Zonta International History

Marian de Forest is named the first charter President in Buffalo, New York and the four other members are made officers. In the next months, clubs are chartered in Rochester, Binghamton, Elmira and Syracuse, New York. They were followed soon after by Pennsylvania, Ithaca and Utica, New York and Detroit, Michigan.

The Confederation of Zonta Clubs is born and Mary Jenkins is elected the first President (1919-1921) on November 8, 1919, by four representatives from each club. A constitution and bylaws are adopted. By the end of the year there were more than 600 members recruited.

On April 10, 1920, Districts are outlined and district chairmen (later called governors) are formed. The first issue of the Zontian is published in June. In October, the Presidents of all the clubs met in Buffalo to pass a resolution that Zonta Clubs will “take for their specific aim, education and constructive work for girls and young women.”

Ester Parker (1921-1922) was elected the next President and the Zonta Code of Ethics is adopted.

Marian de Forest is elected as President (1924-25). Harriet Richards becomes the first executive Secretary and serves for close to 30 years.
1927 Zonta Niagara Falls Club which includes both US and Canadian members becomes the first International club.

1928 In January, Zonta establishes its first permanent headquarters in Chicago, IL. Later that year, Zonta clubs are formed in Auckland, New Zealand and Sydney, Australia.

1929 Nina Brodrick Price conducts a Zonta Friendship Tour in hopes of establishing several European Clubs.

1930 Vienna, Austria becomes the first European club. Zonta moves from “Confederation of Zonta Clubs” to Zonta International and becomes incorporated in Chicago, IL. Zonta and Zontian become trademarked.
1932 The economic depression becomes global yet Zonta clubs still manage to pay their dues.

Zonta adds 8 new clubs. Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, England and France.

1934 – Canada hosts the first Convention held outside the US. The convention honors Marion de Forest and the Buffalo club during their 15 year anniversary

1935 – Marion de Forest dies and the convention establishes the Status of Women Committee in her honor.

1938 – After the disappearance of Amelia Earhart, Zonta establishes the Amelia Earhart Fund later changed to the Amelia Earhart Fellowship Award Fund

1940 – Growth in Zonta slows because of the depression of the ’30s. There are 140 clubs in the US, 6 clubs in Canada and 6 clubs in Europe with a total of 4,500 members

1941 – As the US enters WWII, Zonta lets President Roosevelt know that they are 100 percent with him in all defense work of our Country

1948 – The first Z club is established in Burbank, California at Burbank High School

1949 – Zonta has grown to 7,200 members and 200 clubs

1950 – At the Miami Beach convention, an amendment to the constitution was made to begin the two year term international officers, district governors and standing committee chairmen.

1952 – Effective with the Houston, TX convention, Zonta International conventions will be held biannually. Zonta adopts its second service project. The “Friendship Project” matches club around the world for cultural and professional exchange.

1954 – Zonta receives special commendation from the US Treasury Department for promoting during and after the war.

1956 – Zonta has more than 12,000 members and 379 clubs in fourteen countries.

1957 – Zonta becomes more concerned with the plight of older career women. Clubs are asked to do a study of older and retired women.

1959 – Zonta is publicized for the first time via the television airways by the Zonta Club of Buffalo, New York.

1960 – The Anne Frank Village is adopted as the international biennial service project. This is to mark the United Nations International Year of the Refugee.

1961 – The Emma L Conlon Z Club Service Award Project is inaugurated.

1962 – District 14 is established making two Districts in Europe. The Governors of these Districts are granted seats on the International Board.

1963 – Zonta is granted official UN-affiliated NGO status.

1968- Helvi Sipila is elected as the first non-North American International President. Zonta’s service projects reach $1 million in contributions.

1969 – More than 20,000 members from 560 clubs in 33 countries celebrate Zonta’s Golden Anniversary.

1970 – Zonta celebrates its 40th anniversary of its first club in Europe.

1972 – Zonta receives consultative status with the UN International Children’s Fund (UNICEF), to promote closer relations between the UN and Zonta clubs.

1973 – In California, Zonta clubs push for the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment which would prohibit sexual discrimination in all segments of public life.

1974 – The Boston convention is the first with simultaneous translation in 3 languages. Gloria Steinem gives the keynote address.

1975- President Eleanor Jammal and Harriet Yeckel serve as Zonta’s delegates to the UN International Women’s Year Conference in Mexico City.

1976 – Zonta’s first convention is held off the North American continent in Germany.

1979 – Zonta has 750 clubs in forty-six countries on six continents.

1980 – Shirley Schneider is elected as International President at the Washington D.C. convention. Zonta’s float in the Rose Bowl Parade made of yellow roses wins a prize.

