The Professional Women’s Connection emphasized its regional presence in 2016, catering to members and guests in Lake, Cuyahoga, and Lorain counties. The group hosted eight business workshops and 34 monthly networking gatherings in Willoughby, Westlake, and Elyria. “We remain driven by the local membership drawn from not only business owners but also revenue producers for local and national companies,” PWC President Janice Litterst says. “Our mission is to help the member businesses grow, which helps our communities grow. We do not limit our membership by industries, and we have begun to attract local economic development professionals representing local communities. Relationships are built one person at a time, and they are lasting relationships both personally and professionally. That is the energy of Professional Women’s Connection.” With categories protected, members collaborated rather than competed with another. Members were offered ways to help them grow in recognition within their groups. Starting with a Facebook group page, members could communicate with each other as well as post business announcements. A monthly newsletter for each location included coverage on monthly presentations by members as well as member highlights. The quarterly business workshops featured local business authorities who presented topics chosen by PWC members. These were educational in nature and focused on topics such as social media, business etiquette, and leadership for women. The group began its Partnering Program with a pilot initiative in Lorain County. Inexperienced networkers who were students and/or employed but unable to access a networking group because of a lack of resources (time or money) were accepted into the program to work with a mentoring member of PWC. In addition to becoming active parts of a PWC group, these individuals have the opportunity to be offered one-year no-cost memberships in PWC. Members of the Lorain County group volunteered as mentors to five women in 2016, with the potential to offer the program to at least 25 more women in the future. Plans to replicate the program in Cuyahoga and Lake Counties are being considered. When two of PWC’s members last year faced personal crises within a few months of each other, members came forth in unprecedented ways. One member instantly became the parent to her colleague’s two grandchildren upon the death of their mother, the member’s young widowed daughter. The second member received a diagnosis that not only showed her strength in sharing with the group but also found members once again providing meals as well as accompaniment to medical appointments and more. “The energetic strength of PWC is awe-inspiring,” Litterst says. “PWC members are special.”
Runners-up: National Association of Women Business Owners; WIN Cleveland; Women in Sports and Events; YWCA Greater Cleveland Women’s Leadership Institute.
2016 — Professional Women’s Connection
2015 — National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO)
2014 — Women’s Leadership Council, YWCA Greater Cleveland
2013 — Red Key Network
2012 — Women’s Leadership Council, United Way of Greater Cleveland
2011 — Ladies Who Launch Cleveland
2010 — Ladies Who Launch Cleveland
2010 — Knowledgeable Network of Women
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