Zontian of the Year in our club's highest award given to one of our members. This award is for outstanding service, committment and dedication to Zonta. It looks at all years, not just the prior year, and a persons level of giving to our club and community.

Nicole Miller - 2024

Nicole Miller has been awarded the 2024 Zontian of the Year Award by the Zonta Club of Santa Clarita Valley. The award recognizes Nicole’s substantial contributions to the club, in particular Nicole’s devotion to the club’s motto: Build A Better World for Women And Girls.

When asked what of her substantial Zonta achievements gave her the most satisfaction, without hesitation Nicole responded: “Membership and the growth of the high school Z Clubs and the COC Golden Z Club!” And she was not joking!

Under Nicole’s leadership, the Zonta Club of Santa Clarita has doubled its membership just in the past two years! And while the club’s membership now stands at about 70 local women leaders, it is the qualities of the new members and their commitments to leadership and service that are most impressive. Nicole set out to attract a diverse and talented group of active business and volunteer leaders to join and contribute to the SCV community through Zonta, and she succeeded! These new members are now active in the club’s service projects, serving as committee chairs, and serving on the newly installed 2024 boards of both the Zonta Club and the Zonta Club Foundation. One Zonta member noted in her nomination of Nicole for the Zonta Club’s most prestigious award, that she “was extremely impressed with the level of knowledge Nicole had about the strengths and expertise of each of the more than 30 new members. Nicole clearly cares about each of these women.”

At the same time the club membership has skyrocketed, so have the Club’s youth service projects! Just in the past year, the Zonta Club added a Z Club at Castaic High School and a Golden Z Club at College of the Canyons to its growing roster of youth clubs, which also includes Golden Valley Z Club, Canyon High School Z Club, and West Ranch Z Club. The two retreats focused on strengthening connections between the four clubs and their members, and collaborative planning for their first community-wide service project, a mental health fair for local youth.

And these Zonta youth service clubs have been busy! In addition to their home school activities, the clubs have come together for leadership and service opportunities at joint leadership retreats and events in August 2023 and February 2024.

Separately, as its first service project, the COC Golden Z Club co-sponsored the April COC Community Resource Fair, in which 30 nonprofit organizations participated to showcase their missions and projects to the Sta. Clarita Community. An outstanding success!

Nicole recently was elected Lt. Governor of Zonta’s District 9, comprising five western states, and has served as District Chair for Z Clubs and Golden Z Clubs. She also volunteers as board president of Santa Clarita Valley International (SCVi) school.

Congratulations, Nicole, and thank you!

Dr. Cherise Moore - 2023

Dr. Cherise Moore

Dr. Cherise Moore has been honored with the prestigious Zontian of the Year award for her exemplary service to the Zonta Club and the SCV Community for the fiscal year of 2022 - 2023!

Cherise has been a member of Zonta for fourteen years and has served in many leadership capacities. She has served on the Boards of Directors for the Club and the Foundation, and currently serves as the Foundation President.

This past year, Cherise has taken the Club’s programs for teens to new heights. She successfully combined her love for education and service to Zonta!

Cherise has been instrumental in the creation, installation, mentoring, and guidance of Zonta’s four youth clubs: Golden Valley HS Z Club, Canyon HS Z Club, West Ranch HS Z Club, and College of the Canyons Golden Z Club.  Her dedication to the youth of the Santa Clarita Valley has been critical to the development of these clubs, which provide opportunities for young adults to develop communication and leadership skills, explore career alternatives, and increase their civic and international awareness through service.  As co-chair of this committee, Cherise participates and co-leads meetings for the academic advisors every 5 weeks. At the same time, she co-manages the Zonta Z Club/Golden Z Club committee and has achieved significant member involvement with these youth clubs.

Most importantly, Cherise took the lead in creating and producing an inaugural event in August 2023 to bring together youth from the four schools at the first annual Zonta Z Club and Golden Z Club Leadership Retreat. Cherise designed the retreat to help the officers and advisors of each Z and Golden Z Club learn more about effective leadership, service opportunities, mentoring, and collaboration. It was well-attended and a roaring success!

While the Zontian of the Year Award focusses on honoring outstanding service in the past year, it also notes a member’s contributions to the community. Cherise’s contributions are legendary!

Cherise’s community service includes:

• Trustee and Past President, William S. Hart Union High School District Board of Trustees;
• Elected member and immediate past chair, L.A. County Committee on School District Organization, and representative on the California School Boards Association Delegate Assembly;
• First Vice President of Programs and Past Financial Reviewer, Santa Clarita Valley Council PTA;
• Parliamentarian, Santa Clarita/Antelope Valley Chapter of Jack and Jill of America, Inc.;
• Immediate Past President, Golden Oak Community School PTA;
• Board member and Past Chair, WiSH Education Foundation; and
• Board member and President-Elect, Bridge to Home Homeless Services.

