CWLI began in 1996 with informal gatherings of women who were concerned about the small number of women in true leadership positions in the community, especially the relatively few women holding elective and appointive office in local government. After each contributed seed money, these individuals planned and implemented a conference at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga called “Women Who Run”. The conference was designed to impart basic information on local government structure, the electoral process and what is involved in running a campaign. The conference was well attended and conference evaluations indicated a strong desire for women’s leadership development, including leadership training for minority women.
A push to form an organization also came from women leaders who expressed the desire to interact with each other more productively and to bring forward a new “generation” of women leaders. In 1998, the seven founding members procured the legal and financial requirements necessary to go forward. Since that time, the organization has slowly grown into a formal membership organization with more than 350 members, guided by an active Board of Directors and a Managing Director.
Women Impacting Policy Blog
"One thing that I have struggled with is when you are "in charge," it is very difficult to have friendships with people in the workplace, as at some point it seems you always need to reprimand, counsel or otherwise tick off someone whom you viewed as a "friend." For me, the organization offers the opportunity to meet other women who offer the possibility of friendship or "aquaintanceship" that is not in the realm of the workplace. Love the brain power, enthusiasm, forthrightness, and work ethic of those whom I have encountered in my short term with CWLI."— –Betsy McCright, Chattanooga Housing Authority
"I have always loved being around powerful women because it just makes me feel good. Whenever I come out of a CWLI meeting I always feel empowered myself and proud to be a professional woman!!"— -Christy Viens, LBMC