Joan Benno first female Exalted Ruler of Elks Lodge

YUMA, Ariz.- March is women’s history month and The Elks Lodge Yuma chapter is celebrating by breaking leadership barriers.

Joan Benno will hold the ultimate title of Exalted Ruler and Kimi Fritz will hold the title of Secretary at the organization. The Elks have been in Yuma County for more than a century and up until 17 years ago women were not allowed to join the club without their husband’s sponsorship.

Benno says she had to work her way up in the ranks, “You start off usually as other officers, and you work your way up to being the Exalted Ruler, and I held six different offices.”

Steve Whitney, a former Exalted Ruler and active member, says how he feels about the change, “I think its great! I think it’s way past time, it is just something that happens, it’s not something that we plan, she came through the chairs and she paid her dues and she has every right to be Exalted Ruler of this lodge.”

Kimi Fritz was also given the opportunity to have a leadership position, “It feels great! But, you have to remember there are lots of committies that are responsible for the success that we have, and they work very, very hard. So, no matter who is in this chair they will work just as hard for Joan or I.”

Both Benno and Fritz say they couldn’t do it without the support of their members and community that is behind them.

“I want it to be out there that we are a benevolent and protective order and we are out there to help the community and to be in limelight and out in the community and showing that,” said Benno.

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