Business Matters

Women Business Owners Have a New Ally on the Central Coast

The National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) has opened a new chapter in San Luis Obispo. Central Coast women business owners will now have the opportunity to tap into an organization’s resources and political influence. NAWBO was formed in 1975 by a group of women business owners and is a dues-based organization that boasts of 10.1 million members.

Dawn Goonetilleke – a Keller Williams real estate agent in her day job – initiated the opening of the Central Coast chapter. She was seeking ways to connect and give back to the local community when a friend suggested NAWBO. Mary Cravets, NAWBO’s chair of the president’s assembly steering committee, put her in touch. The two agreed that the Central Coast chapter would be great for the area.

“It was exactly what I felt like I needed,” said Goonetilleke, the current chapter president. “It was another group of likeminded women that spoke the same language, went through the same struggles and could appreciate each other’s lives.”

She iterated the importance of community that she feels NAWBO can bring to the table and how it can not only be a networking source, but also a support group for women business owners.

“We see from the outside the powerful woman standing in front of her business, and then when we struggle,” said Goonetilleke, “we feel like we are the only ones that struggle and we feel like we can’t tell anyone.”

Other members also commented about the need they felt of having a group they could share their victories and setbacks without fear of judgment.

Commenting on how NAWBO had helped her, Jamila Haseeb, NAWBO member and owner of Apexx Consulting, LLC, said that she has reached out to the organization for assist with a unique challenge women often face and a fellow member presented her with solutions and insights that were unavailable from her male mentors.

Addressing the group, Atascadero City Councilwoman Heather Moreno said she was happy to see NAWBO make its way to the area.

“I was a member of NAWBO in 2004 when I lived in Orange County and was disappointed when I came up here and it wasn’t available,” said Moreno, “and now that it is, I am so glad to be a part of this group of women.”

Moreno also stated that she is hoping that NAWBO will be a vehicle for expanding local business beyond the boards of the central coast.

President of the NAWBO chapter in Santa Barbara, Amy Collins said, “I joined NAWBO originally…not understanding the impact it was really going to have on my life, and I can say that it’s the greatest group of women around.”

The group meets the first Friday of every from 11:30 a.m. till 1:15 p.m. The most recent speaker was Maggie Cox, co-founder of Barnett Cox and Associates. Cox spoke of the sudden and inevitable fact of change and how through adversity people have the chance to grow and overcome. She also delivered a message on the importance of tenacity as a business owner and how something as simple as meals being delivered by family make a difference.
“If I could leave you with any message,” Cox said to the group, “in my case, what was the core success for me was support of people around us, believing in ourselves and then being resilient. You just can’t throw in the towel.”

The chapter’s next meeting is on Fri., June 2 from 11:30 am to 1:15 p.m. at the San Luis Obispo Country Club and will consist of a panel of three businesswomen. Participants will be able to ask questions and glean knowledge from them.  The panel will be composed of Mary Verdin, the President and Chief Strategy Officer of Verdin; Jennifer Idler, the Human Resources and Events Manager at Idler’s Home; and Diana Gabriel, co-founder of Change of a Dress Boutique.

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