During the beautiful weekend of October 7-9th, 109 District 6 Zontians from 23 clubs attended the 2016 District Fall Conference in Oak Brook Illinois. We were privileged to have a guest from ZI Headquarters, Alicia Borsa, Membership Coordinator. With Alicia and the Awards recipients and young women of the Z/Golden Z clubs as Saturday guests, there were almost 115 attendees.
It was a weekend filled with high energy and enthusiasm. It was jump started Friday evening by a great keynote speaker, Denise Barreto, who urged Zontians to tell our story every chance we get. The unexpectedly passionate and mission supportive welcome from Oak Brook President, Dr. Lalmalani, was also well received.
An Open Forum session to discuss the state of our District Conference Friday afternoon, led to a smooth business session Saturday morning where we accepted the proposed 2016-18 District Goals and raised the Conference Assessment to $12.
The conference energy was boosted as our Awards recipients were presented. Kaitlin Raineri received her District JMK scholarship certificate. She is attending Loyola University in Chicago in Accounting. Heather Wiest, an Amelia Earhart Fellowship recipient received her ZI AE certificate and her AE wings. She is attending Purdue University. Both young women are amazing and very thankful for Zonta’s support.
Youthful energy continued with the Z/Golden Z presentation and panel discussion lead by Susan Harmon, Z/Golden Z Club Chair. While Kankakee’s Z Club representatives couldn’t attend, they sent their self produced anti-bullying video for our review. The Lebanon Z Club representatives, Kiersten McCoy and Teresa Perez were nervous but did a great job reviewing their projects and connection to the Lebanon club. The Lincoln sponsored Golden Z Club representative, Allison Hollatz of the University of Illinois spoke on their projects. They then participated in a panel discussion.
Over lunch we had two keynote speakers dealing with Human Trafficking. Dr Cassandra Ma, from Reclaim 13, & Cherish House, discussed their program for rescuing and recovering children trafficked in the sex trades. This was followed by a presentation by Special Agent Donald Suchy, from Immigration and Customs Enforcement, on the definition of trafficking and his role in enforcing the laws dealing with trafficking.
Saturday’s afternoon was devoted to “sharing our stories”. Three breakout sessions presented projects on trafficking by the Zonta Clubs of Kankakee (Truck Wrapping project), Madison (SlaveFree Madison), and Milwaukee (ARTREACH). All three breakouts were designed to share not only the project but also how the clubs went about developing and administering the projects with community partners.
Sunday wrapped up with a joint presentation by Advocacy Chair Gail Zalewski, Service Chair Laura Baker, and PR Chair Konni Rodegheir. Using a fun, interactive game format, they presented Zonta Says No projects from around the world. With this energizing activity and our orange Zonta Says No tee shirts well displayed, the attendees swarmed the hotel escalators for our District Zonta Says No photo.
Thank you all for attending and Adding Your Voices to our Conference. I look forward to seeing everyone at the 2017 Fall Conference hosted by Area 2 Clubs in Madison Wisconsin on October 13-15th.