The Legacy of WBOA

Two Generations Strong, and Growing

Since 1981, WBOA members connect and build businesses, discuss strategies and help each other in one of the most difficult and rewarding career paths: Entrepreneurship.

Smart, Savvy Women Supporting Each Other

First WBOA Meeting

January 4, 1982

Women business owners met on January 4, 1982 at WNEC under leadership from Renate Oliver and Elizabeth Ayers

WBOA Kicks Off

August 21, 1986

WBOA Kicks Off

After spending time as a project of the WNEC Division of Non-Credit Programs, WBOA established as an independent non-profit corporation.

Building the Future Trade Show

February 25, 1988

Building the Future Trade Show

WBOA held its first trade show at Baystate West (now Tower Square), the first of many expos and tabletop events.

First Woman of the Year

June 1, 1991

First Woman of the Year

Alice Stelzer was named the inaugural Woman of the Year.

WBOA Reaches 100 Members

January 1, 1992

WBOA Reaches 100 Members

Shortly after celebrating our first ten years, our membership numbered over 100 for the first time. Dottie Hines was WBOA’s 100th member.

Cheryl Reed Memorial Loan Fund Established

January 1, 1993

In honor of recently passed founding member the Cheryl Reed Memorial Loan Fund was established to give low-interest loans to WBOA members.

WBOA’s Database Gets Computerized

January 1, 1995

At a time when green ledger sheets were commonplace, WBOA stayed on the cutting-edge with a computerized database of its membership.

WBOA.org Launched

January 1, 1997

WBOA.org Launched

WBOA’s first online home went live, one of the first million (or so) websites to be created (today there are over a billion websites).

Habitat for Humanity

June 5, 1999

Habitat for Humanity

WBOA worked with the Greater Springfield Habitat for Humanity to build 2 houses in Lower Liberty Heights, Springfield.

Outstanding New Member Award Established

June 16, 2005

Outstanding New Member Award Established

Sally Chambliss was recognized as the first Outstanding New Member.

WBOA Celebrates 25 Years

May 10, 2007

WBOA Celebrates 25 Years

WBOA hosted stress management expert, Loretta LaRoche, to honor its 25th anniversary.

WBOA Hosts Women’s Night of Comedy

March 19, 2009

WBOA Hosts Women’s Night of Comedy

WBOA began hosting the Women’s Night of Comedy with the 16th annual event.

WBOA Celebrates 30 Years

June 21, 2012

WBOA Celebrates 30 Years

The mayor of West Springfield and Massachusetts Governor Duval Patrick recognized WBOA on its 30th anniversary.

First After 5 Held

September 11, 2012

First After 5 Held

WBOA debuted its “Connections and Cocktails” evening event, created by Debbie Sorcinelli.

WBOA Becomes 501(c)(3) Educational Non-profit

October 9, 2014

Thanks to the tireless work of Freda Brown, WBOA became eligible for charitable status as a 501(c)(3) organization.

WINGS Mentor Program Established

September 1, 2015

WINGS Mentor Program Established

Women Inspiring and Nurturing Growth for Success, led by Lori Fortuna, partnered with Springfield Technical Community College to provide one-on-one mentorship for women students interested in becoming entrepreneurs.

Social Media Boot Camp

October 13, 2016

Social Media Boot Camp

WBOA’s newly formed Education Committee kicked off with a Social Media Boot Camp, the first of many programs focused on providing hands-on education to help women grow their business.

WBOA Ribbon-Cutting at Keystone Mill

September 7, 2017

WBOA Ribbon-Cutting at Keystone Mill

WBOA opened its doors at the newly-refurbished Keystone Mill in 2017.

In the early 80s, three women sat down to discuss several issues of concern with area businesswomen, soon realizing they had a collective mission: To bring the area’s small businesswomen together, creating a place to share their hopes, fears, concerns and issues, and to gain support and answers.

Under the sponsorship of Western New England College’s Division of Non-Credit Programs, the group held monthly meetings, growing quickly by word of mouth to about 30 women. In 1986, WBOA became an independent non-profit organization. By the end of that year, 80 women had joined.

 For many of us, WBOA represented a safe haven; a place to discuss the challenges we faced as business owners and to try ideas without being judged. It was a catalyst for professional and personal growth.

– WBOA founding member, Barbara Foster

Building Your Network to Grow and Maintain a Successful Business

We are now celebrating over 35 years of women’s entrepreneurship. Our meetings and events are a place where you feel the palpable energy and hum of conversation as members connect with colleagues and work to grow their businesses.

The women of WBOA develop ideas, brainstorm strategies, and most importantly, build relationships with one another.

WBOA continues to attract members in all stages of business, and truly lives by its motto:

It’s Your Business. Don’t Grow It Alone.

Get the Support Your Business Needs

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