What was later to become Northwest Houston Business and Professional Women, Inc. started as a gathering of five businesswomen in the 1980’s. They began meeting in each others homes for lunch and networking. As the group expanded, they met at the Holiday Inn on I-45 North. They called themselves “The Business Women of FM 1960” and had a peak membership of about 20 women. Their president was Mauri Mirelli. The Group later disbanded, but the idea continued to live in the mind of one member, Donna Sides. Donna was aware that there was then no organized networking among businesswomen in the FM 1960 area. She began visiting women in their places of business on 1960 and promoting a women’s group that in actuality existed only in her own mind. She described how great the group was and what it could do for any woman who joined. Among the women she contacted were Barbara Lusco, Linda McKay and Terry Traviesco. Barbara and Linda would later become presidents of BPW. Terry would become a Houston Federation of Women “Woman of Excellence” representing BPW.
What Donna Sides was calling “The Association of Business and Professional Women” had its first meeting at Oliver’s Restaurant on FM 1960 West. Those attending that meeting soon discovered that the only real member of the group was Donna! Including those women present were the representatives from the Northwest Houston Chamber of Commerce and Northwest Assistance Ministries. Donna even provided a guest speaker. Several women were motivated to become members at that meeting.
The businesswomen started meeting on a regular basis and in 1984, the group incorporated as the Northwest Houston Business and Professional Women. They met at various locations including Suzanne’s Restaurant, the Greenspoint Club, Raveneaux Country Club and currently at Wyndehaven Terrace. The membership has grown and now averages 100 members each year.
As a non-profit organization and as funds allowed, BPW began contributing to needy women in the community. The primary purpose of this contribution was to provide scholarships in order to improve the women’s earning capabilities and independence.
In 1988, BPW President Donna Sides requested that Montgomery County Women’s Center Director and BPW member Nancy Harrington create and implement a plan for structuring and monitoring the scholarship funding. This format has become the model nationwide for the Sunshine Lady Foundation, a national organization in Durham, NC that funds and distributes scholarships to family violence program recipients.
In the early 1990’s future BPW President Ellen Justus initiated a mentoring group program within BPW. These twice-monthly meetings provide the opportunity for small groups of BPW members to gather for additional support and networking among their peers. This has become a very fruitful resource for BPW members. The purpose of BPW has always been to serve as a forum for women in business, and, the professions to network, role model, and support each other in the pursuance of their careers. The organization continues to thrive and to have an influence in the community as the next generation of women in business benefit from BPW’s history.
1998 BPW President