In 1990, six dynamic self-made entrepreneurs lead by Pat Smurthway
managed the exhausting and exhilarating process of creating the East Bay Women’s Network (EBWN) organization. These women wanted to create a unique environment where professional women could be inspired, educated and could easily cultivate and grow their small businesses. Modeling this organization like a startup company, they began with strategy sessions, developed leadership roles, created a board, and generated a network of affiliates through their local Chamber of Commerce to attract members.
At that point, EBWN could begin to see their hard work come to fruition. These wonderful women and their small group began meeting at Strizzi’s in San Leandro with the members taking turns holding their board meetings in their homes. With each inviting 3 to 5 potential members, they had the same goal in mind, which was to solicit members that had the same desire of empowerment as well as to find mentors, networking, and resources to grow their own businesses. The meetings were designed for presentations, speakers, showcasing their entrepreneurial dreams, and fun. EBWN doubled in size in 1995, when Meg Connell, Vesta Stump, and Susan Askin appropriately named “The Marketing Goddesses”, created the systems and backbone of what we currently know as EBWN.
From 1995 until 2001, they became members of the San Leandro, Castro Valley, and Hayward Chamber of Commerce. They hosted their meetings and events at not only Strizzi’s but also the Englander. Then in 2001, we saw the nation’s startups bubble burst and membership experienced a slow growth. In 2008, the nation gained some economical ground and EBWN moved to Alameda, where they found a partnership with the Grand Pavilion, and became members of the Alameda Chamber of Commerce.
With their Alameda home base established, EBWN was 60 members strong and their membership continues to grow inviting professional women and the entrepreneurial spirit to climb to new heights. Their dreams continue as they support their members by assisting them in navigating through the business world. These dynamic women still encourage members to bring a guest, network, highlight themselves, seek out innovative, motivational speakers, mentor businesswomen, and most importantly “HAVE FUN”.