Valley networking group empowers women in leadership

Snoqualmie Valley Women in Leadership hold first event Jan. 31.

By Kienan Briscoe

For the Valley Record

Wendy Parslow, North Bend resident, has committed to the ambitious goal of helping one million women be better leaders in the next 15 years. To do this, she founded the Snoqualmie Valley Women in Leadership group to equip women leaders in the Valley with the resources, connections and skills to thrive and build better workplaces and communities.

The idea started in January, when Parslow reached out on a Facebook group asking if there were any other women in the area looking to network. Within 24 hours, she had 50 responses, which jumped to 75 in just two weeks.

“I thought, oh, I think I hit on something here,” said Parslow, who then built a steering committee and received her first sponsor — Parker, Smith, and Feek, a Pacific Northwest-based, privately-owned insurance brokerage. She scheduled her first inaugural event, which took place Jan. 31 at the Meadowbrook Farm Interpretive Center.

The event was what she called an “inaugural networking kickoff” with around 50 attendees gathering to discuss becoming leaders, in all its forms, in their community. Each of the attendees wore name tags that specified what they wanted to be asked about, and participated in various engagement activities.

“I already had an inkling that there was something needed to connect women, and women leaders in particular,” said Parslow. “Over the last two months, I have really been reflecting on my own legacy that I want to leave on the world and the concept of leadership quickly rose to the top of those reflections. I was thinking positive change in the world doesn’t happen without good leadership.”

Parslow has a background in event coordination, with the bulk of that experience coming via outdoor recreation company REI, most recently through their Experience Division’s National Operations. Before that she worked with K-2 Sports running their event marketing department, organizing events across the country including a snowshoeing event to raise awareness for breast cancer.

“There’s just so much power when you get people of different talents, and diversity together to see what can be accomplished,” said Parslow.

The morning of the kick-off event, Parslow was notified she was let go of her position at REI — just one of 167 employees the company announced it would lay off Jan. 31.

Instead of taking the evening to process the information with her family, Parslow led her inaugural meeting feeling supported, inspired, and having a sense of hope from 49 other women — most of them strangers she had only communicated with through email. Through the connections she made that evening, she said numerous women have reached out through LinkedIn, or offered to have coffee with her to discuss future job opportunities.

“I didn’t expect it to have such an impact on me so soon, but I just think it’s such a powerful story on how it can make an impact,” said Parslow.

Despite her layoff, Parslow has not been discouraged from her commitment to helping one million women in the next 15 years. The group, which now has 130 members on its email list, is considering a monthly meetup similar to its kickoff event Jan. 31 and hopes to host another event in the spring with speakers, breakout sessions and skill-building content. The idea is still early in its planning stages.

“We want to provide support and structure for women to get connected with smaller groups that help them in their leadership journey,” said Parslow.

Parslow has lived in North Bend for the last eight years, with her husband and two daughters. She was originally drawn to the area’s beauty, which reminded her of the “small-town” feel she grew up knowing in her home state of California.

“I will never forget my first week living in North Bend when I would drive home and Mount Si was just right there I just felt my city armor start to fall off,” said Parslow.

In addition to founding the Snoqualmie Valley Women in Leadership group, she is a member of the North Bend Economic Development Commission, which she joined feeling she needed to give back to her community. Her work with the Economic Development Commission works in tandem with her Women in Leadership group, she said, because inspiring women to pursue leadership roles, to open their own business for example, can help the Snoqualmie Valley’s overall economic growth.

“The pandemic taught us that virtual connection is great, but it really left a void in the power of connecting in person. I think it can really play a part in building our community up as we connect with others that are like-minded. Secondly, this type of group is like a first domino when we think of bigger impact on the world. This type of group will help build better leaders and with better leaders you change the world,” Parslow said.

Those interested in learning more about the Snoqualmie Valley Women in Leadership group, or getting involved, can contact Wendy Parslow at Or leave feedback on her survey at

Courtesy photo.
Snoqualmie Valley Women in Leadership group’s inaugural gathering Jan. 31.

Courtesy photo. Snoqualmie Valley Women in Leadership group’s inaugural gathering Jan. 31.