A Publication of WTVP

Central Illinois is home to a variety of business networking groups that focus on the needs and interests of professional women. Learn more about these groups and their unique missions, and find out how you can get involved.

Grand View Chapter with JoAnn Wickwire

The mission of the American Business Women’s Association is: “To bring together businesswomen of diverse occupations and provide opportunities for them to help themselves and others grow personally and professionally through leadership, education, networking support and national recognition.”

When was your organization founded?
The national association was founded on September 22, 1949, by Mr. Hilary Bufton, Jr., along with three Kansas City businesswomen. “It was my feeling all women were seeking and deserved equal business opportunities,” stated Mr. Bufton. “They had gained tremendous business knowledge during World War II, through necessity, and I felt a new organization for all businesswomen was needed.”

The Grand View Chapter of ABWA was chartered in September 1991. During its 20 years, we have worked to better ourselves and others through education, networking and leadership opportunities. The chapter gives out local scholarships to young people for college education, and also established the Lucile Cheatham Scholarship Fund at Illinois Central College to help nontraditional students continue their education and better themselves personally and professionally.

What makes it unique or valuable?
Grand View American Business Women’s Association is the only local ABWA chapter that is a member of the Midwest Area ABWA Council (MAAC), a regional group that holds quarterly meetings, along with our chapter meetings and district and national conferences. This gives our members the opportunity to meet other members of the association on a more intimate scale, to allow for networking, problem solving, etc. on a more consistent basis.

As a member of the American Business Women’s Association, you also have the Women’s Instructional Network (WIN) at your fingertips. This offers you unlimited access to the library of the national organization for all published materials, various training modules (Resumes That Get Interviews, and Managing Team Conflict, to name two), and networking opportunities with other members and chapters to see what is working in their careers/chapters and what is not. As a member of the national organization, you are also offered countless discounts by national companies for our members.

Anything else you would like to add?
American Business Women’s Association is a wonderful opportunity to network with people in various stages in their lives. Young professionals can learn from seasoned veterans of the workforce, and retired members can pass on their knowledge and skills while continuing to improve upon them for volunteer and personal endeavors. ABWA offers opportunities for anyone from the entry-level position to the manager at a large corporation, and everyone in between. Come to our chapter for a visit and see what ABWA has to offer!

The Grand View Chapter meets the first Wednesday of each month, except for July, normally at the Lariat Club. For more information, contact JoAnn Wickwire at [email protected] or (309) 696-8440, or Judy McFarland at [email protected] or (309) 369-7816. 


Greater Peoria Local with Norine George

Our mission is to ensure pay equity and equal educational and economic opportunities at all stages of life. In addition, we support pension and Social Security reform and promote affordable, quality dependent care to help ensure economic self-sufficiency for women. We are an all-volunteer, membership-based organization, comprised of working women of all ages, professions and stages of their careers.

When was your organization founded?
The Greater Peoria Local of the IFBW was chartered in the winter of 2010. The parent organization was chartered in December of 1919. A formal convention was not held until 1921, when Miss Ida Patterson was elected president of the new corporation. During that forming stage, three directors—Joanna E. Downes, Anna R. Ranes and Mary A. Gallagher—were selected to control and manage the corporation for its first year in existence.
What makes it unique or valuable?
Our organization is new to the area. We have the opportunity to solicit the voice of the community so we can tailor our programs to the immediate, diverse needs and issues of our local demographic. For example, our recent program, “Break the Silence, Stop Domestic Violence”, featured speakers Carla Payne and MaryAnn Akers-Chamberlain from The Center for Prevention of Abuse. We held this event to help spread awareness—because we care about the women and families suffering from domestic violence.

Our Reality Store® program is a two-hour life skills simulation for middle and high school students ranging from 5th to 9th grade. During the Reality Store, each participant chooses a career that matches his or her interests and abilities. The student receives a monthly paycheck and experiences the financial obligations that adults deal with in everyday life. We believe this program will help students learn basic skills in financial planning, goal setting, decision making and career planning. It gives students a snapshot of what “real life” is like. As a result, they may make different choices for their future.

Anything else you would like to add?
The Illinois Federation of Business Women’s Clubs established our Celia M. Howard Fellowship program in 1948. Its intention was to give financial assistance to train well-qualified, mature Illinois women for study in the field of diplomacy. This fellowship has since expanded to include study in international management, law and administration of justice. Since 1950, more than 150 women have received financial assistance from this fellowship.

As a new local, we aspire to follow in the footsteps of our parent organization and produce only those events and programs that support the empowerment and development of women professionally, personally and politically.

The Greater Peoria Local meets at 6pm on the third Monday of each month at the Advantage Chiropractic and Wellness – Holistic Health Center. Meetings are open to the public. For more information, visit, or contact Lynette Jones, membership chair, at [email protected] or (309) 863-5329.


