July 29 would have been the 90th birthday of INBA’s first female member of the Board of Directors.
Madelyn R. Merwin was doing news at WJOL in Joliet when she was elected to the INBA Board in 1961. She served one year, and then moved to Louisville, Kentucky, where she worked for The National Horseman magazine, and then in the WHAS radio and TV newsrooms. There she was again the first woman. And again, when she returned to Illinois, she was the first woman named an Associate Editor at the Star Newspapers in Chicago Heights. She retired in 1990, but continued to write a travel column and travel features. She died in 2011 at age 87.
The next woman on the INBA Board was Zona Davis, who was elected to the relatively new position of “Recorder” in 1970. Zona was on the air at WCRA in Effingham, and was the mother of INBA Lifetime Member Paul Davis. She served one year.
In 1973, Ann Anderson of WGIL in Galesburg was elected to the Board, which expanded from four to nine members (not including officers). Kathy McFarland of WSIU in Carbondale joined Ann in 1974, and Marge Kumaki (WTAX) and Barbara Schleck (WILL) came on in 1975. Anderson became INBA’s first female president in 1978. By then she was at WCIA-TV in Champaign. Now Ann Anderson Mustard, she lives in New Delhi, but has been one of INBA’s strongest supporters in recent years, making generous donations and attending many conventions.
Several women have served as President since then – including 4 during the past 10 years: Michelle Eccles, Melissa Hahn, Jennifer Fuller and now Sue Stephens. The gender balance of the board shifted for the first time in 2008, with 4 female officers and 5 board members for a total of 9. The current board has 8 females and 7 males.