Small Business Stories - The History of NAWBO
Women Business and Political leaders Cynthia McClain-Hill, Sharon Hadary, Barbara Kasoff, and Patty DeDominic look back on 30 years of NAWBO and the impact it’s made for women in business.
Cynthia McClain: As we as an organization talk about today we really believe that today is it’s all about us and when we wondered about what we could do over lunch they kind of drive that point home, we thought what better time than now to spend a few moments really thinking about NAWBO. NAWBO in its full-blown national nationwide presence, the entity that we all belong too. You know we’re all engaged that the chapter level at least most of us and in speaking with chapter leadership I know how fiercely proud we are of, of what we do in our communities at home.
And in fact when we think of NAWBO, we very often think about the event that happened at our chapter. We think about to be you know the program, the leadership, the spectacular women that we’ve met there. And yet this is the National Association of Women Business Owners. Not LA, not Boston, not San Diego, not Houston, Orlando, Nashville and we have with us a really, really terrific panel that I’ll introduce momentarily to kind of help us not only think about the national association but what we’ve achieved together at the collection of business women not just in our communities but across the nation and really how we’re impacting women around the world.
Our history which you will find on the national website begins. Twelve women business owners in Washington DC started meeting informally in December of 1974 to trade information about federal contracts, bank credit and other issues related to their businesses recognizing the value of the group they incorporated the national association of women business owners on July 7th 1975. Two years later they begin recruiting members from across the country and in 1978 the first chapters were formed.
Significant milestones in our time lining clue 1980. The national and chapter members attend the White House Conference on small businesses testified before congressional committees and participate in task forces on small business groups.
In 1982, NAWBO holds the first conference, national conference which takes place in Houston, Texas. The first national public affairs day attracts then Vice President George Bush and nine members of Congress who are presented with NAWBO 6.10.
In 1986, NAWBO national and chapter members participated and yet another White House Conference on small business. In 1988, HR 50-50 the women’s business opportunity act is passed and the law is signed in a White House reception with President Reagan in major milestone achievement at this organization.
In 1989, the National Foundation for Women Business Owners becomes active as a research organization again formed by NAWBO. They later change their name to the Center for Women Business Research in 2001. In 1992, women on firms employ more people than Fortune 500 companies combined. In 1993, past NAWBO Presidents are inducted into the Women’s Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls, New York.
In 2005, NAWBO celebrated its 30th anniversary with 8000 members and 78 chapters. In 2007, NAWBO leads women in business trade mission to the Netherlands in Belgium. The mission receives a great deal of press coverage and is rated as one of the most successful in the past five years by the US Department of Congress of Commerce.
In 2008, NAWBO submits testimony to the house and Senates Small Business Committee stating its criticism of the propose rule issued by the small business administration for women on business set aside program. NAWBO also celebrates this year the 20th anniversary of the passage of HR 50-50.
Ladies and gentlemen, I’m sorry are we just ladies today? Okay ladies and the men that we loved, this organization has been significant in the difference that it has made in promoting the success of women entrepreneurs across this country and throughout the world. That this is the organizations past, this organization’s future “Oh, my God”. I’d like to introduce our panelist. First joining us is Sharon Hadary, Center for Women’s Business Research. Dr. Sharon Hadary is Executive Director of the Center for Women’s Business Research. The center is now the premiere non-profit research institute dedicated exclusively to conducting research and women business owners and their enterprises were right. The seniors focus is in providing that data trip and knowledge to advance the economic social and political impact of women business owners.
We also are very please to have with us today Barbara Kasoff. Barbara Kasoff is President, CEO and co-founder of Women Impacting Public Policy, an organization that also finds its roots in the relationship and shared interest created by NAWBO with this in national, bipartisan public policy organization that advocates for and on behalf of women and minorities in business. Its goal is to strengthen their stairs of influence in the legislative process, create economic opportunities and build bridges and alliances to other small business organizations.
And finally, joining us on the panel is Patty DeDominic from DeDominic and Associates. Patty is the managing partner and co-founder of DeDominic Associates, a specialized business consultant firmed that offers professional services to enterprise builders and other high achievers. Well, Patty is known and high regarded for her own achievements and the incredible business success that she’s had. She’s especially close to all of us for her tireless commitment to helping other women entrepreneurs. Patty was a part of that very important period of time in the national organization history. One of the expansion increase, visibility and yes, change.
