate for women and girls, shared her views on their global state today, along with the challenges this group faces going forward in today’s society.

Since 1923, Zonta International has provided more than $40.9 million dollars to empower women and expand their access to education, healthcare, economic opportunities and safe living conditions. Zonta promotes and strives to protect the human rights of women and girls to reduce the incidence of violence against them and help every woman and girl realize her full potential.

Zonta Club of Toledo 1 was established in 1921 and was one of the first affiliates of Zonta International. Locally, the Club has spearheaded many projects and promoted the development of women both here in Toledo and internationally. For more information about the Club visit zontatoledo1.org.