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Rotorua woman elected to Lions Clubs International board

Rotorua woman elected to Lions Clubs International board

She has had a distinguished career in Lions – and now Rotorua Sulphur City Lion Sheryl Jensen has landed the top job of International Director for Constitutional Area 7. Sheryl was voted onto the Board at the Lions international convention in Korea in June, after receiving the endorsement of New Zealand Lions at Convention in New Plymouth in April. She headed to Chicago to Lions International headquarters in August for training for her new role in the busy two years ahead.

Area 7 comprises New Zealand, the islands of the South Pacific, Australia, Papua New Guinea and Indonesia.

“I’m looking forward to representing them on an international level – and actively liaising between local Lions and the international association,” said Sheryl. “I am their personal link between their club or district and the international board. So although I am representing Area 7 on the board – we work for all Lions.”

Sheryl will work on the Leadership Committee and is also on a women’s task force – which will look at getting more women into Lions.

Sheryl joined Lions in 1994 – her husband Kevin was already a member.

“I joined for two reasons: to meet new people and to be involved with an organisation that provided people with the opportunities for personal growth. Of course giving back to the community and helping others less fortunate was part of it – but I was already doing a lot of that in my local community.”

Born in Rotorua, Sheryl spent her childhood on a farm with her parents and five siblings. She attended New Plymouth Girls High School and later Teachers College in Hamilton. During her final year at Teachers College she met and married Kevin. The couple were together at weekends and during the week Sheryl was teaching while Kevin share milked on her parent’s farm. They purchased their own farm in 1975.

Sheryl continued her teaching career in Rotorua – returning part time when her two children started school. She left the classroom in 1995 and, never one to sit still for long, worked on the family’s now larger farm as well as helping a friend in her fashion shop. Ten years ago she applied for a position with Arthritis New Zealand and now works as an educator for that organisation. She is a Master Trainer of Living a Healthy Life, through Stanford University (USA) and developed training modules for self-management. She is also a Justice of the Peace, a qualified Toastmaster and a marriage/funeral celebrant.

Her role as the educator for the Lakes District Health Board area, and Western and Eastern Bay of Plenty, requires her to organise and present at educational seminars on arthritis conditions, self-management skills and tools. She also holds clinics for clients with arthritis and/or pain, workplace education, health professional training and community presentations.

Sheryl and Kevin, who have been married 39 years this August, have two children – Kirsty (36) who is the Australia and New Zealand Manager for a cruise company, and Greg (34) a sales rep in Tauranga. They have two grandchildren (the children of Greg and his wife Jennifer), Cole (5) and Zoe (1).

When she isn’t busy being a Lion and working, one of Sheryl’s passions is her ukulele. She plays in a band – quite a big one; they have five ukuleles, three guitars, a banjo, keyboard and harmonica. They play for fun, but also perform at various venues in the community – including the Lions Christmas party and RSA.

Sheryl and Kevin enjoy spending time with their family, fishing, travelling and reading. They also cycle – having completed the 100k flyer bike ride from Rotorua to Taupo. Sheryl loves walking and has completed a number of half marathons over the years.

In 2000 Sheryl and Kevin sold the farm and moved to Lake Rotoiti – and then to Rotorua in 2006.

And to the future - Sheryl is looking forward to her new role and sees it as an opportunity to ‘get Lions out there – in the public eye.’

“I want to get the message out there about what a great organisation we are. And we need to keep it vibrant, so we can attract new members. We have to keep our focus, and stay relevant.

“I am very keen to push women and families to be part of Lions. Everyone is so busy these days - we all go flat stick, like the white rabbit down the rabbit hole, therefore we have got to adapt to these busy, changing times – in order to attract different people. We have to keep moving with society.

“I say that people can still be Lions, even if they have busy work lives, even if they work weekends. If you want to be a Lion, you can be – you can fit Lions in around your working life.

“When I joined Lions I did not envisage the leadership climb that has been offered and happened to me. The wonderful opportunities for personal leadership growth, giving service to those in need and the wonderful people we now know all around the world – makes being a member of Lions something that cannot be surpassed.

“We just need to stay vibrant, adaptable – and out there!

“I realise the (new) position requires commitment, dedication, and a lot of time and energy. I am very proud to be a Lion and share the joy of service and also the opportunity, as an International Director, to be involved in moving our association forward so that we can continue to stand proud and strong in what we do now and into the future.

“The role will require a lot of time, a lot of travel and I need to thank Kevin and my family, my sister and brothers, my Lions Club, our friends and my work for their support.”


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