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Hilo Resident Elected Governor for Zonta District 9

September 13, 2016, 12:46 PM HST
* Updated September 13, 1:07 PM
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Mele Spencer (R) and outgoing District 9 Governor Nikki Bonner (L), at Zonta International Convention in Nice, France. Zonta courtesy photo.

Mele Spencer (R) and outgoing District 9 Governor Nikki Bonner (L), at Zonta International Convention in Nice, France. Zonta courtesy photo.

Mele Spencer has assumed the volunteer post of Zonta International District 9 governor for the 2016-18 term.

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

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 Hawai‘i, 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 Hawai‘i 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.

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

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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.

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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 to 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.

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