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Zonta hosts successful district conference on Sanibel

By Staff | Sep 26, 2011

The Zonta Club of Sanibel-Captiva successfully hosted the annual conference for Zonta International District 11 at the Sundial Resort on Sanibel, Sept. 22 through 24.

District 11 comprises the southeastern states from North Carolina to the Caribbean, and includes the Bahamas and British Virgin Islands. There are 42 clubs in the District and 33 of them were represented by delegates and other members. A total of 155 registered for the conference, including 31 “first-timers” and a representative of the Zonta International board, Kirsi Nickels from Finland.

For Zonta members, these conferences are a rich source of networking, sharing and celebrating successes all while meeting the Zonta International mission of improving the status of women. The chosen theme was “Saving the World, One Woman at a Time.” The club received valuable support from other clubs in the region, including Sarasota, Punta Gorda/Port Charlotte, Fort Myers, Bonita Springs and Naples.

Co-chairs Nancy Dreher, Carolyn Gray and Linda Robison had help from local club members, 20 of whom were registered to attend.

“The feedback we received from our guests showed that they overwhelmingly enjoyed the Sanibel experience, the tropical setting and the conference speakers,” said club President Barbara Nagle.

Local experts featured included Kevin Lewis, executive director, and Rosemary Boisvert, managing director for the Transitional Living Center, at Southwest Florida Addiction Services, who were joined by Zontian Phyllis Gresham to discuss successful partnerships and advocacy efforts. Zonta has partnered with SWFAS for the past 10 years, contributing many hundreds of hours of service and more than $56,000 in grants.

Nicole Waid, acting chief U.S. attorney, Middle District of Florida, spoke passionately about the work of the State Attorney’s office and task forces combating human trafficking. Standing in at the last moment for Dr. Alice Brunner, executive director of the PACE Center for Girls of Lee County, another Zonta partner, was the director of development for PACE, Melissa Simontis. Ms. Simontis spoke about the PACE philosophy of addressing the special needs of girls and received a standing ovation.

As a break from the focus on improving the lives of women, attendees enjoyed a luncheon talk by Dr. Jose Leal, executive director and curator of the Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum, entitled “Shells and the Stories They Tell Us.”

By tradition at each conference, member clubs pledge the portion of funds raised locally that they will send to support the work of Zonta International. This year, with 40 clubs pledging, the amount going to ZI was $65,173, of which $18,750 came from the local club.

The Sanibel influence was prominent: VIP guests received an etched glass token piece by Luc Century, and Island Graphics printed the 54-page program. Conference guests were transported to island restaurants for dinner gatherings on three separate evenings. On the last evening, District Governor Jane Adams installed new area directors, vice directors and district officers for the coming biennium, 2012-2014. She also awarded the coveted Governor’s Cup to the Zonta Club of Naples for outstanding accomplishments during the past year. The runner-up was the Zonta Club of Melbourne.

The Zonta Club of Sanibel/Captiva is a service organization of professional women working together to provide hands-on assistance, advocacy and funds to strengthen women’s lives on the islands, in Lee County and around the world through Zonta International. For more information, visit www.zontasancap.com.