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Zonta Hilo’s Mele Spencer Recognized at Hawaii State Senate

On February 1, Mele Spencer was recognized at the Hawaii State Capitol for assuming the volunteer post of Zonta International District 9 governor for 2016-18. The ceremony was arranged by State Senator Lorraine Inouye.

Mele Spencer with recognition at the State Capitol with Hawaii State Senators and members from the Zonta Clubs of Hilo and Leilehua.

Zonta is a leading global organization of professionals empowering women worldwide through service and advocacy.

“How super to have our state senators recognize Zonta International’s work to empower women across the world,” said Spencer. “What a personal honor for me. Big mahalo to Senator Lorraine Inouye for arranging.”

As governor, Spencer serves as the link between the district and Zonta International and administers affairs of the district, which is comprised of 25 clubs and 543 members in Hawaii, California, Utah, Arizona and Nevada. District 9 also includes seven Z clubs (high school) and six Golden Z clubs (college), one of which is at the University of Hawaii at Hilo.

Spencer is one of 31 governors worldwide and nine Zontians in the United States serving as a district governor this biennium. She has been a member of the Zonta Club of Hilo since 1998.

Hilo’s Mele Spencer Elected Governor for Zonta District 9

Mele Spencer has assumed the volunteer post of Zonta International District 9 governor for 2016-18. Zonta International is a leading global organization of professionals empowering women worldwide through service and advocacy.

Mele Spencer

Mele Spencer

As governor, Spencer serves as the link between the district and Zonta International and administers affairs of the district, which is comprised of 25 clubs and 543 members in Hawaii, California, Utah, Arizona and Nevada. District 9 also includes seven Z clubs (high school) and six Golden Z clubs (college), one of which is at the University of Hawaii at Hilo.

Spencer is one of 31 governors worldwide and nine Zontians in the United States serving as a district governor for the biennium. A member of the Zonta Club of Hilo since 1998, Spencer is also responsible for organizing new Zonta clubs and strengthening existing ones in the district.

“Zonta continues to impact women not just locally but nationally, as demonstrated by our district governor coming from the Hilo club. We proudly support Mele in her new role as we continue to empower women through service and advocacy,” said Tonya Ozone, president of the Zonta Club of Hilo.

Spencer was formally installed at the Zonta International convention in Nice, France on July 6, 2016 and will serve through June 2018. She is the second governor from the Zonta Club of Hilo; Julie Tulang was elected governor of District 9 in 2004 and served through 2006.

“As governor of Zonta District 9, my top priorities are to draw in more young professionals, increase collaboration between Zonta and other like-minded organizations, and help clubs embrace technology to connect with current and potential members,” said Spencer. “To support international efforts, districts will focus on increasing its advocacy efforts for local and national issues, engage men in our gender equality campaigns and provide ongoing support for international projects, which totals $6 million annually.”

Zonta clubs are involved in many local and international service activities. The Zonta Club of Hilo, for example, has taken part in the Weinberg Foundation Friends Program for 18 years, introduced the community to “Denim Day” to raise awareness around sex assault, underwrites Girls Engineering Day at Waiakea High School and takes the “Hands Are Not For Hitting” message to Hawaii Island preschools in an effort to break the cycle of violence early.

Mele Spencer (right) and outgoing District 9 governor, Nikki Bonner, at Zonta International Convention in Nice, France.

Mele Spencer (right) and outgoing District 9 governor, Nikki Bonner, at Zonta International Convention in Nice, France.

The club awards young women pursuing STEM and business careers with scholarships annually and hosts “Zonta Fashion Frenzy,” a weekend fundraiser event dedicated to spotlighting local fashion designers and women-owned businesses. The next Fashion Frenzy is slated for February 10-12, 2017.

A former loan specialist and contract program manager with U.S. Department of Agriculture and State Department of Hawaiian Home Lands, Spencer currently owns and operates J&M Farms with her husband. Spencer’s commitment to building a strong community is evident in her involvement in many organizations including Hawaii County Committee on Status of Women, American Heart Association, Hawaii Island Adult Care, Hui Mana Group, Keaukaha-Panaewa Farmers Association, Farm Supply Cooperative and Zonta International.

Zonta Earns Neighborhood Place of Puna $10,000

Media Release from the Zonta Club of Hilo:

Members of the Zonta Club of Hilo dedicated their Saturday morning Dec. 11 to the club’s annual Weinberg Service Project at the Neighborhood Place of Puna in Pahoa. For their efforts, the club earned the family-strengthening center a $10,000 grant.

Zonta Club of Hilo workers outside the Neighborhood Place of Puna

“This grant will help us provide clients with basic needs to keep them afloat in tough times,” said Mary Hyslop, executive director of Neighborhood Place.  “This really makes a difference in the lives of the families we serve.

To meet the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation’s criteria, 27 Hilo Zontians, along with some friends, worked for four hours cleaning, making curtains, assembling toiletry kits and constructing educational bookmarks and anti-violence posters.

Phyllis Shinno, Wilma Matsumura and Bonnie Geiger make curtains for NPP

“Zonta Club of Hilo is so lucky to be a conduit from Weinberg to the East Hawaii community,” said Zonta president Kathleen Nielsen. “Our members enjoyed a day of work and fellowship and, frankly, a lot of teasing.”

The Neighborhood Place of Puna’s goal is to prevent child abuse and neglect by helping families recognize their strengths. The center empowers families and communities in Puna by building strong foundations through healthy relationships that value each person’s uniqueness. For information, visit the website: www.neighborhoodplaceofpuna.org

Through service and advocacy, the Zonta Club of Hilo advances the status of women and girls worldwide. The Hilo group is part of Zonta International and its efforts to promote the health and welfare of women and girls around the globe, mainly, to prevent violence against women and end human trafficking. Business and professional women are the member base of Zonta.

Locally, Zonta supports programs and services that advance women and children, such as nursing and business scholarships for deserving women. Zonta Club of Hilo provides opportunities to serve the community, broaden member knowledge base and network among colleagues and friends through program meetings that feature community speakers. For more information on the Zonta Club of Hilo, go to: www.zontahilo.org.

Hilo Zontian Named Area Director

Mele Spencer

Media Release:

Mele Spencer of Hilo was elected to the Zonta International – District 9 Board, covering Arizona, California, Hawaii, one city on the Mexican border, Nevada, and Utah.  Spencer will represent Hawaii’s six Zonta Clubs for 2010-2012.

Kathleen Nielsen, President of the Zonta Club of Hilo said Spencer follows “a long line of Hilo Zontians who have assumed duties at the district level.  Her leadership will insure the direct link between Zonta International, District 9 and the Hawaii Zonta Clubs.”
“In this austere time,” Spencer said,  “women and children are the most likely to be affected by economic turndown.  Zontians must focus resources on those in need and continue to advocate for them.”

Spencer and her spouse, Joseph, operate a plant and tree farm in Pana’ewa Hawaiian Homes Farm Lots.  She is the president of the Keaukaha Pana’ewa Farmers Association, and is a former program manager for USDA, Rural Development.  She has been a member of Zonta Club of Hilo for 12 years.

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