Member Spotlight – Darleen Lyons

In 1988, three Santa Clarita Zontians - Jami Kennedy, Pat Allen, and Barbara Cochran (then Stearns) - argued amongst themselves about which one would be given credit for bringing in a new and already respected new member, Darleen (then Determan) Lyons. Today, every member knows this amazing example of Zonta leadership as someone who is deeply involved in club operations through the club website, Girls' Robotics, Parliamentarian, perpetual event Treasurer, and so much more.

Our club's second two-time president (Carmen Sarro was first), Darleen Lyons epitomizes how Zonta SCV develops leadership in its members. When she joined the club, two members, Carmen and Jo Anne Darcy, took Darleen under their wings and saw that she became emersed in Zonta and in community activities. She couldn't say "no" to either woman, so whatever they asked her to help with, she did. Memorable volunteering in the community were the Senior Center's Wine Auction and the Boys and Girls Club Auction. But let's go back and review her earlier history.

Darleen has "come a long way" from her birthplace of Atascadero where her father delivered gasoline in the San Luis Obispo area. Her dad was transferred with Chevron/Standard Oil to Inglewood in 1960, and the whole family, including Darleen and her younger brother and sister, made the move to Southern California. After graduation from Morningside High, she went to work learning inventory control, accounting and management. She attended El Camino College studying data processing, but realizing that she wasn't being inspired, she devoted herself instead to learning as much as she could while on the job. She married in 1969 and moved to Maryland with her husband, who was in the air force and stationed at Camp David.

When he left the military in 1970, the couple moved to Granada Hills and found themselves living next door to Herb Williams, who many in our community will know from the Santa Clarita Boys and Girls Club Auction. That is how her Santa Clarita, and Zonta life, actually began. With encouragement from Williams, the couple finally relocated to Newhall/Valencia in 1976, pre-dating the formation of the City of Santa Clarita. What did she do when she moved here? Volunteer for the Boys and Girls Club, of course! In those days, volunteering for the B&G Club was all hands on deck, and Darleen quickly became the "Queen of the Bid Boards". This meant helping to organize the huge silent auction and creating the large posters hung all along the enormous gallery walls at CalArts that displayed the hundreds and hundreds of items with descriptions, art work and room for bidding. Then she took on registration for many many years until her "retirement" from the auction committee.

Darleen, a normally shy person, organized the bid board project with military precision and aplomb, and that is how she was spotted as a potentially successful Zontian. How right that was! In the beginning, she didn't think she could be a leader. But in addition to twice being the president of our club, this 32-year member took a chance and grew into leadership. First Jo Anne Darcy encouraged her to run for Nominating Committee. Next she was encouraged to run for VP of Programs, and then she tried for VP of Membership. After those three leadership roles, she agreed to run for President Elect. During that training year, she was learning every day. Each time she learned something new, she would write it on a big note and place it in a prominent spot in her home. Before long the house was covered in notes. Each time she passed one, the reading of the note reinforced her knowledge. Since that first term as president she has worked on board and member engagement. She believes that the more established members have a duty to help those newer members to develop their leadership skills.

She was the leading force behind the formation of our Foundation for which she has served many times as Treasurer and Trustee. She served as District 9 Treasurer for many years, and of course she has been Club Treasurer multiple times. During Dianne Curtis's biennium as Zonta International President, Darleen served on the International Service Committee. She was named Zonta SCV Zontian of the Yar for 2017/2018.

Along the way, Darleen's professional life also continued to grow in leadership. She developed her accounting skills leading to office management, accounts payable, and controller. She worked at Pauling & Company and then Kitsinian, two jewelry companies, starting as a "peon" and moving up the ladder of achievement, finally to controller at Comco in Burbank. In 1996, her first marriage broke up, and she met a wonderful man, Bill Lyons, who also worked at Comco. Darleen and Bill were married in 1998 at a lovely garden wedding at Le Chene which was attended by many Zontians.

Today, every Zontian knows Darleen as Treasurer for every event. We also know her as website chair, an activity that was absolutely outside of her comfort zone. She works virtually with our webmaster, Eve Lyman, who lives in Guatemala. She is happy now that she has been joined in the effort by Nicole Miller. She no longer wants a job that puts her in Zonta's spotlight. She wants to help where she can, and when she gets excited about something, she jumps in all the way. Darleen loves to teach and really misses our Girls' Robotics program. She says she will resume working with the girls when the program comes back after the pandemic, because she has more fun doing it than all the other committee work. Before Robotics, Darleen chaired the Healthy Kids Club for 3 years.

In her non-Zonta life, Darleen has been volunteering two days a week at the Senior Center for over 5 years preparing and packaging Home Delivered Meals (during Covid-19 they serve more than 1100 meals per day); she and Bill run a "Science Hour" program at the Boys & Girls Club once a week guiding the kids through hands-on science experiments hoping to build an interest in STEM for the future; and the couple contributes substantially to a College of the Canyons fund that provides physics and calculus textbooks to student members of MESA, a student group interested in mathematics, engineering and scientific achievement.

As you can see, Darleen Lyons personifies the ideal of leadership. She steps up when needed and is more than happy to give praise to others who are also involved. It is the results that matter to her, not her personal recognition. She is involved every day in improving the community. We honor her personal achievements even though such praise makes her uncomfortable. Thank you for the example you set, Darleen. We are very proud of you.

Written by Lois Bauccio

Nov 2020