She was part of the delegation to the White House Conferences on small business and attended the UN Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, a task national president and task president and president of emeritus of the Los Angeles Chapter. Patty was named NAWBO LA’s Philanthropist of the Year in 2006 for her unprecedented $1 million challenge grant to the LA chapter in the enterprise institute. Please join me in welcoming all three of our panel to the stage for a conversation about us.
Okay, this is intended to be a very informal discussion about their perspective on NAWBO’s history and what they’re doing today relates to our collective future from whatever platform from which we’re operating from and I think that I will start to my extreme left and with Patty and really Patty, if you could show it just for a moment what NAWBO has contributed to your development as an entrepreneur and really how you see the impact of the organization from your advantage point having been involved so many years.
Patty: I joined NAWBO I think in about 1981 maybe 1980 in California and I learned so much. You know NAWBO is a mere that we hold for ourselves and that others hold for us and we can reflect our lives back and forth to each other and in 1981 my business was about 300,000 a year and I was working hard and I didn’t know if that was bigger enough but I remember going to my first NAWBO meeting and then saying, “Yeah, that’s good, keep it up.”
I also remember being President of the Los Angeles chapter which is probably in 83 or 84 and for the very first time in my life here in certain words like venture capitalist, I had to go back and look that one up. Also in the early nine days, Grace McGartland at the time was our national president. She lives between Toronto and Detroit. She was writing articles for our national newsletters. She calls me just because “Patty, I’m doing an article on virtual offices. What can you tell me?” I said I’ll call you back tomorrow. That was in about 1993 that was the first time I think I never heard that term.
And then I remember also being involved. I mean there so many person major contributions to my life the support system that we give each other the continual learning, the permission that we give each other to learn and to develop and to teach. I remember one particularly profound moment where one of the members of FCAM, The Women Business Owners of the World. We were all together at the meeting and she was enthusiastic and emotional and thankful all at once. She was now Albanian business owner and she said thank you for being here. She wasn’t talking to me. She was talking to the collective NAWBO and others.
So can you imagine how it is for me in a country that doesn’t appreciate women and doesn’t even allow capitalism? So here she was a woman business owner in Albania and being able to come to an international meeting and meet other people like her capitalists, women in business was you know the most important thing that she done all here. So those are few of the things that I learned through the years and I look forward to talking to you more about NAWBO’s evolution.
Cynthia McClain: Terrific! I’m just going to skip over to now at this side of the desk and ask you Sharon. If you could just tell us a little bit about NAWBO’s involvement in the early years of the development at the center and from where you sit now on how the work that you do really reflects and advances the mission of this organization.
Sharon: You know I was totally unprepared.
Cynthia McClain: But you like it.
Sharon: Yes, I know and I was listening to Patty and she was sharing some names and I’m looking around seeing so many wonderful friends and I go back to the first days of what was then the National Foundation for Women Business Owners and I’m going to tell you a bit of my personal story. I had been with IBM for 21 years and had never wanted to be an entrepreneur. I mean a whole bunch of the service, nothing that prepared me for what I ended up doing and IBM at that point was 1987-1988 you’ll see the congruence of dates here in minute.
They did their first “white sizing” and at first I wasn’t going to take advantage of it but I have been commuting for several years between my home where my husband was and where my IBM career took me and I was forced, well friend of mine had shown my performance evaluation will go down that everybody that I’m responsible for doesn’t attend out one of these meetings about how we’re going to do this output or whatever they call it and so I said “Oh, right just for you I’m going to go”. And they took us through a values conversation. You have to talk about your values.
Well, I had one of those a high experiences that you’ll only get once in a while in your life when I realized that by not living with my husband in a community but spending three days, one place four days the other, there were so many things that were important to me in terms of community and in terms of family that I didn’t have the chance to do. I never heard the rest of the seminar. I was so amazed and I ended up living IBM and going home to live with my husband. Well, now I have to figure out what to do next with my life and while I was networking I thought a network was what connected to computers in those days. Someone said to me, “No Sharon, it’s about you have to meet three people and one of those people you meet has to give you three more names.
Well, I was a corporate woman. I think yeah, I had this whole thing drawn out you know and I met the most wonderful visionary, a woman named Jillian Rodd and I don’t know how many of you know Jillian Rodd. Jillian was a National President of NAWBO and this was then the foundation. Now the center came to be, she was one of the leaders who as she finish her terms presidency what else do we have to do? And part of what happened with HR 50-50 was that the law included a requirement to collect data on women known businesses.
