Women in Business | Professional group celebrates third year as force for networking, change

  - Carol Ladwig / Snoqualmie Valley Record
— image credit: Carol Ladwig / Snoqualmie Valley Record

Ann Landry wrote a song for the occasion, and got Louise Wall and Nancy Wray to sing and dance backup, too. It was no surprise to the ladies assembled for the June meeting of Snoqualmie Valley Women in Business—they were used to Landry’s musical ways, and besides, it was a special day.

The event was the third anniversary—the song was a birthday song, and there was cake—of the organization, started by a handful of businesswomen dedicated to bringing personal and professional growth, community service, and networking opportunities to their fellow businesswomen.

“I was just looking at a picture (of the group) this morning. There were only 14 people, and at least half of us are still members, and deeply involved,” said Carolyn Hunter, a co-treasurer on the SVWIB board.

Hunter, owner of Cascade Accounting in North Bend, said she joined the group when it was still just an idea from her client, Leslie Williams.

“She just saw a need for women to come and start networking together,” said Bev Jorgenson, co-chairperson of the group’s Business Committee.

In three years, the group has gained nearly 100 members, from North Bend, Snoqualmie, Fall City, Carnation, Duvall, and cities outside the Valley, too.

“I work out of my home in Fall City,” said esthetician Rosie Lynch, “and this is a great place to come and meet other women. Jolynn, who is a great networker, told me about it, and she lives in Auburn!”

Jolynn Hohnstein does live in Auburn, but as a credit card processor, she’s active in businesswomen organizations throughout the Puget Sound area, and she recognizes an opportunity when it comes up. “The reason I found out about (SVWIB) is Kim Arellano is one of my clients,” she said. Arellano is the SVWIB President this year, so Hohnstein knew she had to “check it out!”

Since joining, she says, “I find a great sense of community here.”

That sense is strengthened at the group’s monthly luncheons, where guest speakers talk about ways to grow, manage and market your business, and about social responsibility, leadership, and friendships. There is always a winner of an “Attagirl” Award, and this month, there were two—Arellano, who successfully completed her Master’s Degree earlier this year while continuing to wear all of her other community and family hats, and Mary Miller, friend of guest speaker Heather Ryan. Ryan gave a tearful but inspiring talk about how and why she survived breast cancer, with the help of her community and friends, and detailed the many, many ways that Miller supported her through her illness.

“She’s been there every step of the way, and she’s tirelessly helped me through the good days, the bad days, and the in-between days, my very best friend, Mary Miller.”

Loud and loving applause followed both awards.

Friendship and support are plentiful, but not the only reason the club is growing. Each meeting includes pitches by members about their products or services, and a regular half-hour of pure networking after the lunch. And if you’ve ever doubted the power of personal networking, Hunter can set you straight. “I get all of my business from referrals,” she said.

Networking opportunities in the Valley are not broadly available Hunter added, and not all of the organizations appeal.

“Many people have recommended this group to me,” said Emily Senff of the American Cancer Society. Senff had not joined yet, but was considering it. “I think it’s a nice alternative to the Chamber,” she said.

For Hunter, SVWIB is ideal. “Not only are there business opportunities, but these girls are a lot of fun!”

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