The Zonta Club of the Joliet Area has named member Pam Hunte as the club’s 2019 Woman of the Year. Hunte graciously accepted her award at the April meeting.

Elected by fellow Zonta Club members, Hunte joins a treasured group of women who have achieved this prestigious honor.  Zonta recognizes one of their members on an annual basis for making a significant contribution that has enhanced the visibility and operation of the club. Hunte was selected by the Joliet Zonta membership for always being a positive force in advancing the status of women worldwide and for taking the club’s international relations work to a new level.  Hunte is an inspiration to her fellow Zontions and consistently demonstrates a never-ending commitment to the Zonta Club mission, particularly when it comes to international relations.  Hunte is a retired Anthropologist/International Consultant who has worked with international teams to carry out policy-relevant research in education, migration, and child labor.  She uses her vast knowledge and experience to lead international advocacy projects and campaigns for the Zonta Club of the Joliet Area.  She recently served as the Key Note Speaker at the 2019 Zonta Area 5 Spring Workshop, presenting valuable insight into the lives of women and girls in Afghanistan.

Hunte grew up in Joliet, and attended Farragut Elementary School and Hufford Junior High School. She graduated from Joliet Central High School in 1965, and then went to the University of Iowa in Iowa City where she majored in Anthropology and Special Education. Following graduation, Hunte entered the Peace Corps and volunteered in Afghanistan for two years.  She taught English at a boys’ boarding school in the northern city of Mazar Sharif.  After learning the local language of Dari (Afghan Persian), she worked as a translator for a village health study.

The positive experience in Afghanistan inspired Hunte to pursue international development, and she continued to work with the United Nations and NGOs (non-government organizations) in Afghanistan during the many years of conflict and also in Pakistan in Afghan refugee camps.

Hunte went on to get her PhD in Cultural Anthropology from the University of Wisconsin Madison, and taught Anthropology at the University of Connecticut/Storrs.  Although she enjoyed academia, her heart was still in international development and fieldwork. Hunte began working with the United Nations and the World Bank, not only Afghanistan, but in other countries in Asia, primarily with education and health projects. She conducted poverty assessments in Tajikistan and Mongolia, and worked with income generating projects in India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, and Nepal.

When Hunte retired, she returned to her home in Joliet.  She now enjoys gardening, reading, volunteering, family history, and travelling.  Hunte has been a Joliet Zonta member since January 2008, sponsored by treasured friend Emmie Ostrom.  As an active Zonta member, Hunte serves as the International Relations/UN Chair and member of the Spring Fundraising Committee.

The Zonta Club of Joliet Woman of the Year Award is greatly appreciate by Hunte.  Members who receive the award are unaware that they have been selected until the time the award is given.  Upon receiving the award Hunte said, “I am so proud of my fellow members of the Joliet Zonta Club, who help women and girls not only in Joliet but throughout the world. Thanks to all of you for specifically supporting the Jebreel Women’s Learning Center of AIL (Afghan Institute of Learning) in Herat, Afghanistan. I am honored to be the Woman of the Year!”

Past Woman of the Year honorees include: 1986 Helen Harshbarger, 1987 Dorothy Cryder, 1988 Carmela Castagna, 1989 Dianna Gliwa, 1990 Wanda Onstad, 1991 Charlotte Baker, 1992 Shan-de-Mohra Gavankar, 1993 Jane DeWitt, 1994 Judith Freund Vavrus, 1995 Pam Davis Gorcowski, 1996 Helen Sarsfield, 1997 Emita Ostrem, 1998 Ta Wilson, 1999 Jan Larsen, 2000 Lora McGuire, 2001 Bonnie McElroy, 2002 Dianne Harmon, 2003 Karen Lega, 2004 Kathy Giegerich, 2005 Beth Ann May, 2006 Mary Baudino, 2007 Pat Perrier, 2008 Dinah Archambeault, 2009 Yolanda Reyes, 2010 Bonnie Horne, 2011 Rita Weiss, 2012 Beth Colvin, 2013 Mary Lancaster, 2014 Peggy Field, 2015 Cathy Lowery, 2016 Helen Hester Ross, 2017 Kristine Schlismann, and 2018 Catherine Yanikoski Adamowski.

Zonta International is a worldwide organization that has empowered women and girls through service and advocacy for 100 years.  Zonta International promotes and strives to protect the human rights of all women and girls and reduce the incidences of violence against them. Since 1923, Zonta has provided more than US $40.9 million to empower women and expand their access to education, health care, economic opportunities and safe living conditions. Zonta’s nearly 1,200 clubs support local and regional initiatives in 63 countries worldwide.