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The 2024 Rose Award Honored Lorraine Inouye, Hawai’i State Senator

Rose Award Dinner & Fundraiser
March 11, 2024 at 5 pm
Hilo Hawaiian Hotel Moku’ola Ballroom


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The yellow Zonta Rose, commissioned by Zonta International, is a symbol of excellence and friendship.

The Zonta Club of Hilo established the Rose Award of Excellence in 2004 to recognize women in our community, or connected to our community, who have made a significant impact on the lives of others through their employment, volunteer activities, and associations.  Many outstanding women helped shape our community and many strong female leaders continue to contribute their talents and skills to improve the quality of life in this state, nation, and world.  The Rose Award of Excellence seeks to recognize and honor these achievers and to provide visible examples for tomorrow’s female leaders. The honor is presented in March to coincide with International Women’s Day. Nominations are sought from within the Club. The awardee need not be a Zonta member. The biennial award (non-monetary) is usually given on even years.

Previous Recipients

2024 – Senator Lorraine R. Inouye entered politics in 1984, serving on the Hawai‘i County Council before becoming the first Filipino-American woman elected Mayor of Hawai’i County in 1990. In 1998, she tackled an even greater challenge, winning a seat in the Hawai’i State Senate where she served with distinction for ten years until 2008. In 2014, she returned to the state senate, where she continues to make her mark in 2024.

2023 – Brandee Menino is Chief Executive Officer of HOPE Services Hawai‘i, which provides a continuum of services including homeless outreach, street medicine, rent and mortgage assistance, shelters, and more.  Inspired by the belief that serving others is a privilege, she has dedicated 25+ years to serving the community through the nonprofit sector.

2020 – Julie Tulang, a Zontian for over 35 years, has served on the Zonta District 9 nominating committee and  as District 9 governor, lt. governor, area director, and vice-area director–as well as our club’s president, service committee chair, and scholarship committee chair.  A tireless advocate for community causes, she serves and has served on numerous boards.

2018 – Senator Mazie Hirono was recognized for her work globally to advance the status of all people.  A resident of Honolulu, Sen. Hirono was sworn in on January 2, 2013 as a U.S. Senator for Hawai’i State.  She had previously served in the Hawai’i House of Representatives, as Hawai’i State Lieutenant Governor, and in the U.S. House of Representatives.

2018 – Irene Nagao, a Zontian for over 35 years, was honored for working to give people a second, or even third, chance to succeed in our community.  Irene served on Friends of the Big Island Drug Court, supported programs for reintegration of formerly incarcerated people, and formed STARS (Surviving to Thriving: Advocacy, Resources and Support), a support group for families of homicide victims.

2016 – Jackie Pualani Johnson, long-time drama professor at the University of Hawai’i at Hilo, who began the summer Shakespeare in the Park program more than four decades ago, was our honoree. She has brought Hawaiian culture into the dramatic arts.

2014 – Frances Chang Sherrard, who successfully lobbied Hawai’i County to turn over to the arts what is now the East Hawai’i Cultural Center, was honored for her long service to the community. Besides being a community leader, she was an educator and, for 13 years, the principal for Chiefess Kapi’olani Elementary School.

2012 – Lily Inouye, a Hilo Zontian for 40 years, is responsible for inaugurating a number of local Zonta initiatives, including Hands Are Not For Hitting, which seeks to break the cycle of violence. Lily, too, has broken many barriers, including gender, age, and ethnic.

2010 – Helene Hale was recognized for her lifetime service as an elected official of Hawai’i County, a woman of many firsts. She also founded the United Nations Association Hawai’i Chapter.

2004 – Carol R. Ignacio, Executive Director of the Office of Social Ministry, who organized the Hawai’i Island Food Bank (now its own 501(c)(3) as the Food Basket); the Care a Van outreach service for people experiencing homelessness; Mobile care, the traveling dental care program (now part of Bay Clinic), and other services assisting those in need.

2004 – Dr. Rose Tseng, then Chancellor at University of Hawai’i at Hilo, for her role as a woman leader making a difference by creating opportunities for higher education for local students and for “growing” the college to be where it is today.

Download Nomination Form (PDF)

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