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Ziegler elected chair for Commission on Status of Women


By: Giselle Thomas

Interim Dean Dhyana Ziegler was sworn in on Tuesday as chair of the Florida Commission on the Status of Women. After serving on the commission for three years, she became chair of the organization which champions the cause of women, girls and their families.

Ziegler, the only African American on the commission this year, said that she is humbled to be part of this honorable group.

“All our commissioners are powerhouses,” Ziegler said. “For me to have been elected chair and I'm the only African American to be chair in three years, that's very special, not because I am an African-American, but because of the confidence they have in my leadership to be able to lead this commission.”

The Florida Commission on the Status of Women is an organization dedicated to being a resource for women throughout the state. It was created in 1991 and consists of 22 appointed commissioners from across Florida. The Cabinet, Senate president and House speaker appoint its members.

Kim Mehr, a staff assistant to the Commission, said that the organization is full of women who inspire others.

“It’s a very diverse group of women,” Mehr said, “and we get together to celebrate, to educate and to collaborate with others organizations.”

Maruchi Azorin, a member at large, said the best way to help others is to be the representation of your values. “The way you can make a difference in people’s lives is by setting an example and turning around and lifting each other up and serving as a role model,” Azorin said.

The commission covers various issues dealing with legislative processes, leadership roles in the Legislature, financial literacy and the celebration of women, the commissioners said.

Ziegler decided to focus on student loan debt and other money issues.

“I want to continue the financial literacy initiative,” the tenured professor said. “I’m not only concerned with the young people, but I’m really concerned with college students and the amount of debt that they leave with and the consequences from taking out loans.”

Commissioners routinely partner with the community, Ziegler said. They are in charge of hosting the annual Florida Women’s Hall of Fame and is currently working on a partnership with the Chamber of Commerce and its Florida Forum.

Collaboration helps the commission provide over 200 resources regarding many interests to women.

“I do this stuff so that others will know it’s possible to do,” said Ziegler, the Garth Reeves Eminent Scholar in Journalism. “That’s what my life is about right now, just service. I’ve been involved with service for so many years.”