Bobbie Norton, President, CVWBN
Since its inaugural meeting in January, 1991, the Comox Valley Women’s Business Network has been meeting monthly to listen to top calibre speakers, network, and share members’ expertise. Diana Patterson, then Director of Unemployment Insurance, initiated its formation 25 years ago with 65 first members. It was a timely move as women had become a driving force in business creation: Between 1981 and 1986, five new businesses were started by Canadian women for every one started by a man.
The format for the meetings hasn’t changed. Then and now, members are encouraged to participate in the monthly meetings and share their business experiences. The mandate of the organization also remains the same: It provides an opportunity for women to network in an environment that supports each member’s professional and personal growth.
The CVWBN has always supported other non-profit organizations within the community through donations. In 2011, President Jenny Deters spearheaded the formation of the BOOST program which stands for Building Opportunities for Organizations using our Strengths and Talents. A new recipient is announced each year and, at the end of the year, that organization receives a donation of half of the money the CVWBN has collected throughout the year. This year, we are supporting Habitat for Humanity.
Four founding members have agreed to join us for a panel discussion at our anniversary event. Linda McLean was the first President and ran McLean Production services from 1990 to 1996. Heather James was President in 1997 and operated her business, James & Assoc. Delia Broswick served as Treasurer for several years and owned Delia Broswick Bookkeeping. Pauline Stevenson was President in 1994 and is the director/owner of Excel Career College.
Our moderator for the evening, Judy Atkinson, was a founding member and the President in 1993. In 1991, she was the Work Experience Coordinator for School District 71. She created the Minerva Award that is still presented each year to a member of the CVWBN who has contributed significantly to the growth of the organization by sharing her experience, time and energy. Minerva was the Greek goddess of poetry, medicine, commerce, and craft and is depicted with an owl, the symbol of wisdom.
The reunion is a celebration of both the organization that promotes these qualities in women and the women who aspire to them, then and now. It is a wonderful opportunity to learn from the wisdom and experience of first members.
Bobbie Norton is President of the Comox Valley Women’s Business Network. You can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.cvwbn.org to find out more.