While Women’s History Month may have passed, everyday is a new opportunity to support and uplift the women in your community. One significant way to do that is to support women-owned businesses and women entrepreneurs. In Whatcom, there’s plenty to go around.
From local firms to contractors and small business owners, there’s a variety of professionals looking for support. This is where Whatcom Women in Business is here to help.
Founded in 1978, Whatcom Women in Business (WWIB) is a local organization that aims to provide opportunities for personal and professional growth for women in business leadership roles in the community. Since its beginnings, WWIB has grown exponentially from a networking group to a collaboration of individuals focused on leadership, education, and philanthropic efforts.
“The organization continues its work to meet the changing needs of women in business, reflect the diversity of our community through our membership, and prioritize conversations to support equity and inclusion, “ says Babette Vickers, public relations chair. “ We strive to honor our four pillars of community, mentorship, professionalism, and leadership throughout the work we do, knowing that together we are stronger.”
Today the organization has about 35 active members, ranging in occupations from business owners to attorneys and instructors. While there are regulations on who can become a member, WWIB is welcoming of many professions and job titles.
Being a member is not just about surrounding yourself with support from other women in business, it’s about paying it forward. WWIB offers annual scholarships to women looking to further their education. In 2022, the organization will be awarding three $2,000 scholarships to women entering higher education, including but not limited to technical or trade school, beauty school, community college, or university.
Whatcom Women in Business also offers charitable donations to local nonprofits, donating $7,500 annually in their “Charity of the Year” program. In 2021, WWIB raised $5,000 for Blue Skies for Children.
“As a group, Whatcom Women in Business gives back to the community and inspires others to do the same,” Vickers says. “The kindness, knowledge, and bravery of WWIB’s membership fills me with optimism for the future of growing strong female leaders and nurturing a community who takes care of each other.”
Being a member can have recognition perks as well, with two award opportunities. The Professional Women of the Year Award is given annually to honor the contributions of local women in business. The public is encouraged to submit nominations for those playing important roles in business success. Last year’s winners include Executive Director of the Ferndale Chamber of Commerce Anya Milton, Founder of Gabriel’s Art Kids Gabriel Miles, and Founder of Bellingham Makerspace Mary Elliott.
Longtime business owners can also win the Community Legacy Award, a recognition given periodically to members of the community who have made a “lifetime of exceptional contributions and a lasting impact on our community through decades of dedication.” The 2021 winner was Julia Bozzo, owner and founder of Northwest Therapeutic Riding Center.
Whatcom Women in Business is constantly looking for support in the form of award sponsors, raffle prizes, and monetary donations. For businesses or professionals looking to get involved with the organization, you can reach out via website, email, or Facebook message.
“Fresh thinking is needed now more than ever. If you are looking to grow professionally and want to help people, we need you,” Vickers says. “Together we will build a solid foundation to help create positive change for the lives of many.”