About Us

Zonta International Board Bios

Sharon Langenbeck
President
Zonta Club of Santa Clarita Valley, USA, District 9

Sharon knows firsthand what it means for Zonta to empower women. After being awarded the Amelia Earhart Fellowship in 1977 and 1978 as a Ph.D. student in mechanical and aerospace engineering, she actively sought out membership and joined Zonta in 1979. Since then she has served in many leadership positions, including International Amelia Earhart Fellowship Committee chairman, international director, vice president and president-elect. In her professional career, she worked in large, diverse matrix organizations, which required leadership and management skills to meet the competing and highly demanding tasks of numerous projects and programs. Sharon’s desire to give back to Zonta for awarding her the Fellowships is what keeps her motivated to support Zonta’s work for women’s equality. As international president, Sharon’s focus is to strategically maximize Zonta’s effectiveness in empowering women by providing educational opportunities for women and girls to achieve economic independence, eliminating violence against women, and engaging young professionals and Zonta awardees in the organization.

Ute Scholz
President-Elect
Zonta Club of Verden, Germany, District 27

As member of the Zonta International and Zonta Foundation for Women Board since 2016 and a Zontian for 27 years, Ute has learned the details surrounding the cooperation with Zonta’s partners worldwide and how to evaluate goals, especially when she visited the Let Us Learn Madagascar project in 2019. Thanks to her more than 20 years of executive business experience, she knows how to develop strategies to raise money and to find ways to implement special goals. To Ute, Zonta is widely recognized as a human rights organization, focusing on equal rights for women and girls. It is an organization whose goals are supported by women and men alike because it becomes more and more evident that gender equality will benefit the global community. She feels well-educated women, who can develop their full potential, are the backbone of every society.

Salla Tuominen
Vice President
Zonta Club of Helsinki I, Finland, District 20

Salla is a third-generation Zontian since 2005 and a member of the Zonta Club of Helsinki I. 

Salla sees Zonta as teamwork. She considers it an achievement that she has been trusted and deemed as a reasonable Zonta leader, having been able to create a relaxed, positive, active and efficient atmosphere while keeping the future of Zonta in view.

During the biennium of 2018-2020 she was a member of the Board of Directors of Zonta International and Zonta Foundation for Women (Director). Before that, she has served as a member of the international Advocacy Committee and governor, lieutenant governor, area director, vice area director and district secretary of Zonta International District 20 covering Finland and Estonia. 

Salla has a master’s degree in law from University of Helsinki. She is a partner at the international law firm DLA Piper, where she specializes in corporate law, mergers and acquisitions, and capital markets transactions. Further, her focus is on sustainable, environmental, social and governance issues in the business. In autumn 2019 she was awarded by Finnish Bar Association as one of the legal influencers in Finland on her work for advancing status of women and girls through Zonta International.

Mari McKenzie
Treasurer/Secretary
Zonta Club of Saginaw, USA, District 15

Zonta has given Mari opportunity. Leading her Zonta club as president and serving on committees as chair provided her with organization skills and tools for leading meetings efficiently and effectively in a board or committee setting. Mari’s experience as a certified public accountant includes 36 years as a not-for-profit auditor and business consultant and four years on the firm's board of directors. She also has more than 36 years' experience as both a Zontian and advocate for ending violence against women. She truly believes that women's rights are human rights, and her personal goals are for gender equality around the world, feeling that anything less than that is unacceptable. Zonta's platform for empowering women through service and advocacy is a way for Mari to add her voice and provide her time, talent and financial support.  

Hortense Chékété
Director
Zonta Club of Cotonou, Benin, District 18

Hortense joined Zonta as charter member of the Zonta Club of Cotonou almost 20 years ago. She served at all levels of leadership, leading up to governor, where she learned how to manage a district, have effective team cohesion, and listen to others while avoiding making hasty decisions. Her recent positions as a member of the International Nominating and Membership Committees gave her experience in terms of knowledge of Zonta International rules and procedures. She learned to understand and manage cultural differences by showing respect and empathy. As an orthoptist, Hortense works with ophthalmologists to prevent and eradicate blindness among children, which has helped her develop the ability to work as a team on important patient issues. Through these experiences, she is fulfilled by setting clear goals, better management, planning and good teamwork.

