Brandi Carlile (Erika Goldring, Getty Images For Americana Music)


Xiomara Castro (Twitter)


Oriini Kaipara (Instagram)


Keechant Sewell (Matthew McDermott)

Firsts for Women: December 2021

Zonta International celebrates “firsts for women” in all different sectors in countries and communities around the world.

Looking back on last month, we acknowledge the following women:

  • Adrienne Adams – first Black woman to lead the New York City Council.
  • Susan Arnold – first woman to be named chair of the Walt Disney Company’s board.
  • Neeli Bendapudi – first woman and first person of color named president of Penn State.
  • Gaby Bornheim – first woman president of the German Shipowners’ Association (VDR).
  • Sharon Bowen – first Black woman to be named chair of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE).
  • Cardi B – first woman rap artist to earn three diamond-certified singles.
  • Brandi Carlile – first woman songwriter to earn two Grammy nominations for song of the year in the same year.
  • Xiomara Castro – first woman elected president in Honduras.
  • Debbie Crosbie – first woman to be named CEO of Nationwide Building Society, the United Kingdom’s second-largest mortgage lender.
  • Deqa Dhalac – first Somali American mayor in the United States and first Black mayor of South Portland, Maine.
  • Eileen Gu – first woman to land a right side double cork 1440 in any free-skiing competition.
  • Kristen Hayden – first Black woman to win a U.S. national senior title in diving and the first Black U.S. diver to earn a bid to the FINA World Championships.
  • Susan Hutson – first Black woman to be elected sheriff in the state of Louisiana.
  • Dawn Ison – first Black woman U.S. Attorney in Detroit.
  • Brittney Johnson – first Black woman to play Glinda the Good Witch in the Broadway musical, Wicked.
  • Sigrid Kaag – first woman named finance minister of the Netherlands.
  • Oriini Kaipara – first person with moko kauae—a traditional chin tattoo worn by Māori women to present the primetime news on television in New Zealand.
  • Jennifer King – first Black woman to be a position coach in the National Football League (NFL).
  • Lucy Koh – first Korean American woman to serve as a U.S. federal appeals court judge.
  • Amélie Mauresmo – first woman to become director of the Roland-Garros tennis tournament.
  • Beth Mowins – first woman to call a National Basketball Association (NBA) regular-season game on ESPN.
  • Col. “N” – first woman to be named as a military attaché to the president of Israel.
  • Falguni Nayar – first woman in India to become a self-made billionaire after the stock market debut of her cosmetics e-commerce site, Nykaa.
  • Kiesha Nix – first Black woman to become vice president in the Los Angeles Lakers organization.
  • Rachael Rollins – first Black woman to be named U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts.
  • Jessica Rosenworcel – first woman to permanently chair the Federal Communications Commission, which regulates communications by radio, television, wire, satellite and cable across the United States.
  • Laura Schmidlein – first woman to officiate a game for the ECHL, a mid-level professional ice hockey league in the United States and Canada.
  • Amy Schneider – first woman to achieve 21 consecutive wins on Jeopardy!
  • Keechant Sewell – first woman to be appointed police commissioner of the New York City Police Department (NYPD).
  • Shenseea – first woman to win the Music of Black Origin (MOBO) Award for Best Reggae Act.
  • Andrea Talentino – first woman appointed president of Augustana College.
  • Ecaterina Teodoroiu – first named woman to appear on Romanian banknote. The Romanian leu has featured unnamed female peasants, but never a real historical figure. The lieutenant, who fought and died in World War I, was Romania’s first female army officer.
  • Tessa Voss – first woman to be administrator of the Betty Ford Center, a private, nonprofit drug and alcohol treatment center.
  • Dana White – first Black woman to franchise a national hair salon. She is the CEO and founder of Paralee Boyd Salon.

Moments we missed in November:

  • Samantha Tan – first Asian woman to win a major endurance racing championship.

As an organization that has fought for gender equality for more than 100 years, Zonta International believes it is important to celebrate and honor women who are making history. Each month, we will recognize women who have broken the glass ceiling and set an example for future generations to come.

Do you know of a first for women moment that should be recognized? Share with us at pr@zonta.org