In late 1997, Eileen LaPorte, the founder and first president of WIC, organized a small network of long-time consultants who could benefit from collaborating in consulting engagements and sharing best practices in their own businesses. Originally called SEWN, the Self-Employed Women’s Network, WIC was born at the first official meeting in January 1998.
The purpose was twofold. First, create an organization of high-caliber professionals who were dedicated to their own consulting practices, and who wanted to improve their prospects for interesting projects and the breadth of their potential offering and to tap into a wealth of experience to improve their own business through the educational programs presented by WIC. Second, become the first destination for companies seeking seasoned professional consultants in a wide range of specialties.
Within months of the first meeting in the back room of Vic’s Restaurant in San Carlos, the invitation list grew to more than 200. Years later, WIC has exceeded all of its original goals, and then some.
Today, WIC has hundreds of members and supporters, an active community of full members, basic and Leaders Network members, satellites in the East Bay, Peninsula and South Bay, and a regular calendar of events that delivers best-in-class business advice and education on a wide spectrum of topics. WIC hosts an active email community that provides a forum where members collaborate, ask questions, get advice and find valuable business resources.
“WIC has been generously sharing best practices, expertise, advice and resources to expand its members’ capabilities, shorten time frames, and take our businesses to the next level successfully since 1998.”
Deb Siegle, Strategic Marketing Solutions
Kathie Sherman, President, 2013–2014
Kathie Sherman, president of TenFour Marketing, doubles direct marketing campaign response rates. Kathie develops and implements innovative direct marketing programs focused on doubling response and conversion rates, tracking, measuring and optimizing results, and achieving high ROI on her customers’ marketing programs.
TenFour Marketing is a new class of marketing agency providing technologies and services that improve and personalize the customer experience. Kathie has done work with some well- known companies including Apple, CapGemini, Sun Microsystems and Penton Media. They have seen two to 10 times increased response rates; one tripled their marketing pipeline and increased conference registration rates by five times.
Kathie's background includes more than 20 years in enterprise software and marketing. Her underlying philosophy is to ensure that marketing messages are clearly received by their target markets, in a relevant voice with personalized offers. She is an expert in the field of multi-media direct marketing, and her customers continue to defy direct marketing statistics by consistently more than doubling response rates.
Avery Horzewski, President, 2010–2012
“I can’t think of an organization that I love more—or one that has been more beneficial to my business and my sanity—than WIC. And I don’t say that because I was president. Quite the opposite. I became president because I believed so strongly in WIC. It’s an amazing organization comprised of amazing members who are generous with their time, ideas, and ears (Never underestimate the power of having a sounding board for ideas and issues!). It was truly my pleasure to serve them and work with such a talented group of smart, giving women as those who served on the board with me. Thank you!”
Linda Popky, President, 2008–2009
“It's been a privilege to lead WIC during the past two years. I’m continuously amazed at the quality and dedication of women who make up this organization—both the volunteers who give substantially of their time and energy to drive WIC, and those vibrant, successful, independent business women who are our members and affiliates. Their efforts and strong collaborative spirit have transformed WIC into the premier organization for supporting women at all stages of consulting. We look forward to working together with our community of consultants and the greater business community to take WIC and its members to the next level in the coming decade.”
Karilee Wirthin, President, 2006–2007
“I joined WIC right after starting my business in 1999. I always say I wouldn’t be in business today if it weren’t for WIC. Not only have I learned how to run and manage a successful consulting practice, but I gained a great set of colleagues who pump me up when things don’t go well and cheer me on when they do. This camaraderie has been an integral part of my business success. Serving as WIC’s president was a great honor, and I was thrilled to give back to the organization that’s been so pivotal in building my business.”
Deborah Henken, President, 2004–2005
“It was my honor and privilege to work with some of the most amazing women that I’ve ever met. Each of us focused on building our businesses, while always offering a hand, heart, and mind to support others in their goals. WIC was my foundation for running my consulting practice. Leading the group allowed me to give back to the organization and help it grow in new directions.”
Kate Purmal, President, 2002–2003
“WIC is a vital resource for its members, providing information, coaching, and tools to help them launch and grow a successful consulting business. Equally important, WIC facilitates opportunities for networking and collaboration between its members. By far, the greatest reward from my tenure as president and time on the Board was seeing the positive impact that WIC had on the success of our members. WIC is responsible for creating lifelong business partnerships and enduring friendships. Not many organizations can make that claim.”
Amy Fritz, President, 2000–2001
“I was in awe of the benevolence and collaboration of the WIC women during my time in the organization. To this day, I hold it up as the gold standard for the communities with which I work. It was an honor to serve as president.”
Elaine Starling, President, 1999
“I attended the second WIC meeting and became the second president. I am continually energized, inspired, and empowered by the other consultants who run and attend WIC events. The collaborative nature of the group illustrates the potential for every participant to excel. WIC maintains an orientation of welcoming others, remaining open to participation and input, accepting strongly differing perspectives, nurturing new and growing consultants, supporting each other’s determination to excel, providing informative programs, and showcasing an insightful group of volunteers. I attribute a great deal of my personal and professional success to my involvement in WIC.”
Eileen LaPorte, Founder, 1998
“I started WIC in 1998 as a small community-based networking group of women consultants to fulfill the need we had to network and share business and information. It’s grown into a dynamic networking organization serving over 400 people. I look back fondly on my consulting days and time spent with the WIC women, and congratulate the women who’ve grown this organization into what it is today.”
“WIC is a major reason I moved to the Bay Area.
It is an incredibly collaborative, supportive and welcoming group.”