Souella Cumming
Director
Zonta Club of Wellington, New Zealand, District 16

As she has stepped into leadership roles at all levels of Zonta, Souella’s focus has been on ensuring that Zonta remains relevant by supporting membership and advocacy initiatives and ensuring clubs adapt to changing member expectations. She has actively supported a stronger focus on advocacy, which has enhanced Zonta's role as a strong voice at the table in regard to the legislative agenda for women's rights and issues. Souella’s 38-year career in accounting, finance and consulting roles provides her with a broad range of skills, including recruitment, career development and performance management; financial and risk management; and managing the delivery of professional services to a wide range of clients in the public and private sectors. Souella is proud of the contributions she has made to growing club membership and enhancing the profile and media coverage for Zonta across Australasia. 

Florence Fischer-Herber
Director
Zonta Club of Luxembourg, Luxembourg, District 27

Florence has always seen herself as a team player and is engaged in contributing to improvements in daily life. Her greatest challenge in Zonta was her unexpected promotion to D27 Governor in 2015, due to the resignation of the former governor. Through this experience she gained pleasure and satisfaction working with her board as a team while building strong bonds of friendship. As a teacher of English, Florence not only motivated her pupils to learn the language and taught them the use of it in the best accessible way, but also encouraged them to become responsible people in life. Florence believes each Zontian should be an ambassador of our advocacy efforts. She also thinks that recruiting young members is essential to ensure the future of Zonta and firmly encouraged the creation of Z and Golden Z clubs in her district, proudly attending four charter ceremonies from 2017-2019.

Fernanda Gallo-Freschi
Director
Zonta Club of Milano-Sant Ambrogio, Italy, District 28

Fernanda, a second-generation Zontian, has been with the organization for ten years, progressively taking on leadership roles at the club, district and international level. Throughout her experiences, she has increased membership, chartered clubs, created websites, encouraged donations to 100% club involvement, networked with past Amelia Earhart fellows and established good relations with neighboring districts and countries. Professionally, Fernanda is an engineer with an international research background, currently responsible for project management on environment, workplace health and safety and energy management systems for industrial entities. Through her career and experiences sitting on the board of other organizations, Fernanda brings multi-language skills, speaking four languages, and an overall knowledge of cultures and women’s issues. She would like to see Zonta build a sustainable, inclusive club life for all generations, inspiring a lifelong membership feeling, and develop new alliances to enhance our advocacy and service programs.

Akiko Kinoshita
Director
Zonta Club of Kitakyushu, Japan, District 26

Akiko believes in Zonta’s mission. Raised by a mother who was devoted to advancing women's status, she learned what gender equality is about growing up. Attending two Earth Summits, the Beijing Women's Conference and three CSWs, she gained more knowledge about women's issues. As founder, president and CEO of a gender-equal company that teaches languages and organizes/manages international conferences, Akiko makes sure that service exceeds expectations. Working with her team, she clearly defines her targets and goals and makes sure her team is positive and happy. Akiko hopes to make Zonta more visible and let the world know what a great organization it is to work in achieving a totally gender-equal society. And, she hopes Zontians realize the joy and significance of being a part of the organization.

Dorte Olesen
Director
Zonta Club of Copenhagen I, Denmark, District 13

Dorte is a mathematician with passions both for advancing science and technology and for empowering women – and the two have gone hand in hand through her professional career and her work for Zonta at many levels of the organization.  She feels strongly about ensuring good education for girls all over the world and finds it crucial that girls are not scared of entering studies in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, commonly referred to as STEM. In her professional life she has held top leadership positions at universities as well as in the public and private sector in Denmark over many years and has been awarded the Order of Knight of Dannebrog of the first degree (Gold Cross) by the Danish Queen.  Both professionally and in her work for Zonta at different levels she has a good track record of creating growth. Working on big international collaborative projects in information technology has given her experience in understanding the challenges in international collaboration of having different cultural and professional backgrounds and also how to use such differences constructively. Dorte encourages clubs to collaborate more, both by sharing experiences and sometimes joining forces in bigger projects at the area and district level.

Ina Waesserling
Director
Zonta Club of Erfurt, Germany, District 14

Ina sees the necessity of building networks and joining forces to achieve successes by listening to different positions and bringing them together for the common goal. As the Zonta Club of Erfurt’s charter president, Ina not only led her club, but established it within the local advocacy network. While she was her district’s advocacy chair, she held workshops on how to encourage clubs to take more action. While she was governor, she put more impact on broadening the knowledge of club members by choosing chairs also according to regional influence. As a self-employed architect, Ina brings skills of time management, structural thinking, solution-orientated creativity and planning. Her focus for Zonta includes the next generation within international activities as well as ongoing peaceful cultural diversity from the local up to the global level.

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