Few things are as priceless as a family heirloom--something special and meaningful that is kept in the family, passed from one generation to the next, growing in value and significance.
ABWA has become an heirloom to many families nationwide. Grandmothers share the benefits of the Association with their daughters and granddaughters. Sisters grow closer as they support each other's personal and professional accomplishments. Aunts, nieces, cousins and in-laws bond as they attend chapter meetings, conferences and conventions together. THREE GENERATIONS
Michele Moir is an example of a member who has shared the Association with her daughter, Diane Walters, and granddaughter, Laura Walters.
Michele, a member of Palo Alto Charter Chapter and a budget officer at Stanford University in California, joined ABWA 22 years ago because she wanted to meet other businesswomen and learn new skills at the seminars and workshops. Through the years, she noticed that the Association was very progressive, changing to meet the needs of the members as more were college educated and reaching higher positions in their fields. She thought her daughter, a nurse, could benefit from membership, so she took her to National Convention, then recruited her.
"It enriches your family as well as your chapter because you then have something in common," says Diane, a member of El Sol Chapter in Tucson, Ariz. "Mothers are supposed to mentor their daughters and ABWA gives credence to that mentoring process."
Diane feels she would not have been recognized as one of the Top Ten Business Women of ABWA in 1994 if it hadn't been for her mother's support and encouragement. "She told me I was Top Ten material. You expect that from your mom, but because she has been a member for so long, I knew she understood what it meant." When Diane found out she received the honor, her mother was the first person she called.
The grandmother, mother and daughter have had unforgettable moments together in ABWA. At a spring conference in Monterey, Calif. in 1991, they got dressed up and were walking to dinner when a photographer stopped them and asked to take a picture. "This is the most impressive photo opportunity I've seen, three generations looking so much alike," Michele recalls the photographer saying.
Laura, who worked in talent management for comedians and as a personal assistant for actor Tim Allen in Los Angeles before working as a legal secretary in Tucson, says her mother and grandmother have "dragged" her to ABWA events since she was in high school.
"My mother and I are like the yin and yang because we do so much together. When I moved back to Arizona, there was no question whether I'd join her chapter. And it wasn't until I joined a chapter that I had a concept of what ABWA was really about, the networking, job contacts and seminars to hone your skills."
They were proud to have "three-and-a-half generations" attend National Convention in Charlotte, N.C. last year. And since Laura's daughter, Shelby Diane, now seven months old, hasn't missed a meeting yet, the family's convinced she'll be a fourth-generation member. GROWING A CHAPTER BY RECRUITING DAUGHTERS
Recruiting family members is a great way to grow a chapter. Just ask members of La Luz Chapter in Albuquerque, N.M., which recently celebrated its unique family ties--six groups of mothers and daughters or mothers and daughters-in-law.
"There's a time in your chapter's life when you need young people with new ideas. By bringing your daughters, it opens the door for them to invite their friends. Overall, that's refreshing," says Ursula Garduno, who recruited her daughter, Helene Metoyer, an attorney.
Ursula, a project manager for a software development company, says it's been a relief that her daughter and other members' daughters have jumped in and assumed leadership roles in the chapter. "It helps spread the responsibilities around and lets us (the older members) sit back in supportive roles."
Norma McDonald, an Xray technician, says she recruited her daughter-in-law, Regina Parks, because she thought support from other businesswomen and the educational opportunities available in ABWA would help Regina's career as a sales representative at a crafts store. She has been proud to watch Regina gain self-confidence and express her ideas while serving in chapter leadership positions. "It's been my pleasure to support her and watch her grow," Norma said.
Norma was sponsored by her mother, Hilda Boese, a 29-year member of Salt City Chapter in Hutchinson, Kan. Hilda, who retired from the appliance service and receiving departments at Sears, says she gained confidence and personal contacts through ABWA and especially enjoys awarding scholarships. She's glad her daughter and granddaughter have those same opportunities. The three generations are able to attend chapter meetings together from time to time, but the 84-year-old is hopeful they can attend the National Convention in Albuquerque together in 2001. WOMAN SPONSORS HER MOTHER AND DAUGHTER
Sheri Parrack, owner of Texas Motor Transportation Consultants in Houston, works closely every day with her daughter, Lisa Keith, a title examiner. It seemed only natural that she ask Lisa to join ABWA.
"My daughter has grown up with me in ABWA and has watched me participate on all levels and travel from coast to coast," says Sheri, member of UP Chapter in Houston. "When she attended local events with me, my ABWA friends became her friends. I'm proud she's a member."
Since joining ABWA 20 years ago, Sheri has belonged to three chapters; served in every committee and office, including four terms as president; was named one of the Top Ten Business Women of ABWA in 1992 and served on the National Board from 1994-96. Lisa says she became a national member and attends events with her mother to show support for her accomplishments. But she's gotten more out of membership than she expected.
"It has helped me make mature decisions and be confident as a woman in a male-dominated business," Lisa says. "I feel confident having role models that have achieved success in their business--I want to grow and achieve that too."
Sheri also sponsored her mother, Maxine Rosson of La Mesa, Texas, three years ago so she could receive ABWA publications and keep up-to-date on Association events and programs. "There isn't a chapter in my town, but I love reading about what's going on and what my daughter has accomplished," Maxine a retired accountant says. "It makes me happy that my daughter and granddaughter are so active. It's done so much for their careers and friendships." BIGGER THAN THE BRADY BUNCH
The Kettler family tree branches out with more than 160 years of combined membership. Olive Huchan recruited her nephew's wife, Maggie Kettler, who sponsored her cousin-in-law, Anna Kettler. Anna has two daughters, a daughter-in-law, a sister-in-law and a niece who are members. "The joke is, a Kettler always wins the door prize at our chapter meetings," says Anna, member of Alvin Daytimers and Alvin Area Achiever-Mimosa chapters in Alvin, Texas.
