The Ventura County Professional Women’s Network (VCPWN), founded in 1982, was formed in answer to a need. It was a business world where women were not allowed to join Rotary Clubs, and women in Chambers of Commerce set the tables and served men at chamber functions. Married women still needed a husband’s signature in order to get any loan. Yet women entrepreneurs owned 25% of all U.S. firms. There was a great need for women in business to support each other, personally and professionally.
For women in Ventura County, there was the Women’s Network - in Los Angeles. To see if there was enough interest in Ventura County, over 100 flyers were circulated inviting interested women to attend a dinner at a restaurant in Oxnard. In an early example of viral growth, copies of copies of these flyers turned up all over the county, and over 100 women attended the dinner!
A steering committee of women - VCPWN’s “founding mothers” - developed the network’s purpose statement, seeking to create an organization that:
There was such hunger for this type of an organization that women joined even though there were no pretty brochures, forms, or clear, crisp guidelines, and certainly no website at the time. VCPWN attracted women growing or redefining their careers or having just launched them, and in its second year, membership grew to over 300.
Since then, with the formation of a board of directors elected each year by the membership, each with defined roles and responsibilities, the network has flourished. New ideas, new programs, a wide variety of speakers, and some regular activities have become part of our ongoing commitment “To promote the personal and professional growth of Ventura County women through education, mutual support and sharing of resources.”
The current monthly dinner meeting format has evolved, but maintains the basic structure of networking before dinner and a keynote speaker afterward.
VCPWN is completely independent and self-supporting. Our silent auctions, held in spring and fall, remain our biggest fund raisers, along with the membership dues and renewals. In recent years, the network has hosted a small business table-top expo giving members, and others, an opportunity to feature their businesses in a fun, high-energy evening.
Members are welcome - and encouraged - to join any committee. Participation makes for a richer experience, gives members more opportunity for exposure, and contributes to the wealth of ideas that keep the Ventura County Professional Women’s Network alive and new and meaningful.
VCPWN is a unique organization whose goals and philosophy remain as the original founders established it – promoting growth, networking and support. Member success stories give others the courage to create their own successes or to continue their successful advancement up the corporate or small business ladder with skill and panache.