The Peoria Chamber of Commerce’s Women 4 Women group, which supports business presence, professional growth and networking, reflected on its journey and outlined its hopes for the future.
“My favorite thing about the group is the cohesiveness and the power these women have and use to make things happen,” said Della Brandenburger, the group’s leader and chair.
Active members meet the first and third Friday of each month to share, encourage, bond and support one another as women in business. Members are admitted for free, while future members pay $15.
“Women find out when they join us that they are now a part of a family who cares about them,” Brandenburger said. “Our group wants to help any woman who is wanting to build a business feel she is important.”
The group prefers to offer a support system that is not “cliquey,” according to Brandenburger.
“We are all equal in every way,” she said. “These are women who want that strong relationship and someone they can talk to if they need help.”
Switching to a virtual networking group due to COVID-19, the women stayed connected through Zoom calls but resumes in-person meetings in April. The next meeting is 8:30 to 10 a.m. Friday, April 16, at Arrowhead Valley Retirement Resort, 20025 N. 81st Avenue, Peoria.
The guest speaker is Dr. Stephanie Mundt of Volante PT and Performance.
“We had many more members who belonged pre-COVID,” Brandenburger said. “We will continue to have women come and be invited to our meetings and learn that when you are a member, you have a strong support system.”
Jamie Lau was among the first set of women who attended meetings and events. Five years later, she remains in Women 4 Women.
“I was there when it first started out,” Lau said. “They came up with this idea to get women together who were members of the chamber, to network and also teach business skills. … They held a mixer at a restaurant, and there were about 40 to 50 women who attended.”
Lau said an encounter with the State Sen. Sine Kerr was her most profound moment with the group.
“She came and spoke with our group,” Lau said. “She invited us to come down to the Capitol as her honored guests and learn more about the policies that are in play. We got to sit in, and she explained everything that was going on to me. It was the fact that she opened up. She was just a fantastic speaker.”
Tina Smith, a four-year member, also enjoys the guest speakers.
“A lot of times they are educational,” Smith said. “It’s a way to get exposure for your business. It’s a great way to learn about other businesses out there,” Smith said. “Bridget Binsbacher was my most influential.”
Binsbacher is a Peoria councilmember and the executive director of the Cactus League. Smith said she was impressed by Binsbacher’s journey.
“She was put into her position with no previous experience or training,” Smith said. “(This teaches women)that when you make up your mind to do something, you can really achieve. This was an example where women could learn to step out of their own way and just go for it.”
Brandenburger said she and Women 4 Women members hope to expand soon.
“These are amazing women who have a story and a heart along with a business spirit. We just want to shout it to the world and have women join us. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of this sensational group?” Brandenburger said.