Twenty-first century networking often means social media and e-mails; however, there is a group of capital area women changing this with a women’s network based on developing relationships through face-to-face communication and shared interests.
“There’s a need for a competitive professional women’s group, mainly in Mid-Michigan,” said Daphne Reznik, a founding board member of the new women’s group ATHENA Women’s Interest Network (WIN). “We want the group to be multi-generational and diverse.”
After speaking with the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce, the five founding board members were told that partnering with ATHENA International, an organization that acknowledges and honors female leaders in the community, could be beneficial for both groups. The result, ATHENA WIN, is launching this month with the help of some collaboration with the organization’s local chapter.
“We are independent from ATHENA, but we’ve sort of collaborated with ATHENA to be their feeder group,” said Reznik.
The launch party for this new women’s group will be taking place on Thursday, January 28. Women in every walk of life are invited to the launch party without any requirement of membership, but the founders are strongly encouraging women to join.
“We would love to launch with 200 members … if we could launch with 500, we would be thrilled,” said Reznik. “I am cautiously optimistic because we’ve gotten such incredible feedback.”
The event will be held at the Country Club of Lansing and will feature Martha Mertz, the founder of ATHENA International.
“It’s all about the connections,” said Debbie VanHevele, one of the cofounders. She noted that there has been buzz about the new group already.
“We’re all very excited,” said VanHevele.
Reznik, VanHevele and the other founding board members of ATHENA WIN (June Haas, Sarah Jennings and Jan Szur) view the development of this new women’s group as an opportunity not only to network at meetings, but also to connect with other women through shared interests. They have already determined there will be four signature events, which will occur quarterly. The details on these events will be presented at the launch party.
Aside from the signature events, they plan to have luncheons and get-togethers to learn from each other and have some fun. Members will help shape the organization through participation in groups such as the programs committee, marketing committee and a girls’ night out committee, among others.
“‘Girls’ night out’ sounds fluffy and fun, but you can get a lot of work done, for example, on a golf course,” said Reznik.
They also ventured to talk of wine tasting events, spa days and pedicures.
Cost for membership is based on one’s level of involvement, age and need. Annual dues start at $25 for students, up to $250 for founding members. ATHENA WIN is also offering a business package that is only available during their launch period. The package costs $500 and covers the membership for up to 20 women. Other membership packages are offered as well, such as $125 for general membership and $75 for the nonprofit, government and education sectors.
“It’s about mentoring and fostering relationships — we want to keep talent here,” said Renzik. “Members can see who to pass the baton to … with this economy, a lot of people are switching careers.”
Reznik went on to say that the group will be “very member driven.”
“We are going to let our members submit proposals,” said Reznik. “That’s where we’re different.”
If there are women interested in charity work, they will focus on charity work; if there are women interested in fitness, they will partake in fitness activities.
“We’re focusing on women in the area,” said VanHevele. “When their needs change, we’ll change.”