A Year of Contrast…

At our Annual General Meeting held via Zoom on 14 May,  Club members reflected on what a year of contrast it has been!  We started the year by embracing the world with our celebrations for the Centennial of Zonta International — and ended it in social isolation brought about by the global pandemic.

Kelda Opperman, CEO of the Zonta House Refuge Association was our inspirational guest speaker.  Kelda shared the challenges that she and her team had faced during the pandemic – and how they and their clients were adapting to life with uncertainty, no touching and services provided online.  Members were moved by her strength, care and passion.  In the dark days, she sought counsel from one of the Refuge’s founders, Di Annear, and was encouraged to persevere, persevere, persevere.    At the start of the pandemic, the Refuge was at the end of various funding cycles, and this added to the stress and uncertainty.  However, the team’s perseverance paid off and they are now on track with funding – but can always do with a boost so they can do more!  Donations to the Refuge are always welcome!

For one hundred years, Zontians around the world have said yes to gender equality and no to violence against women.  We have freely donated our time and talents to empower women through service and advocacy.   During this Centennial year, we focused on honouring and empowering women and were:

  • inspired by our awardees; the youthful visionaries and those that had overcome immense disadvantage, violence and poverty, to turn their lives around with education;
  • humbled by the migrant women who bravely shared their stories of adjusting to a new country, culture and language, rebuilding their lives after experiencing horrendous domestic violence, and trying to weave their ways through complex court processes;
  • awed by four of the world’s leading astro-scientists who had been called by the cosmos and who shared their ‘ground- breaking’ research with us in the Planetarium;
  • energized by the special Centennial Australia New Zealand combined districts conference in Brisbane where we launched our club’s centennial history, met the Zonta International President Susanne von Bassewitz and saw Sandra Burns installed as District 23 Governor Elect; 
  • educated by our speakers on training Aboriginal leaders, encouraging CEOs to do more about gender equity, promoting women and girls to do STEM subjects, caring for women at the refuge, honouring women through the WA Women’s Hall of Fame as well as Zonta updates at the Area 3 workshop;
  • entertained at our Quiz Night, and social events;
  • thrilled when Judy Gorton’s article on a hundred years of Zonta was prominently featured in the West Australian newspaper and Ute Schierhorn used her connections to get the club visibility in the newspaper’s popular Inside Cover section;
  • proud when Zonta International’s Centennial was honoured at a special event at WA’s Parliament House;
  • relieved when WA’s pandemic restrictions kicked in and members did not get sick; and
  • delighted when all members embraced the technology so that we could continue to meet online via Zoom.

Our Club’s Annual Report will give you a taste of what our members’ combined efforts have achieved in 2019-20.  Special thanks go to Irvan Stanley and his team at IS Assurance for auditing the Club’s accounts pro bono.

At the AGM, four members were honoured for their Zonta service:

  • Lennie McCall – 49 years (Charter member)
  • Val Gandossini – 10 years
  • Vicky Nazer – 5 years
  • Linda Higgie – 5 years

Members thanked the outgoing 2019-20 Board for giving their time, talents and energy to lead the Club in this memorable year:

  • President:  Carole Theobald
  • Vice President: Val Gandossini
  • Treasurer: Ute Schierhorn
  • Secretary: Vera Riley
  • Directors: Kate Ellson, Tanis Jackson, Emma Stenhouse, and Gabrielle Walker.

Candidates for the 2020-21 Board were announced by Sandra Burns (District 23 Governor Elect), elections were conducted by ‘Tricia Summerfield (Club Parliamentarian) and officers installed by Judy Gorton (Zonta International Director) – with amazing speed. Electronic meetings certainly increase our efficiency!

Congratulations go to the 2020-21 Board:

  • President:  Mary Gurgone
  • Vice President: Ping Teo
  • Treasurer: Ute Schierhorn
  • Secretary: Emily Thomas
  • Directors: Kate Ellson, Val Gandossini, Natasha Kusmuk, and Emma Stenhouse.

The President, Mary Gurgone will receive her badge of office, gavel, and clapping sticks in the coming days.  Members look forward to supporting Mary and the new Board as we continue on our mission to empower women and girls through service and advocacy.

Many thanks go to all Zontians, family, friends, and sponsors for their magnificent support