Who We Are
Rochester Women's Network is the premier networking organization for professional women in all stages of their careers in the Greater Rochester Area. RWN members actively support one another to advance their careers, grow their businesses, and develop friendships. Through networking, educational events, and programs, RWN nurtures and strengthens skills in leadership, business, and life management. RWN is committed to the professional and personal growth of its members.
The Rochester Women's Network was founded in 1978 and is the largest network of its kind in the country. Its mission is to be a multifaceted forum where women create connections, build relationships and make their mark. Membership offers members, as well as the community-at-large challenging, stimulating programs, a wealth of valuable benefits, and continuing support, both personally and professionally. Rochester Women's Network members represent over 400 local employers and more than 150 women-owned businesses. RWN is a not-for-profit, non partisan association governed by a member-elected board of directors.
The Birth of RWN
It was not over drinks, but over food that the Rochester Women's Network was born. Mona Miller and I were lamenting at lunch how men had "their" network. This left women to struggle alone with the gender wage gap, sexual harassment, the lack of quality childcare, the absence of women on corporate boards, the need to know about good job opportunities, and the need to find balance in our lives. Women's need to connect was so great that over a hundred determined ladies had recently braved a Rochester snowstorm just to attend a working women's conference.
Mona and I wondered what would happen if we called a meeting together of all interested, local women to discuss forming some loose network to help each other. Emboldened by the turnout for that snowstorm conference, Mona, then Program Coordinator for the Rochester office of Cornell's NYS School of Industrial and Labor Relations, and I agreed to test the idea. We prepared a flyer, asked the women we knew to pass it on to their friends and colleagues, scheduled a lunch at the Top of the Plaza, and invited New York State Labor official Linda Tarr-Whalen as our keynote speaker.
The turnout was overwhelming; we filled every room in the restaurant. Obviously the acoustics were compromised by our multi-room layout, but nothing could diminish the excitement we each felt. The message was loud and clear; local women desperately wanted a network. The Rochester Women's Network was launched in 1978 with the promise that there would be no committee meetings or organizational responsibilities for members to juggle. Ha; were we naïve!
Thirty years later, the group, is alive and well, with paid staff, many dedicated members who have given generously of their time and talents. RWN has set membership records nation-wide, become a valued community institution, been bold enough to revisit its mission, and honest enough to keep working on how best to be an inclusive organization for all working women. Yet, the very issues that caused the group to first form remain; perhaps some day we will be able to celebrate women's true equality in the workplace. Until then, hooray for the RWN!