Georgia women secure VP roles on 3 Kiwanis governing boards

Vicki Hermansen | Aug 03, 2021

Georgia Women

Georgia has the distinction of being home to three vice presidents in 2021. The three women are serving in vice presidential roles within Kiwanis International, a global volunteer service organization that works to help children and instill the values of servant leadership.  

All in the Kiwanis family of clubs, this year’s vice presidents include Katrina J. Baranko, who will serve a one-year term as vice president of Kiwanis International during the organization’s administrative year beginning Oct. 1; Leah Reiser, a student at Georgia Southern University, who will serve as vice president of Circle K International and Melanie Kim, a student at Lambert High School, who will serve as vice president of Key Club International. Reiser’s term began in June and Kim’s began in July; both will serve one year.  

The Georgia District of Kiwanis is home to 150 Kiwanis clubs, 177 Key Clubs for high school students and 14 CKI clubs for college students.  

Baranko, from Albany, Georgia, has served as a Kiwanis International trustee for the past three years. She is only the third woman to be elected vice president and will begin her one-year term in October. She’ll be president of the global volunteer organization in 2023-24. She is a member of the Kiwanis Club of Albany and has been active in Kiwanis for 27 years.

"I am so proud of the Georgia District's strong youth leadership programs, and I am honored to be serving with these two outstanding student leaders,” said Baranko. “Our future is definitely in good hands."  

Reiser, from Warner Robbins, is an elementary education major at Georgia Southern University, where she has been active in Circle K International for five years. She was elected vice president in June during the CKI Education and Leadership Conference held in Salt Lake City, Utah, and online.  

“This definitely is an honor,” said Reiser, who got involved with Kiwanis when she joined Key Club as a freshman in high school. She attributes Key Club and Circle K International with developing her into the leader that she has become, noting that when she began, she had difficulty talking in front of people.  

“It’s a very big deal,” Reiser said of the Georgia District being represented by three female vice presidents. “I’ve never been here when we had a female vice president.”   

The Key Club vice president, Melanie Kim, is a senior at Lambert High School, in Suwanee. She will graduate in 2022.

“Key Club is a forever-growing organization that has continuously offered student leaders opportunities like no other. After joining this organization three years ago, I am still surprised by the immense power our members have to change the world,” said Kim. “For this new year, I will do my best as Key Club International vice president to serve and represent our beloved organization."   

This is the first time in Kiwanis history that all three vice presidential offices have been held by women from Georgia.  

“It’s certainly a sign of the strength of the Kiwanis family of clubs and programs in Georgia to have three vice presidents from that district,” said Stan Soderstrom, executive director of Kiwanis International. “We’re proud of all our Kiwanis family members, from the adult members of clubs to those in our youth programs. This is a wonderful reflection on the importance of service leadership at all age levels.”  

Baranko has also served on the boards of directors of the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce, Liberty House, March of Dimes and the Albany Technical College Foundation. She has served as past chair of Lee County Heart Association and past president of Lee County Association of Educators and Women in Network. She is past district director of Georgia Association of Educators. She was a finalist for Small Business of the Year and was named Junior Women's Club Family of the Year, Georgia Business Teacher of the Year and Future Business Leaders of America Advisor of the Year. She is the owner of Merle Norman Cosmetics and Gifts in Albany, Georgia. She holds a bachelor's degree in education from the University of Georgia and a master's degree in education from Georgia State University.

Reiser was a member of Walnut Grove High School Key Club for four years and served as club secretary for one year. She’s a Key Club advisor for the Georgia District. Her hobbies include writing, playing the piano, baking, reading and volunteering. Her favorite CKI service project is working with therapy dogs.  

She hopes to be a kindergarten or second grade teacher when she finishes college.  

Kim has been involved with Kiwanis International for five years, joining Builders Club in the seventh grade. She joined Key Club when she entered high school and served as chair of the Georgia District’s Contests and Policies Committee. She has also served as district lieutenant governor and has been honored as a district outstanding committee chair. She has worked with Key Clubs in the Jamaica, Utah-Idaho and Kansas districts and served on a Global Relations Committee to expand the reach of Key Club. Outside of Key Club she is involved in STEM, working in synthetic biology to engineer organisms with different preferred traits and characteristics. Her hobbies include baking, crocheting and painting. 


Vision Partners

Be a Partner