On the Town: Zontians welcome an inspiring journalist

While members of the Zonta Club of Burbank themselves make for a roster of inspiring women who, in myriad ways, have contributed to the betterment of Burbank and the surrounding area, the organization’s monthly dinners have a history of presenting a keynote speaker who can even inspire the inspired.

That was certainly the case as the local Zontains and their guests welcomed journalist Esha Chhabra to their September gathering at the Holiday Inn Burbank - Media Center last week.

Introduced by local Zontian president Grace Farenbaugh, Chhabra is a world-renowned journalist who has made headlines around the globe for her in-depth reporting on the effort to eradicate polio in India and the mHealth program — the use of mobile communication devices, such as mobile phones, tablet computers and personal digital assistants to provide health services and information.

A graduate of Georgetown University and the London School of Economics, Chhabra, who now lives in Ventura County, is a regular contributor to numerous newspapers and magazines including the New York Times, the Guardian, the Economist, Forbes and the Atlantic.

She was welcomed to last week’s event by Zontians including Nickie Bonner, Donna Anderson, Jennifer Wyatt, Sharon Cohen and Brenda Lantieri.

Among the other members and guests who enjoyed the enlightening evening were Marva Murphy, Marje Simay, Katherine Richards, Glenda Jones, Lucy Burgdorf, Gloria Salas, Samantha Mielke, Alisa Cunningham, Julie Woll, Brittany Vaughan and Carolyn Cole.

For 77 years, the Zonta Club of Burbank has been identifying issues affecting the status of women in and around the community. Since its chartering in 1936, the organization has brought together business executives and professionals willing to volunteer their time to raise funds, advocate and provide direct service to women in need.

Members of the organization are currently preparing for their annual Burbank Woman of the Year luncheon. This year’s event, which will be held on Nov. 2 at the Castaway restaurant, will honor Luther Burbank Middle School teacher Rebecca Mieliwocki, who was named National Teacher of the Year in 2012 and honored by President Barack Obama at a White House ceremony.

Along with their annual Burbank Woman of the Year presentation, local Zontians have raised and distributed more than $100,000 in the past decade.

Those funds have been used for instituting programs to help women overcome adversities, that grant scholarships, mentor high school students and provide books on women's achievements to local school libraries.

The group has also established rose gardens at the Buena Vista and Northwest library branches and has assisted with financial support for the work of the Burbank Family Services Agency and the Burbank Temporary Aid Center.

For more information about the work of the Zonta Club of Burbank, to find out who the speakers will be at the group’s monthly dinners or to purchase advance tickets for the 2013 Women of the Year luncheon, visit the organization’s website at www.zontaburbank.org.


DAVID LAURELL may be reached by email at dlaurell@aol.com or (818) 563-1007.

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