Preet Chandi (Ministry of Defence)


Cynthia Chavez Lamar (Walter Lamar/The Smithsonian)


Tess Ledeux (A. Martin/The Team)


Natalie Simon (Concacaf)

Firsts for Women: January 2022

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:

  • Zarinah Anwar – first woman appointed as board chairman of the University of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
  • Rachel Balkovec – first woman to manage a minor league team affiliated with Major League Baseball (MLB).
  • Genevieve Beacom – first woman to pitch in the Australian Baseball League (ABL).
  • Tatiana Calderón – first woman to race under the AJ Foyt Racing banner in auto racing.
  • Émilie Castonguay – first woman assistant general manager for the Vancouver Canucks and the second woman in the National Hockey League (NHL) to hold the title.
  • Shelly Cayette-Weston – first Black woman to serve as a team’s executive vice president and chief operating officer in the National Basketball Association (NBA).
  • Harpreet "Preet" Chandi – first woman of color to complete a solo expedition in Antarctica.
  • Alondra Chatman – first woman to sign a multi-media contract in the sport of natural bodybuilding.
  • Kristin Crowley – first woman to lead the Los Angeles Fire Department as fire chief.
  • Missy Elliott – first woman rapper to earn six consecutive Recording Industry Association of America platinum-certified albums.
  • Alexia Fabre – first woman director of the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, one of the most prestigious art schools in the world.
  • Cmdr. Billie J. Farrell – first woman to be commanding officer of the USS Constitution, also known as Old Ironsides, the world’s oldest commissioned warship still afloat.
  • Olivia Giaccio – first woman to land a moguls 1080 (also known as a “cork 10”). Mogul skiing consists of one timed run of free skiing where athletes receive points for time, air and quality of turns.
  • Amy Gillingham – first woman football commentator of the United Arab Emirates.
  • Rear Admiral Antonette Sandra-Lee Wemyss Gorman – first woman chief of defence staff in the Jamaica Defence Force.
  • Christel Heydemann – first woman CEO of Orange SA, France’s biggest phone carrier.
  • Marilyn Jackson – first woman to permanently hold the position of president and CEO of the Muhammad Ali Center.
  • Kylie Jenner – first woman to reach 300 million followers on Instagram.
  • Keeva Joell-Benjamin – first woman to serve as commissioner of corrections in Bermuda.
  • Meera Joshi and Maria Torres-Springer– first two people of Asian descent to serve as a deputy mayor of New York City. Joshi, who is South Asian American, serves as deputy mayor for operations; Torres-Springer, who is Filipina American, serves as deputy mayor for economic and workforce development.
  • Jung Ho-yeon – first East Asian cover model of Vogue.
  • Cynthia Chavez Lamar – first Native woman to lead a Smithsonian museum. She will be the director of the National Museum of the American Indian, which has one of the largest collections of Native and Indigenous items in the world.
  • Tess Ledeux – first woman to claim gold in both the big air and slopestyle events in X Games history.
  • Laurie Leshin – first woman director of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and first woman vice president of the California Institute of Technology.
  • Marla Luckert – first woman chief justice to present the Kansas State of the Judiciary in the Kansas Statehouse.
  • Ayesha Malik – first woman to serve as judge on the Pakistan Supreme Court.
  • Ivory Mathews – first woman executive director of Home Forward, the housing authority of Portland, Oregon.
  • Alka Mittal – first woman to be chairman and managing director of the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) in India.
  • Salima Mukansanga – first woman to officiate a match in the Confederation of African Football (CAF) Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON), the main international men’s association football (soccer) competition in Africa.
  • Marisol Nugent – first woman to be listed on an American Athletic Conference varsity wrestling roster. She is a redshirt first year at the University of North Carolina.
  • Deanna Oppenheimer – first woman to be named chair of InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), a multinational hospitality company that owns Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza, Regent and more.
  • Nicole Otto – first woman appointed global brand president of The North Face.
  • Megan Ross – first woman president of Lincoln Park Zoo, Chicago, Illinois.
  • Zara Rutherford – first woman to circumnavigate the world in a microlight aircraft. At 19 years old, she is also the youngest woman to fly around the world solo.
  • Amy Schneider – first woman to win more than US$1 million on Jeopardy!
  • Natalie Simon – first Black woman to hold a FIFA badge, the highest ranking to which a referee can aspire. FIFA is the highest governing body of association football.
  • Rosalyn Tang – first Asian American and the youngest woman to serve on the Maryland Court of Special Appeals.
  • Aisha Visram – first woman to serve behind an NHL bench.
  • Rebecca Welch – first woman to referee a Men’s FA Cup third round match.

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