And what Jillian said is this is so important and yeah with descript of women who would come together 12 years earlier to say we should or how it may to form NAWBO. Well, a similar group lead by Jillian Rod and Laura Henderson and a few others came together and said we need an organization that can provide the same kind of hard economic data about women known businesses that we have about the rest of the economy and as part of my networking to meet Jillian and to meet Laura and we agreed. There was no match. They wanted someone who knew how to do fundraising and had none profit experience.
I wanted to work for a large corporation because I love bureaucracy. I know we’ll talk about that separately. And I certainly didn’t want to go begging which is what I thought fund raising was. And so we agreed that I would come three months part time to help them get the system in place while they look where in an Executive Director and I look for a job. Now these were wonderful, they’ll say “you don’t worry we’ll give you all our corporate contacts they have about two of them” let’s get real. But that’s okay you know and so the Center of the Women’s Business Research will celebrate its 20th anniversary starting October 1, 2008 and I’m the full time Executive Director. I think we’re actually being talked about succession planning back to as how many years it’s been.
So that’s kind of a long way of saying what NAWBO has done I believed among many other things has given rise to some of these visionaries who said let us look at what the world could be and now let us do what we have to do to make it be what we are envisioning and I have been privileged through the research, through the association and the affiliation with all of you in this room with NAWBO for 20 years now. I’ve been privileged to be part of trying to make what could be what is.
Cynthia McClain: Thank you and then finally to our far right I think that Sharon, you said it quite well. My question to you really is as over like you to just to give it some feedback on is that you think about what you do in terms of putting into action that desire to make the world what it should be. How that is informed by, inspired by and connected to your experiences as a part of NAWBO?
Barbara Kasoff: Thank you and its such an honor to be here and we just start off by saying that there so many friends and so much history in NAWBO and in here in this room and our history is our present and our future and it’s just wonderful to be part of this and to be able to have the richness of this conversation. I hope you all appreciate how rare it is to be able to have an organization like NAWBO where we can have this kind of discussion where we go back so many years and know that our very roots and our counting is brought us to a position in this country that is nowhere replicated, nowhere in the world and its because of leaders like Patty because of what Sharon has done and other leaders in this room that make history years ago and I was still making it today is part of NAWBO.
I joined NAWBO shortly after HR 50-50 and became very actively involved they owned a communications, telecommunications company that was very iatrical and part of NAWBO it was a precursor to what email is today except it was through voice and all of NAWBO was network through the system so people knew Sharon by her voice when she walk into room they’d here or me or Patty or any of our other leaders but I joined—when I joined NAWBO I became very actively involved because of my business at first and then because of the influence of Jillian. Jillian Rod and one of the first things I remember that I was asked to do for NAWBO and I think shape so much of where I am today and the participation I have an advocacy. They ask me to put together the Jillian Rod award.
And I remember I was ask to do and I was honored to do it and I said of course I’ll do it and they said we’ll tell you all about Jillian and explain to you and I went about that day saying to several people I’m in charge with the Jillian Rod award. That’s a new award and every time I said the words, the person would start crying and I had no idea why. And I came to learn of the significance that she played in shaping the role of women and policy and the confidence that we achieve. The face that we held in this country together and it was through that it actually shape the world that I play today in with is first as it co-founder and now is its president.
I learned because of Jillian Rod and because of women like this how important to this at that time that we have to seat at the table. We didn’t have to seat at the table and HR 50-50 gave us the seat of the table. Today we have that seat at the table and now we’re learning to leverage our power and that’s what with this about. And it’s all of those wonderful leadership qualities that I learned in NAWBO. I was the Vice-president of public policy and a number of different activities but it was learning and creating and sharing and networking and building the collaboration that thought me how very important to this that we exercise the power that we have.
We are in a position in a crossroads today that we are either going to let other people make decisions for us or we are going to make our own decisions and it’s because of NAWBO that women across the country are able to make those decisions now.
Sharon: You know I would interrupt you for a minute. You said you want it to be a conversation. I’m going to tell you a secret publicly. Jillian Rod gave a very inspirational speech when she left her NAWBO presidency and guess who has the video of that? So sometime when we were talking about NAWBO and NAWBO history it would make or may even something on the website. I love to have made that available in that video we called the “The Princess Speech” because she said that she was going to tell you a fairy tale about a little girl who was born in the forest of wherever in England and she made it like a fairy tale that about all her the work that she have done, the things that Barbara’s talked and Patty and they called that like a story and a fairy tale but the most powerful part of it is that she said, she traveled around the world on behalf of NAWBO and on behalf on women business owners and she said—I’m paraphrasing.