1981 – Zonta’s first study tour is conducted in Asia. The tour encourages cultural exchange among the professional women of Zonta.

1982 – Danny Kaye, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, is given Zonta’s first Humanitarian Award. Zontian Alva Myrdal, Stockholm, is co-winner of the Nobel Peace Prize for her patient and meticulous work undertaken in international negotiations on disarmament. Zonta now has 900 clubs in 50 countries and 32,000 members.

1983 – Zonta is granted consultative status by the Council of Europe.

1984- The “Zonta Woman Study” is commissioned to examine the factors which contribute to the success of executive women.

1985 – Zonta is granted Category I status by the UN ECOSOC, a position that only 34 out of 491 international organizations hold.

1986 – Zonta becomes the first NGO to support UNIFEM. Zonta purchases its World Headquarters at 557 West Randolph in Chicago, IL.

1988 – After the US Supreme Court rules that Rotary International rules that they must admit women, Zonta changes its bylaws to allow individual clubs to invite men to become members.

Zonta welcomes its 1,000th club in Lome, Togo

1989 – Zonta turns 70.

1991 – Szombathely, Hungary becomes the first Eastern European Zonta Club. By September, Zonta has 34,483 members in 1082 clubs in 61 countries.

1992 – Corazon Aquino president of the Republic of the Philippines, gives the keynote address at the convention in Hong Kong.

1993 – Zontians around the world decry the horrific treatment of people in the civil war between Bosnia-Herzegovina and the Serbian government.

1994 – Chief Folake Solanke is elected president in Detroit. Faloke not only becomes the first African president in Zonta but the first African woman to head an international service organization in the world.

1995- Zonta International conducts its first Summit on Violence Against Women (ZISVAW) in Washington D.C.

1996 – After a three- and one-half-year campaign, Zonta International Foundation raises US $1 million and pays off the mortgage of the World Headquarters building in Chicago

1997– Zonta now includes 1,100 clubs in 69 counties with 35,000 members.

1998 – ZISVAW is adopted as an ongoing service project at the Paris Convention. Zonta celebrates the 60th anniversary of the Amelia Earhart Foundation having given 843 fellowships to 547 fellows from 51 countries totaling $4.2 million.

1999 – The Zonta International Jane M Klausman Women in Business Scholarship Program is established.

2000 – With the addition of Cameroon, Guinea and Benin Zonta is in 71 countries around the world.

2004 – Zonta welcomes clubs in Germany, Norway, Netherlands, Australia, Switzerland and Russia and 4 new Z Clubs. Zonta now is 1,253 strong.

2005 – Zonta Club of Toronto remembers charter member Doris Tucker who passed away at age 93 with an award to fund women’s education. The club raised $75,000.00 CAD with matching funds from the Canadian Government and a private donation.

2006 – Zonta celebrates its 85th birthday and the 70th anniversary of Amelia Earhart’s flight from California to Hawaii.

2007 – Zonta takes a position on Trafficking of Women and Girls. Zonta asks clubs to be effective advocates and opinion leaders on this issue by partnering with like minded groups to inform the public.

2008 – Zonta Convention is in Rotterdam and Zonta International asks all members to register on the website.

2009– One of Zonta’s service projects for the biennium is reducing Obstetric Fistula in Liberia. Of the 536,000 maternal deaths in 2005, 99 percent were in developing countries.

2010 – Zonta initiates Say No – Unite End Violence against Women campaign. Its goal is to collectively reach 100,000 actions by March.

2011 – Welcome 12 new Zonta Clubs, 8 Z Clubs and 1 Golden Z Club bringing the total as of June to 1,203 clubs in 64 countries.

2012 – Zonta supports lifesaving activities for people living with HIV and domestic violence in Rwanda.

2014 – Zonta adds 4 new clubs, 13 new Z clubs and 6 new Golden Z clubs. Conviction, Commitment and Courage are the buzz words to attract new members.

2015 – From Awareness to Action, Zontians unite around the world to end violence against women November 25 – December 10.

2016 – The Voice of Zonta is kickstarted with the refreshed mission and vision for Zonta. Create a strong consistent brand. Increase awareness of Zonta and the impact of our work worldwide. Provide Zonta members the tools, guidance and content the need to represent Zonta in a consistently branded fashion.

2017– Zonta clubs are encouraged to use the HeForShe platform to engage men and boys in their communities to join Zonta International as equal partners in our mission to empower women and girls and achieve gender equality.

2018 – Why Zonta? The Golden Circle. Why do we do What we do? We believe in making the world a better place by working gender equality in a supportive community of like-minded people. How do we do what we do? Through service and advocacy in our communities and internationally. What do we do? WE EMPOWER WOMEN

2019- The best is yet to come. Celebrating 100 years.