President’s Message: 29 Years of Recognizing Women – May 2016

To connect, empower and recognize diverse women who share their knowledge and abilities with others; and to support the professional and personal development of women as leaders throughout the northwest PA region.

The Women’s Roundtable’s History: 29 Years of Recognizing Women in Erie, PA

Picture this. A group of women (some of whom may have had ‘big hair’…it WAS the 80’s) sitting around with a couple wine bottles, glasses clinking, dreaming of a space in Erie where women who wanted to start a business could kick off their endeavor.   They dreamed of a brick and mortar location where women entrepreneurs could share office space and get seed money to grow.

The brick and mortar idea worked for a while but maybe it was an idea before its time (think something like Radius Co-Work 35 years ahead of its time). But the dream of supporting and connecting women lived on. So in 1987 this core group birthed The Women’s Roundtable where they could continue to share knowledge, abilities, and empathy all while encouraging professional and personal growth, excellence, motivation, and strength.

In 1997 the dream of a fund to provide grants for women entrepreneurs also became a reality. The Gerry B. Wallerstein fund was begun, and eventually named after the woman who championed the dream.  The first grants were awarded in 2011 after fourteen years of faithful perseverance. Each year since the grant is awarded to the applicant who has the core values of the WRT woven into their personal dream of being a business owner.    

Since its inception The Women’s Roundtable has kept their vision alive, connecting women at monthly networking meetings, empowering them through professional development and recognizing hundreds of extraordinary finalists through the Woman of the Year event. Though the award is only given to one women each year all the finalists are inspiring and exemplary leaders in our community.

This year we give our 29th award on the evening of May 18th at the Bayfront Sheraton. Whether you know the finalists or not you can’t miss this evening. These women are diverse in their methods but united in their dream, to see an Erie that is stronger and more excellent because they have shared their knowledge and abilities with others in such an empowering fashion that our community will never be the same.

I look forward to seeing you there.

Maryanne Thornton

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