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Spotlighting the Women of Zonta Hilo

"As a new member of Zonta, I am so amazed by the strong, successful women in our club and the example of leadership exhibited. I have learned a lot from meeting these women and getting better acquainted. I know that if you had a chance to learn more about them, your life would be impacted as well. Thus the idea of creating a 'spotlight' feature each month of an outstanding member of our local club.

I hope their story will be an encouragement to you, a reflection of your life, or at least make you smile."
Tonya Ozone

June Spotlight

Janice Higashi

Janice Higashi, born to a family of nine children and raised in Paauilo, is a graduate of Honokaa High School and Hilo Commercial College.

She recently retired as a business owner: Vice President of Creative Arts Hawaii and President and General Manager of Instant Sign Centers of Hawaii.
Her success in business not only stemmed from her "can-do" attitude, but also from the culmination of her 25 years of secretarial experience during which she earned her Certified Professional Secretary (CPS) designation. Jan was a member of the Professional Secretaries International, Hilo Chapter and was its President for two terms, during which she formed the Kona and South Kohala chapters.

Her "give-back to the community" philosophy and passion to engage in meaningful projects have propelled her to assume leadership roles in numerous community organizations:
  • Hospice of Hilo - Director & Chair of Community Relations Committee
  • Japanese Chamber of Commerce - President (first women)
  • Hawaii Island Chamber of Commerce - Board Member
  • Japanese Community Association of Hawaii - Director & Chair of the Cultural Committee
  • Hawaii Public Television
  • Commission on the Status of Women
  • EH Coalition for the Homeless
  • Zonta Club of Hilo - 1st Vice President
  • Destination Hilo
  • Pacific Tsunami Museum
  • Hawaii Island United Way
  • East Hawaii Special Olympics
  • Ed Case’ East Hawaii Campaign Coordinator

For the past 12 years, Jan has served as the chairperson of UH Hilo's Performing Arts Center Advisory Committee. She is the brainchild for the annual Girls' Day Diva Festival.
In 2010 she received UH Hilo Distinguished Service Award.
She was also honored with the 1993 Hawaii Tribune Hearld's Women of the Year, 1995 Athena Award (Outstanding Businesswoman), YWCA Remarkable Persons in 2009.

These days, Jan is enjoying retirement with her husband, best friend and partner in life of 46 years, Roland. They have one daughter, Laurie, who lives in California.

When asked why she does so much in the community, Jan says she hasn't learned how to say "no".
"Passion is what I believe in and love is what drives me. We are so blessed to live in such a special community and compassion for others comes naturally. Being involved in many community  activities, I have met and worked with people from all walks of life which strengthens my belief in ‘humankind'…when we work together, anything is possible."

Jan is someone I think about whenever I am asked to volunteer or do more within our community. I look at all the things on her plate and her generous spirit and always find that I can fit one more thing in.

Mahalo Jan for your passion, dedication and generosity within our community.