A Year to Thrive

A Message from the WRT President

The Women’s Roundtable gave and I am compelled to give.

I met Sue when my business partner and I were looking for a banner, the first sign with our name and logo, “In Progress LLC Your Professional Development Team”.

All I can say is “Wow”. Something happens to entrepreneurs when they see their dream in LARGE FONT.  Cindy & I were instantly taken in by Sue Hawley’s warmth.  And, well, she DID create a big moment for us when she created our banner at her business Signs Now.

But she gave more than that. She invited us to lunch. We shared our stories of how we became business owners and the rocky, crazy road that we had to travel to get to the places we were occupying.  Not glamorous but the three of us agreed there was nothing we could think of that we’d rather be doing.

Most of all and maybe first of all, she invited us to check out The Women’s Roundtable.  “You’ll love us and you’ll fit right in.”  So that’s where this journey started.

As a business owners we agreed that we would evaluate our membership and involvement with professional organizations very carefully.  Did we gain clients or skills & knowledge from the time we invested? Was it worth the yearly fee and the meeting fees? Could we track directly or indirectly benefits from the networking? The fact that we are on our third year on the Board of Directors and fifth year as members indicates the answer is a resounding ‘yes’.

We met and were encouraged by multiple local business women through our involvement with The Women’s Roundtable. We were referred to clients who hired us and events that inspired us and were given the insider’s scoop on affordable educational opportunities.

In June of 2012 we were one of three start-up, woman-owned businesses who received the first awards of the Wallerstein Grant Fund.  We gained exposure in the media and hard-to-come-by dollars to invest in our online presence.

In addition, we were wowed by the Woman of the Year event that honors women who are changing the Erie community; sometimes the women honored are ‘big names’ we’ve heard of in the news or sometimes they are the quiet and diligent women working behind the scenes. Each year it’s not just the winners of the award who inspire us to a higher place, a more courageous outpouring of our God-given talent and energy, it is each of the finalists, as well.

So, starting my year as WRT president is a time to reflect on what I’ve been given by the WRT and how I plan to give back.  My BHAG (big, hairy, audacious goal) for the three year stretch of President-Elect, President and Immediate Past President is that the Wallerstein fund would gain back FIVE times what we were given in 2012; that’s a total of $10,000 our sights are set on for the benefit of those creative, courageous women in Erie dreaming this very day of what they want to see come into reality.  

By the way, I’m rooting for you, whoever you are, and I’m stocking up so you can get those hard-to-come-by dollars that will get you started using your God-given talent and energy to make the Erie community a better place to live, work, and start a business.

The Women’s Roundtable gave and I am compelled to return that gift in the role of President.

I hope you’ll join me as we THRIVE together in 2015-16.


Maryanne Thornton

President, The Women’s Roundtable