LAS CRUCES – March is Women’s History Month, when women’s contributions to history and society are recognized. However, women’s history is made every day of the year.
Two Las Cruces businesswomen saw that there was a gap in professional development specifically for women and took matters into their own hands.
The Association was started in early 2020 by Marci Dickerson and Sumer Rose Nolan — of The Game I and II, Dickerson’s Catering and Nolan’s SRN Financial Services. The goal of the group is to provide women with a place to network and gain quality professional development guidance.
Dickerson said that, after the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March 2020, The Association was placed on the back burner. They restarted their mission at the beginning of 2021. The original idea was Nolan’s.
“I own a financial practice that serves mostly female professionals and business owners and through doing educational workshops and stuff with that practice … I saw a gap in what was needed that’s specifically for women,” Nolan said. “We have unique challenges in the workplace, in business, in our home life.”
The two friends sat down one day at The Game, Dickerson said, and quickly mapped out what they wanted in the organization on a cocktail napkin.
“We really felt that it would bring a lot to the table, as far as really focusing on developing women in business. In all types of business, whether they’re entrepreneurs, whether their career women that work for someone else,” Dickerson said.
They currently have about 140 members, according to Nolan.
They try to host four to five events per month which include the Expert Power Hour at The Game II, Fempreneur Breakfast Club at A Bite of Belgium, Monthly Panel Luncheon and Success is Sexy Mixer.
Most events include a guest speaker who talks about a specific aspect of business or development. Topics include how to negotiate better salaries, moving up within a company, how to grow your company, how to approach work-life balance and more. There are also several larger, keynote events held during the early and latter parts of the year.
Dickerson emphasized the benefits of their networking opportunities.
“There are so many women in our community that have definitely reached the top, if you will, and they are such a huge asset,” she said. “We really try to connect those people with some of the up and comers to help share their stories as well as share advice.”
Sylvia Washington, chief operating officer for Tresco Inc., said the camaraderie she found through The Association is one thing that has particularly benefitted her. She has been able to connect with other women who are leaders within their companies and discuss their struggles and successes.
This International Women’s Day, The Association hosted one of its largest events, which featured four Las Cruces-area women who have had great success in their individual ventures and have paved the way for younger generations of women. Barbara Hubbard, Julia Brown, Wanda Bowman and Ammu Devasthali spoke at the inaugural annual event detailing their career paths.
Membership is $75 per month and includes all The Association’s events as well as food and drink and also helps pay guest speakers. College and high school students receive a discounted $25 monthly membership. Women are encouraged to attend a couple of events first to get an idea of how The Association might benefit them.
The group has partnered with Arrowhead Center and Studio G to further reach female students in the area. Brooke Montgomery, who is associated with both departments, said the organization is beneficial for female students who are interested in a path toward entrepreneurship or who want to develop leadership skills. And high school students who are taking dual-credit classes are able to make contact with mentors who could potentially hire them or take them on as an intern.
Nolan said she has noticed many women reach out to fellow members as an information resource or to do business before looking outside of the group. Andrea Dresser, owner of Counseling Las Cruces, said she has connected with many women whose services she can use. She also said being a business owner can be isolating and The Association provides a space for her to connect with others in similar positions.
Dickerson said they are also working on expanding the reach of The Association by collaborating with other metropolitan areas across the country. She said they are currently in talks with people in Dallas, Houston, Tulsa and Lubbock to see about starting similar organizations in those communities.
Their next event is Strong Coffee (or tea) with Strong Women! at 7:30 and 9 on April 1, at The Bean at Josefina’s, at 2261 Calle de Guadalupe in Mesilla. People will be able to learn more about the group and ask questions before deciding on membership. An RSVP can be sent via email to [email protected]
Leah Romero is the trending reporter at the Las Cruces Sun-News and can be reached at 575-418-3442, [email protected] or @rromero_leah on Twitter.
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