Our History

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.