By Pat Willett, Newhall Community Contributor
Zonta Club of Santa Clarita Valley installed Debra Blakely as its new president for 2018-19, honored outgoing President Judy Penman and named super-active club member Darleen Lyons as Zontian of the Year at the group’s annual installation dinner recently at the Oaks Club in Valencia.
Lyons has served the club as club treasurer for eight years, was president in 1993 and 2006, and has served as both first and second vice presidents of the club. She also has been an active member of the Tribute, Lunafest and golf tournament committees, and was active in former club activities such as Rent-A-Santa, Healthy Woman’s Day and Healthy Kids Club.
On the Zonta International level, Lyons served as District 9 treasurer for four years and was a member of Zonta International’s Service Committee. She and her husband, Bill, have revitalized the Girls Robotics program that Zonta sponsors at the local Boys & Girls Club.
In the community, she has been an active supporter of the SCV Boys & Girls Club auction and science hours, AT&T Golf Tournament, host family for international students, SCV Senior Center’s Celebrity Waiter dinner, Wine Auction and Home Delivered Meals kitchen volunteer, American Red Cross, American Heart Association, and Downtown Newhall’s Western Walk of Fame. She has been named volunteer of the month for the Senior Center in 2016 and Volunteer of the Year for the Boys and Girls Club twice, in 1986 and 2015.
“A member since 1988, Darleen has been a committed Zontian—always at major fundraising events doing check-in for Zonta and (community) fundraising events,” says her nomination. “She is a member that gets things done. She does not complain and works efficiently behind the scenes. She truly loves Zonta and the community.”
Zontian of the Year is selected from member nominations. The final winner is selected not only for her leadership in Zonta, but also in the way she represents the club in the local community. The final selection committee is composed of former honorees.
Blakely was installed as Zonta president by installing officer Sharon Langenbeck, a Zonta International vice president and two-time recipient of Zonta’s Amelia Earhart Fellowship for women pursuing upper level degrees in aerospace and aeronautics–a member of the local club as well as an international dignitary. Blakely chose “Respecting the past and building our future” as her theme for the upcoming year.
Other officers and board members installed at the annual dinner include Barbara Meyer, president-elect; Beth Heiserman, first vice president/programs; Phyllis Walker, second vice president/membership; Adele Macpherson, treasurer; and Nell Campbell, secretary. Incoming and continuing directors include Sue Hayward, Terry Kanowsky, Ronnie Erickson, Alicia Estrada and Pat Warford. Newly installed Nominating Committee members are Darleen Lyons, Gloria Mercado-Fortine and Vicky Tungate.
The evening also served as installation for SCV Zonta Foundation trustees, who include Terry Kanowsky, Barbara Meyer, Christine Sexton, Susan Hayward, Nell Campbell, Francine Fiel, Cathy Gundy, Mary Ree, Judy Penman and Debra Blakely.
Outgoing President Judy Penman was saluted for the club’s outstanding accomplishments under her leadership in the 2017-18 club year. She noted that the SCV club is one of only two Zonta clubs in the world that have donated $50,000 or more to Zonta International during the current biennium. The club brought in $37,000 during the past year to support its service activities, even though the group abandoned its previous major fundraiser, the Tribute dinner.
Theme for Wednesday evening’s installation program was “Debra’s Mad Hatter Tea Party,” celebrating Blakely’s recurring role as hostess to club afternoon tea events. Following Zonta tradition, the installation dinner is organized by a committee composed of all of the club’s active past presidents, and is chaired by last year’s president. All past presidents also donated door prizes, which were awarded to guests throughout the evening.
One first-time addition to this year’s installation program was drawing for a Princess Cruise donated for the club’s fundraising efforts. Darleen Lyons’ ticket was the winner, making it a night of fulfilling surprises for the Zontian of the Year winner.