A technical editor for NASA contractors, Anna says she recruited many of her family members because, "I enjoy ABWA very much and wanted them to get into it. There are opportunities for friendship and learning business skills by attending conventions."
The Kettlers say they enjoy attending chapter meetings because it gives them an opportunity to see relatives more often. As many as possible will cram into a car to attend a Business Woman of the Year luncheon, spring conference or weekend event together. "We always have a good time," Anna says.
She expects the Kettlers to continue having a strong presence in ABWA. She plans to recruit her 13-year-old granddaughter when she's old enough to join. And Maggie plans to sponsor her daughter-in-law and granddaughter when their children start school.
Maggie, a retired cafeteria manager at Alvin Community College, said one reason so many family members have joined is the convenience--ABWA chapters understand working women don't have a lot of time to spend at meetings and will limit them to two hours. Plus, her family wanted to experience the camaraderie, networking, public speaking, leadership and educational opportunities she did.
"ABWA means so much to me. It helped me make friends and find support for my career, more so than in the work force because there's too much competition there. If you get a raise, ABWA members are proud of you," Maggie says. QUALITY TIME FOR SISTERS
Attending spring conferences and national conventions is bonding time for sisters Karen Hall, Janice Turnbull and Marilyn Lash, members of Tipacon Charter Chapter in Auburn Hills, Mich. They sing, tell stories and stop at antique shops, garage sales and discount stores along the way. But it wouldn't be a family trip without one of them pulling a prank on the others, as Marilyn did at the 1989 National Convention in Nashville, Tenn. In the elevator Marilyn met a national officer candidate and her husband dressed like a fish. Marilyn agreed to escort the man to his hotel room since he couldn't see out of the costume. But first, she took him to the room she was sharing with her sisters. She knocked on the door and hollered, "I went fishing and caught something. Look what I brought you." Her sisters opened the door and cracked up laughing.
On a more serious note, the sisters say they have grown personally and professionally in ABWA. And other family members have too, including their aunt, Helen Hamm, who recruited Marilyn; Karen's daughter, Sherri Karabelski, member of Tipacon Charter Chapter; and three of Janice's daughters, Laurie Dallape, Kelle Hruska and Andrea Davis, all national members. "We're an ABWA family," says Karen.
By serving three terms as chapter president, delivering speeches and presenting seminars, Marilyn proved to her bosses she could handle leadership roles and multiple projects. She also received support from fellow ABWA members through each phase of her life--as she changed careers, left the work force to raise her three sons, returned to the work force, earned a college degree and accepted her current position as a field surveyor and data entry coordinator for a research project.
"ABWA has broadened our horizons about what is available for women in the work force. It has also helped us build our self-confidence and be ourselves in front of others," Marilyn says.
Karen, a model turned sales representative, says ABWA has been "heaven sent" because it helped her in many areas: building self-confidence, learning business skills and making friends. But more importantly, she feels her family was fortunate to have the support of ABWA members during many tragedies: when her husband died, when her daughter Sherri was seriously injured in a car accident and when Sherri's son was born with Down's syndrome and a heart defect.
Sherri quit her job in advertising sales to care for her son, but Karen is confident that when the time comes, ABWA networking opportunities will help her daughter re-enter the work force. "It's such a part of my life, I can't imagine life without ABWA," Karen says.
Janice, a real estate broker, says she and her sisters, daughters and niece are busy women and live up to 45 miles apart, but their chapter meetings bring them together on a regular basis. They have much to gain and contribute to the Association. Janice, like Karen, has served as a District V vice president, and says she enjoys mentoring young businesswomen. "ABWA offers wholesome activities for women. Many need this exposure to develop their own skills," Janice says.
After being in ABWA for more than 20 years, all the members are like family, Karen says. "We become so close. We're invited to all the family functions, weddings and funerals. We're like sisters." FAMILY BONDING
Connie Feeney says the main reason she joined ABWA three years ago was to spend more time with her husband's grandmother, Velma Feeney, a member for 41 years of New Horizons Chapter in Kansas City, Mo. Connie especially enjoyed serving as program chair with Velma, who worked as a bank officer, founded Feeney Insurance Agency and owned and operated a Hallmark card store. "She's such a role model for the whole family because she's done so much in her life and is still going strong," Connie says.
Through ABWA, Velma says she gained leadership skills by serving as a national secretary-treasurer; business skills by attending chapter meetings, conferences and conventions; and clients and customers by networking. She also was active with the chamber of commerce and an insurance organization, but she felt ABWA gave her a greater diversity of opinions on business issues. Velma wanted her family to experience the same benefits of ABWA so she sponsored Connie as well as her daughter-in-law, Sandra Feeney of Olathe, Kan., who was a member for about a year. She's pleased Connie has remained an active member of New Horizons Chapter.
"Connie works in an investment firm and wants to become a good businesswoman," says Velma. "She wants to learn, become a leader in her field and grow. ABWA has many seminars to help with that." Connie is an asset to the chapter as well, Velma adds. "She's a leader by nature, so when things need to be done, she does it and does it well."
One day, Connie hopes to share the benefits of ABWA with her 1-year-old daughter, Addison. "ABWA is all encompassing," Connie says. "You make friends all over the country, do community service and improve your business skills. I'd love for my daughter to be a part of that. It would be a great experience for her."