When she is not busy volunteering, Cherise is a lifelong educator, having served in the Hart School District and with the Burbank Unified School District, among others. She currently serves as Principal Researcher with the American Institutes for Research, a nonprofit, nonpartisan behavioral and social science research, evaluation, and technical assistance organization based in Arlington, Virginia. In this role, Cherise conducts research, training and technical assistance on career technical education, adult education, post-secondary education, and equity and access.

Cherise and her husband, U.S. Navy Veteran, Paul Charles, are blessed with four children and two grandchildren. They also own Charles Wine Company, where they enjoy watching how great wine brings people together, all over the world.

Congratulations, Cherise, you are an inspiration to us all!

Cindy Kittle - 2022

Cindy Kittle was selected as Zontian of the Year for 2021-2022. Cindy’s involvement in our Zonta club is long. She has been an active member many years and served as President 2009-2010. She has served on the SCV Zonta Foundation and as chair of numerous committees, including Founding Chair of LifeForward along with Jorja Harris. The highlight for our club, however, is that Cindy brought Lunafest to the SCV, and was responsible for contacting LUNAFEST in 2011 to get permission for Zonta to be the only nonprofit to show the films in Santa Clarita.

True to the title, “Zontian of the Year”, Cindy created a new event for our club in 2021 to celebrate our 10th anniversary of Lunafest. Literally from the ground up she developed and pulled off an outstanding fundraising event, Zonta Celebrates Women in Film Celebration and Conference. This project included developing a new relationship with local women in our local film industry and honoring them in a glittering awards event, producing the screening of the 2021 Lunafest films at our local Laemmle Theater, and following up the evening with a Saturday conference for local young women who want to get into the film industry, all of which received unparalleled publicity for the club. All during the midst of a pandemic when most members of the club had not seen each other in person for nearly 2 years!

To pull off the event, Cindy worked with her dedicated co-chairs, Fran Fiel and Lois Bauccio, and several supportive club members. She demonstrated extreme leadership and dedication, flying back and forth from Texas and staying with dear Zonta friends for extended over-nights. She met with the City of Santa Clarita and the County of Los Angeles, both of which gave the club financial sponsorship for the club’s first time. She also identified and met with filmmakers and studio executives and secured support and sponsorships. Eleven women media executives were honored at the Celebration! Many of them and several women from film-related trade unions were speakers at the Conference. The workshop that Cindy created was nominated to be a highlighted service project at the 2022 Zonta International Convention, a first for our club.

The work Cindy did for WIF is truly unparalleled. Sponsorships, ticket sales, marketing, designing a fun and innovative event that helped Zonta shine and gain respect in the community, and much much more were accomplished by her efforts.

Cindy has also served on the Zonta District 9 Board, as Secretary and Parliamentarian 2010-2012, Bylaws Chair for several years, and on the District Finance Committee. In 2012-2016, she was selected to serve on the Zonta International and Zonta International Foundation Investment Committees.

Cindy has remained active in our club despite her move to Texas a few years ago. She has designed several Zonta Installations (notable: Snap, Crackle, Pop for Nicole Miller, and Encore! Encore! for JoAnn Rodriguez (featuring a hilarious parody of “Some Enchanted Zontian” sung by Bill Lively). She is a major donor to ZI, and she keeps an active relationship with numerous club members in clubs throughout the district, as well as globally.

Cindy also has been a dedicated volunteer with Santa Claritanonprofits and served on the Governing Board and the Executive Committee of the Boys & Girls Club of SCV. She is a longtime member of the main “L.A. 5” Rotary Club in downtown L.A.

Cindy began her career in her twenties as a licensed broker with Merrill Lynch, a pioneering role at the time. Following law school, she clerked for the Hon. Paul Kelly, U.S. Court of Appeals, 10thCircuit. She then specialized in securities litigation and served 14 years as Senior Counsel for the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).

Congratulations Cindy, you are a shining star to us!

Edna Fernandez - 2021

Edna was a very active member 10 years ago as a young mom of a son. She joined and became involved in almost every committee and helped on all of them. Edna's professional life took hold and she had to back away from non-profits until her business was more established. Edna was very involved in the State Women's Insurance organization and became a leader for many years.

After her daughter was born and growing up, she wanted to give back and joined Zonta again and with a gung-ho attitude. She has been very involved in PR for the club this year, taking it to a new level. She put Zonta on the map, so now you can find us in places like LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram.  Also on the map are new ideas, Membership Monday, Women Wednesday, Throwback Thursday and Flashback Friday all located on social media. And locally, she has put us on all the community calendars in town: City of Santa Clarita, KHTS, Inside SCV Magazine, Santa Clarita Magazine, the Signal, and SCV Non-Profits event calendar.  We have press releases monthly if not more often in all the local media. If that is not enough, Edna has written most of the blogs that are posted on our website and on social media.  Thanks to Edna and her PR committee, the whole of Santa Clarita knows who and what Zonta is.

