Lower Columbia CAP Executive Director Ilona Kerby recently was installed as president of Altrusa International Inc. at the group’s 53rd International Convention in Rotorua, New Zealand. Kerby took vacation time to visit New Zealand to attend the festivities.
As president, Kerby will oversee the 10,000-member community service organization, which has 350 clubs in 19 countries.
Kerby has been a member of Altrusa International since 1987, serving as president of her local club, as well as Governor of District 12 in 2003-2005, and then as International Vice President in 2009-11.
As president, she plans to broaden Altrusa’s efforts especially in Africa and the developing nations with “hands-on projects,” and a special focus on literacy and HIV education.
“Giving back to my community has been important to me ever since I began volunteering in junior high school,” Kerby said in her inaugural address as president.
While a high school student, Kerby volunteered at St. John Hospital and Progress Center. She has remained an active volunteer. She organized and chaired the Celebration of Literacy Week for 10 years and received the Community Leadership Award from the Altrusa International Foundation for her work. She also has received the Governor’s Award and President’s Lifetime Award from the foundation for her volunteerism.
“I believe it is our responsibility to leave our community, and the world, a better place because we lived, and how we lived,” Kerby is quoted in a press release from CAP.
Altrusa International of Longview Kelso President Cindy Donaldson notes that “Altrusa is very proud of our new International President. We want to congratulate Ilona on this marvelous achievement. Her dedication to her work at Lower Columbia CAP, to our local Altrusa club, and to Altrusa International worldwide is a wonderful example to us all.”
Kerby became Executive Director of Lower Columbia Community Action Program (CAP) in 2005, with the goal of reducing CAP’s dependence on federal and state government funding. She has overseen the development of several “social enterprises”— businesses that serve a dual purpose of providing job training skills and generating revenues to support the non-profit’s programs.
These social enterprises include CAPtured Treasures, its boutique clothing store and job skills training center located at 1262 Commerce Ave.; the Home Energy Audit Team (HEAT), which provides home energy assessments to help families reduce their energy bills; and most recently, the Grounds for Opportunity (GFO) café and training kitchen at 413 S. Pacific Ave., Kelso, which also is CAP’s central kitchen where Meals on Wheels and Senior Community Lunches are prepared daily.
Kerby has chaired the Housing First Coalition, which guides the collaborative efforts to end homelessness in Cowlitz County. She is the chaiwoman of Pathways 2020.
“We are immensely proud of Ilona’s achievement,” Mary Gillespie, president of the CAP board of directors is quoted in the press release.
“Ilona has worked very hard for many years as a member of Altrusa, and being elected president of this international organization is a huge accomplishment.”
Gillespie added that Kerby’s activities in Altrusa “tie in perfectly with her role at CAP since both organizations strive to make a positive difference in our communities.”
Altrusa was the first service organization for professional women. Founded as a service organization in 1917, at a time when Rotarians and other service clubs did not admit women members, the organization has been dedicated to leadership development and community service for almost 100 years.