Editor's Note: This year is the 100-year anniversary of Zonta International, a nonprofit organization that fights for women's equality while providing a plethora of services to communities in dozens of countries. To commemorate this milestone, the Jefferson City Chapter of Zonta and the News Tribune partnered to highlight seven local women each day this week who have been inspired by women at all levels, from well-known international figures to Capital City mentors. These local women have gone on to inspire community members and make a difference in Jefferson City or beyond.
If you've visited a gallery exhibit at Capital Arts, swung by a gathering for the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority or attended a fundraiser for the United Way of Central Missouri, Vicki Myers most likely had a hand in executing the event, whether organizing it or simply volunteering her time.
Myers' passion for helping others runs deep, a characteristic people also witness in a national figure whom Myers admires: former U.S. first lady Michelle Obama.
Myers had a 40-year stint with the Missouri Department of Corrections, serving in various roles, including on the Missouri Board of Probation and Parole for about 12 years and as Director of Human Services for the department for 10 years before retiring.
Obama was first lady of the United States from 2009-17, when her husband, Barack Obama, served as the 44th president.
The Obamas were the first black president and first lady of the United States, and Myers said the couple's journey has inspired black individuals throughout the country, including herself.
Michelle Obama published her memoir, "Becoming," in 2018, and Myers said it gave her a look at the former first lady's poise and struggles.
"When I say the perfect wife, the perfect mother, the perfect partner, she was just a strong woman. I admire that about her and being a black woman," Myers said. "What was important to me about her was her as a woman and how she carried herself and represented our country well and overcome the negative, horrible stuff they would say about her."
Obama and Myers have devoted countless hours toward volunteering and spearheading projects.
Obama pushed for healthier communities, rallied for service members and their families, and encouraged girls to attend school. Myers has been involved with Capital Arts, the United Way of Central Missouri, Grace Episcopal Church, Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, Zonta Jefferson City and more.
Myers' drive to help others also shined in her career with the Department of Corrections. She attributed her passion to her grandmother and mother, who both worked in careers that helped others.
"I loved not only working with offenders and trying to help but also loved working with my staff and helping them, and being on the parole board was a big deal, trying to decide who goes to prison and who goes back," she said.
While discussing Obama's and her passions to assist others, Myers smiled bashfully, looking down at her clasped hands in her lap.
"She was in a position to contribute to the community. My involvement is because I like doing stuff and the opportunity to give back in one way or the other," Myers said.
The Jefferson City chapter of Zonta will host its annual 5K Superhero Stride at 8:30 a.m. Oct. 26 at Memorial Park, 111 Memorial Drive. Check-in will begin at 7:30 a.m.
Pre-registration costs $25, while registration the day of the event is $30. Members of the Jefferson City Roadrunners can register for $20, and a team of five participants can register for $100.
Participants can register at zontajcmo.org or by downloading a form to mail to the local Zonta chapter at 1030 Westwood Drive.
Zonta members encouraged participants to register by Oct. 7 to receive a shirt for the 5K Superhero Stride.
The proceeds will go to the Zonta International Foundation so the foundation can continue its global equality efforts, such as reducing the risk of HIV/AIDS through health education and increasing educational opportunities and vocational skills training for women.