Edna runs a very professional PR committee meeting, featuring a detailed agenda and limited to one hour. If we finish early, then we have social time, but that’s it - one hour.

Edna was born in Cebu, Philippines and moved to Chicago before she was 1 year old.  At the age of 10, her family moved back to the Philippines where she attended an International School.  Then at the age of 17, Edna moved back to the US.  She received a B.A. in Economics from UCLA at the age of 21 and at 29, received my MBA while maintaining a full-time career in the insurance industry & raising a family.

After losing her father at a very young age from a heart attack, her mother’s struggle with breast cancer, and Edna’s own inability to conceive, she began her own company, The Wellness Institute, which focuses on holistic health & wellness.  Prior to that she worked in the insurance business becoming President of the LA Chapter of the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors, founding President of the LA Chapter of Women in Insurance and Financial Services. She was a busy young lady!

She has served as a director on the club board 2010-2011. Upon returning to Zonta in 2019, she asked what she could do and it was suggested she run for the club secretary position, which she did. Like everything Edna does, she took the secretary very seriously and detailed all of the club board and business meetings thoroughly.  She did not miss anything. Committees she has served on include Women in Service, JMK, YWPA, Virginia Wrage and Healthy Women’s Day.

Now another surprise.  We are pleased to present this certificate to Ella Fernandez as our Zontian In Training.  Ella has accompanied Edna everywhere, proudly wearing her Zonta shirt.  Some day she will make a great Zontian and hopefully as a member of our club.

Edna is very quiet and private, but has a heart of gold and loves helping others in any way she can. Our club is very fortunate to have Edna as a member, along with her beautiful daughter, Ella, our Zontian in Training.

 

 

Francine Fiel - 2020

Our Zonta club held their annual installation via ZOOM as a result of Covid-19.  It was a lot of fun and one of the highlights is Zontian of the Year.

She has been on the several committees such as Advocacy, Lunafest, Membership, Women in service, Sierra Pelona, and Yellow Rose.  She was also the 2018-2020 Annual Awards chair.  She has been on the Club board 2019-2020 and is on the 2020-2021 club board.  Fran is also active with the SCV Child & Family Auxiliary and Buhai Center for Family Law.  In addition she is an attorney.

 

Judy Penman - 2019

Super-active club member and three-time club past president Judy Penman as Zontian of the Year at the annual installation dinner recently at the Oaks Club in Valencia.

Judy as been a member of our Zonta club for 27 years  and has held every position except treasurer. She chaired the 2018 & 2019 Women in Service Celebration brunch and was honored for her consistent support of Zonta's mission of helping all women and children locally and internationally.

In the community, she has been involved with most non-profits in the SCV, starting with Zonta and then Domestic Violence Center, where she is the longest living member of the board for 13 years and president for three years.  She then joined the board of Circle of Hope and served three years as president, continuing with that non-profit as secretary and fundraiser. Judy also joined the WISH Foundation board, serving the Wm. S. Hart Union High School District. She then joined the Assistance League, where she served on the board for four years, two years as philanthropic vice president, and two years as first vice president of resource development.

And if that is not enough, she also ushers at the local Performing Arts Center and is on the board of the Senior Center Advisory Committee, where she is fundraising chair. An active supporter of the Boys and Girls Club, she chaired that organization's annual auction for several years.

One of her nomination forms said, "Judy volunteers because she believes in helping others, however she can. She has been volunteering since she arrived in Santa Clarita, after meeting the dynamic women in Zonta who got her involved in all other events in the community. Judy believes that receiving this award from her peers is one of the best awards she would ever get, as she goes into a new chapter of her life."

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. In making the presentation, committee chair Sue Hayward also announced two honorable mention recipients—Beth Heiserman and Francine Fiel.

Darleen Lyons - 2018

Super-active club member Darleen Lyons was named as Zontian of the Year at the group’s annual installation dinner recently at the Oaks Club (formerly the Tournament Players' Club) in Valencia.

Darleen has served the club as club treasurer for eight years, has been club 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 club's 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, Darleen 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 formal 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.

Congratulations to past Zontians of the Year. We are sorry we do not have detailed information on their contributions, but to us they are VERY important members.

1993-1994 - Adele Macpherson

1994-1995 – Barbara Cochran

2002-2003 – Carmen Sarro

2003-2004 – Alyce Huff

2004-2005 – Jo Ann Rodriguez

2005-2006 – Lois Bauccio

2006-2007 – Chris Miller

2007-2008 – Barbara Cochran

2008-2009 – Nancy Albrecht Tucker

2009-2010 – Peggy Edwards

2010-2011 – Jami Kennedy

2011-2012 – Pat Willett

2012-2013 – Cheryl Wasserman

2013-2014 – Phyllis Walker

2014-2015 – Michelle Woodfork

2015-2016 – Sue Hayward

2016-2017 – Barbara Meyer