I wish I could remember her words exactly but what she saw that these women are so strong and make such a different in the world and that we must make sure that they have every opportunity to continue to grow and that’s really I think what NAWBO is about and I think what’s also important and I’m sorry if I’ve totally taken this over but what I think—what I want to say one of the things that I think is really important that I see is the inclusiveness of NAWBO and over the years it is become increasingly so and when I pay tribute to its leaders to realize that its multiple organizations working together with different focuses.
You know one is what you get out of NAWBO with the membership and the services and the training with the work with public policy, the involvement I know that you had with FCAM on an international level and most of all —of course multiple I think Center for Women Business Research but the realization of the need to foster an organization like this. The Center for Women Business Research that can now provide information, knowledge, day-to-day driven knowledge that we share not only within NAWBO but across the women’s entrepreneurship range and I think that’s a real tribute to the NAWBO leaders who’ve seen that role of inclusiveness for NAWBO.
Cynthia McClain: Thank you, Sharon. I’m going to take one more question to Patty and then I’m going to really open it up to allow people in the audience to have an opportunity to you know present questions to these women so that you can kind of you know find out what’s in your mind and see what’s on there is. Patty, you close your comments by saying and I look forward to talking about the evolution or the future of what’s happening here and my question to you is, as someone who is deeply involved in NAWBO during the time its apex of it, its strength and its forcefulness in terms of shaping not only public policy but really asserting the presence of women in the marketplace and you know kind of on the planet as Barbara says at the table. What were you thinking then and as you sit here today, what were you looking for now?
Patty: I want to tell you about one of my very first NAWBO national meetings. It was at the Fountain Blue Hotel in Florida. Now you got to figure it out. That was almost 30 years ago. So it was a magnificent hotel then as it is today I’m sure but it was really interesting because Florida, I don’t remember what month it was. It might have been June but it rained. I remember it was totally raining but that didn’t daunt any of us. We had such a grand time.
We had NAWBO resources speaking about every different subject you could want. How to do a spreadsheet and some NAWBO women really did know how to do spreadsheets 30 years ago and how did you forecast and how to make your presentation to the bank and how to show the bank that you had at least two different methods of repayment of the loan and those other kinds of little tricks of the trade that business people know or bigger business people know that you have to have but no one had shared that with us.
Lourdes Miranda was the president nationally at the time and here I come and there is this peppery, petite woman. Was Lourdes from Puerto Rico originally or Cuba? I can't recall but she was incredible and then there was the board table. They were about 30 presidents at the board table. This was the other than my father’s office and when I was in my early career I worked as a sales manager and trainer for Avon at the corporate office of Avon. This was the most impressive board meeting room I had ever seen and then this powerful women who were you and me and Linda and Sharon and Debra, we came together around the table and we had issues and we talk about other chapter’s issues and we were always much better at solving other people’s problem than with our own problems.
But there were so many things that we did that were extraordinary. I think one of the best things I learned was that we don’t have to wait for someone to give us the power. We actually already have it. We should stop sniveling about what we don’t have and just go out and get what we want and what we need. And then probably be able to do it with some grace so that you don’t get accused of being you know that nasty person who goes out and steam everything but there have been so many great things. You know that committee of 200 well they may have forgotten and I didn’t forget that the committee of 200 was also born of NAWBO.
Enterprising women magazine was born of NAWBO. We were the first organization to push for a certification and reaching out for more women in business owners getting some of those measly less than a quarter of a percent of government contracts that we were getting at that time. So we set up the very first women business ownership certification program. Women Inc., expand out of NAWBO, Women Inc has subsequently sort of disappeared about women presidents organization leave on. So that’s been of NAWBO. Gosh! There are so many extraordinary things that came out of what we did.
So I think its important now to tell ourselves that we already have all the resources that we need. It’s a matter of being able to articulate what it is that we need now and to incorporate the training, the great training that we got today from our Disney speaker who talked about that kind of leaderships style and being the difference from being a good leader to being a great leader.
So being able to stand up, have the visions, see what needs to be done within our business, within our chapter and our community and at the national level because the thing that brought me to NAWBO in the early days was a simple mission then training leaders for a world of change. The world changing everyday and we are so well trained and we got to get out there and do a little bit more to help others so that it can be a little bit better place for other people because we’ve enjoyed such a magnificent country and organization and I would really like us to share more of what we have done and can do with others.
Cynthia McClain: Thank you.
Small Business Stories - The History of NAWBO
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