Central Illinois Chapter with Cindy Fleming

The National Association of Women Business Owners is a nonprofit national organization representing the interests of all women entrepreneurs in all types of businesses. It provides a voice for women business owners and fosters communication, training, technical assistance and learning opportunities through programs, seminars and service. NAWBO increases the visibility of women business owners and encourages their participation in the business community. The Central Illinois Chapter of NAWBO offers monthly meetings with speaker programs, an annual symposium, monthly newsletter, chapter website, networking opportunities and much more.

The NAWBO mission and diversity statements are as follows:

Mission Statement: The National Association of Women Business Owners propels women entrepreneurs into economic, social and political spheres of power worldwide by:

Diversity Statement: In principle and in practice, NAWBO values and seeks a diverse and inclusive membership. NAWBO seeks full participation in the organization by all business owners who support our mission to empower women entrepreneurs, regardless of race, religion, age, sexual orientation, national origin or disability. NAWBO’s goal is to effectively represent the full diversity of the women business owner community and to expand access to leadership opportunities across the full spectrum of our membership.

When was your organization founded?
NAWBO was started in 1975 by a dozen like-minded businesswomen in the DC area. They gathered to share information and create an atmosphere of professional community to further and strengthen their entrepreneurial interests.
What makes your organization unique or valuable?
NAWBO is unique because it consists of women business owners and our corporate partners who come together to share information, knowledge and experience. There is true collaboration among the women and a spirit of camaraderie that is unlike any other group. The true value of NAWBO is in the powerful relationships that are developed. There isn’t another organization for women that understands all of the challenges that women business owners face on a daily basis.

The NAWBO-CIL chapter meets the third Wednesday of every month at Mt. Hawley Country Club. The education program starts at 4:30pm and the regular meeting begins at 5:30pm. For more information, contact Lindsay Brown, vice president of membership, at [email protected] or (309) 692-2225, or Cindy Fleming, president, at [email protected] or (309) 648-4969.


with Amanda Beadles

The objective of Women in Leadership of Central Illinois is to promote leadership among women by providing mentoring, networking and educational opportunities. We are a welcoming group of business women. Members include managers, entrepreneurs and professionals with a sincere commitment to their careers, families, communities, and especially to their personal and professional growth. We are achievement-oriented women, sharing our successes, developing our personal and professional accomplishments, and recognizing and celebrating the women in our area.
When was your organization founded?
On July 1, 2004, Women in Leadership of Central Illinois was established as an independent organization. We chose a name for our organization that truly reflected both who we were and who we wanted to become. We felt that Women in Leadership really said it all. If our objective and goal is to promote leadership among women by providing mentoring, networking and educational opportunities, our name should say that.

What makes your organization unique or valuable?
We meet once a month over the lunch hour. This time works well for the professional women unable to meet before or after work. By regularly attending our monthly luncheons, members build a referral network, share resources, establish support and develop long-lasting relationships.
WIL takes great pride in the caliber of speakers we provide to our membership each month. Our luncheon series touch on a variety of personal, professional and community development areas. Examples of past programs include:

We welcome suggestions and speakers from within our organization as well as outside. Some of the professionals who have spoken at our luncheons include: a professional development coach, reflexologist, YWCA executive director, Bradley University president, legislative panel, Peoria city councilman and more.
Anything else you would like to add?
The Women in Leadership of Central Illinois Scholarship Fund was established to provide support for women in the Tri-County Area who are pursuing higher education in business and management. WIL offers a $1,000 scholarship to nontraditional women who are seeking a degree or professional development.

Women in Leadership recognizes four members annually for their outstanding leadership qualities. These awards include:

Women in Leadership conducts monthly luncheon meetings on the second Thursday of each month at the Country Club of Peoria—except for February (alternate location) and July (no meeting). General questions can be submitted to Shawna Knapp, WIL president, at [email protected]. Membership questions should be submitted to Kathy Miller, vice president of membership, at [email protected]. Persons interested in speaking on topics of personal, professional and community development should contact Tonya Taylor, vice president of programs, at [email protected]. For more information, visit 


The Women’s Fund of Central Illinois, a program of the Community Foundation of Central Illinois, shapes the future through programs that address the needs and goals of women and girls in central Illinois. Its all-female advisory board, comprised of corporate and community leaders, distributes income generated by the organization’s endowment to a wide variety of local women’s programs that need it most—from healthcare to housing, education to job training, and abuse prevention to assistance for single mothers.

The Women’s Fund sponsors First Tuesdays, a monthly networking opportunity for Peoria-area women, held on the first Tuesday of each month. Call (309) 674-8730 or email [email protected] to automatically receive First Tuesdays’ invitations. For more information on the organization and how your gift can contribute to its crucial work, visit iBi