|Headquarters||Oak Brook, Illinois, United States|
|Marian de Forest (founder) Amelia Earhart (member) Helvi Sipilä (International President 1968)|
The first Zonta Club was founded in Buffalo, New York, the United States, in 1919 by a group of businesswomen under the leadership of Marian de Forest. It was organized along the lines of the Rotary Club, with one woman from each business classification admitted to the local club and all members required to give 60% of their time to the "work under which they are classified". By 1923 clubs had been established in New York City, Washington, D.C., Detroit, Cleveland, and Toledo, Ohio. The National President was Miss Harriet A. Ackroyd of Utica, New York.
The Confederation of Zonta Clubs was formed in 1930. Originally conceived as a female equivalent of the Lions Clubs (an organization that, until 1987, was all-male), Zonta sponsors programs to help women in the field of public affairs and policymaking. It has consultative status with the Council of Europe, the United Nations (UN), ILO, and several UN agencies.
Educational programs and awards
Zonta International seeks to provide opportunities for women through a number of educational programs and awards.
Amelia Earhart Fellowship
Established in 1938 in honor of famed pilot and Zontian Amelia Earhart, the Amelia Earhart Fellowship is awarded annually to women pursuing Ph.D./doctoral degrees in aerospace-related sciences or aerospace-related engineering. The Fellowship of US$10,000, awarded to 35 Fellows around the globe each year, may be used at any university or college offering accredited post-graduate courses and degrees in these fields.
Fellowship recipients include:
Jane M. Klausman Women in Business Scholarship
The Jane M. Klausman Women in Business Scholarship program helps women to pursue undergraduate and master's degrees in business management and to overcome gender barriers from the classroom to the boardroom. Since the program's inception, Zonta has awarded 357 scholarships to women from 47 countries.
Young Women in Public Affairs Award Program
Established in 1990 by Past International President Leneen Forde, the Young Women in Public Affairs Award honors young women aged from 16 to 19 who demonstrate a commitment to leadership in public policy, government and volunteer organizations. The program operates at the Zonta club, district/region and international levels. Zonta clubs provide awards for club recipients, and district/region and international awards are funded by the Zonta International Foundation. District recipients receive US$1,000, and ten international recipients are selected from the district/region recipients to receive awards of US$4,000 each.
Z and Golden Z Clubs
Established in 1948, the Z Club and Golden Z Club program is one of Zonta International's longest-running programs. Z clubs and Golden Z clubs help high-school, college and university students develop leadership skills, promote career exploration and encourage members to participate in community, school and international service projects.
- Alan Axelrod, International Encyclopedia of Secret Societies and Fraternal Orders, New York: Facts on File, Inc., 1997, p. 271.
- Preuss, Arthur, A Dictionary of Secret and other Societies, St. Louis: B. Herder Book Co., 1924; republished Detroit: Gale Reference Company, 1966; pp. 501-2