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CREATED BY BH
Ellen Plum, Brenda Taube, Gail Zona
Ellen Plum was born and raised in the Atlantic City area, and graduated from Atlantic City Friends’ School and George Washington University. Therefore, she was very familiar with the Miss America Pageant and all that it stood for. In her freshman year of college, she entered the Miss Pleasantville Pageant with visions of walking the runway waving to the crowd with that crown on her head. She came in last. However, Ellen Plum became the first woman to serve as President of the Miss America Pageant. Ellen was also the first woman ever to be elected to the Pageant Board, and was the founder of the Parents Activities Committee.
After serving in many areas of the pageant, Ellen was named Chairman of the National Hostess Committee and held that position for ten years. During this time, she set policy for contestants, traveling companions and hostess committees at every level throughout the country. She was actively involved in decisions and policy that contributed to the growth and development of the Miss America Organization and she also served on the Judges Committee and was involved in many improvements to the judging system.
Ellen is a past president of the Charity League of Atlantic City, past president of the Children’s Seashore House Auxiliary, and served on the Board of Directors of the Betty Bacharach Rehabilitation Center.
An author and public speaker, Ellen’s magazine articles have been published in “Chicken Soup for the Soul”, “Guideposts”, and “Women’s World Magazine”. She was first runner up in the International Toastmasters Competition. She has spoken before hundreds of audiences and represented the Miss America Organization on many TV programs including the Phil Donahue Show. Professionally, she has worked as a teacher for the DuPont Company and as a puppeteer for the National Dairy Council, and was Vice President of the Plum Funeral Homes, Inc.
Ellen and her husband of 58 years, Neil, are in the process of moving back to the Atlantic City area, which they still consider home, and will be nearer to their 2 daughters and their families.
Ellen’s favorite quote came from a Miss Maryland who said, “In most countries class determines your education. In this country education determines your class.”
Margate City, NJ had, until the spring of 2011, only one lady overseeing this seaside community, “Lucy”, the famous six-story elephant overlooking the city’s beaches since 1881. That was until Brenda Taube was elected to serve as the first female member of Margate’s governing body in the City’s 144 year history. Margate City has a Commission style government and Brenda currently serves as Commissioner of Public Works, Parks and Public Buildings. Brenda quickly earned the respect of her colleagues and hopes to make many positive contributions benefitting the community she serves. It has been said, “a politician looks out for the next election and a statesman looks out for the next generation.” Brenda wants to be remembered as the latter.
Brenda has volunteered with many non-profit organizations including: the American Cancer Society, RNS Cancer and Heart Fund, Miss America Organization, Charity League, Chairperson of the Board of Deacons at Margate Community Church, Margate City Board of Ethics, Atlantic County Economic Advisory Commission, Atlantic County Tourism Advisory Board and the NJ Travel Industry Association’s Board.
Professionally, Brenda worked in the hotel business where she met her husband, John. She owned a “TCBY” franchise with stores in Margate and Atlantic City, served as Director of Marketing and Tourism Development for the South Jersey Cultural Alliance, Assistant Director of the NJ Small Business Development Center, (Atlantic, Cape May and Cumberland Counties) and Executive Director of the Cape May Film Festival.
Brenda enjoys spending time with her husband and their 8-year old daughter, Ellie. They enjoy boating, traveling and sharing their beautiful, seaside community with family, friends, and of, course-Lucy!
Brenda has two favorite quotations: “People have a good attitude not because they have the best of everything in life but because they make the best of everything in life.” (author unknown) “Faith is taking the first step, even when you don’t see the whole staircase.” Martin Luther King, Jr.
Gail Zona is the consummate volunteer and, by her diligence, she has already accomplished her favorite quotation noted below.
A Pleasantville High School graduate with a BS from Ursinus College, Gail is an exceptionally valued member of the Atlantic County Branch of the American Association of University Women. She has held the positions of Treasurer, Program Chair, Environmental Concerns Chair, Chair of the Mentoring Program, and Fundraising Chair. She currently chairs STAR – Sisters Together Against Racism – an outgrowth of AAUW’s 1996 Diversity Forum, and edits its monthly newsletter.
Gail has also served her hometown of Absecon as its first Recycling Coordinator; her County as Program Chair and Vice-Chair of the Atlantic County Advisory Commission on Women; and her church, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish, as CCD Teacher, Program Chair of the Adult Education Committee, Women’s Faith Group and Lector. Senior citizens have been enriched by Gail’s service at Ocean Point Health Care Center, Villa Raffaella Assisted Living Center, and Our Lady’s Residence Health Care Center. Gail has volunteered with the Miss America Pageant, Con-Way-Ville Girl Scouts, Absecon PTA and the Atlantic County Chapter of the National Alliance for Mental Illness.
Professionally she has been a high school biology teacher and an area school substitute teacher; has held administrative and office positions in County Government and in the Casinos; and has been the co-owner and office manager of Zona’s Radiator Service in Absecon.
Others have recognized Gail’s exceptional service. She was the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s Municipal Recycling Coordinator of the Year, and received the Environmental Response Network of Atlantic County’s Green Globe Award. Gail was named the Absecon Lion’s Club Citizen of the Year, Zonta Club’s “Woman Who Makes a Difference,” and was selected to receive the American Conference on Diversity, Atlantic County Chapter’s Humanitarian Award.
Gail’s hobbies include: theater, genealogy, language study, reading, opera, entertaining and yoga. Gail and her husband Henry enjoy travel and spending time with their 2 adult children and 3 grandchildren.
Gail’s favorite quote comes from her mother: “Leave a place better than you find it.”