Women have always worked, whether it was in the home or in the business sector. During the height of WWII, women were not only encouraged to enter the workforce, they were deluged with propaganda to join the workforce because it was their patriotic duty. When the war was over, many women lost their jobs, and were reminded that their first responsibility was to their home and their family.
On September 22, 1949, Shirley Cupp, Irma Beisel, Frances Stuckey and Mr. Hilary Bufton Jr. met in a coffee shop in downtown Kansas City to incorporate the American Business Women’s Association at a time when it was considered socially unacceptable for women to pursue a full-time career, have a girls night out or even join an association.
A statement made by Mr. Bufton in the early 50s summarizes ABWA’s impact on societal norms: “In many ways, the first generation of ABWA members were the breaking tradition…Without even knowing it, I guess they were paving the way for today’s women.”
While women’s opportunities and pay in the business sector have evolved, there is still work to be done. Breaking barriers for women and on behalf of women is nothing new in ABWA. We’ve been doing so since 1949!
The mission of the American Business Women’s Association is to bring together business women of diverse occupations and to provide opportunities for them to help themselves and others grow personally and professionally through leadership, education, networking support and national recognition.
More than 5,000 business/networking meetings are hosted each year in hundreds of cities across the nation. Find a local ABWA community near you. If an opportunity is not available, start a new Chapter in your city. To get contact Angela at firstname.lastname@example.org .
PARTNERSHIPS AND OUTREACH
ABWA partners with other organizations to promote important dates and events that will have a positive impact on women’s lives including:
- The American Cities Business Journal. ACBJ hosts Biz Mentoring Monday Event in 43 different cities in the U.S.. The event attracts more than 10,000 women nationwide each year. As an ABWA, you are eligible for a discounted registration.
- A member of the Small Business Saturday Coalition sponsored by American Express and Women Impacting Public Policy. Small Business Saturday promotes “shopping small.” Small Business Saturday, the first Saturday following the Thanksgiving holiday.
- Starr Women’s Hall of Fame (Kansas City Based) recognizes women from the Kansas City area for their contributions to the community.
- The American Business Women’s Foundation (ABWF) whose purpose is to educate women about issues and opportunities impacting parity in the workplace.
Executive Director, Rene’ Street
One of Rene’ Street’s favorite pieces of advice is “perfect practice makes for perfect performance,” a notion she took to heart very early in her working life and one she seeks to instill in other women who aspire to great things in their lives.
Rene’s career path began as a professional ballet dancer followed by her establishing two successful ballet schools in New York and Ohio, with some of her students advancing to professional ballet companies.
Following her first career, Rene’ returned to school earning her master’s degree in technical education. As an exercise physiologist, she taught college courses and developed strength, endurance and agility programs for both sick and well populations. One conditioning program she designed was for women who wanted to pursue careers in firefighting, a male-dominated industry. The very first woman to be hired by the Cleveland Heights Fire Department participated in Rene’s program.
Rene’ continued her career in health care (cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation, diabetes management, health and wellness) for more than a decade prior to joining the ABWA National Team. Rene’ has held leadership roles on a number of boards including the American Heart Association, American Diabetes Association, Kansas University School of Management Board of Advisors, Global Ties Kansas City and on the committee of women’s organizations supporting the Starr Women’s Hall of Fame .
René’s greatest satisfaction comes with seeing women practicing new skills and developing themselves as professionals and supporting each other to deliver their best performance. As Executive Director, she collaborates with the Association’s leaders to ensure that membership in ABWA will help women know, grow, and show their value in business.
2019-2021 NATIONAL BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Member of the Heart of the Piedmont Chapter
Greensboro, North Carolina
National Vice President
Member of the Airport Charter Chapter
National Secretary – Treasurer
Member of the Harris County Charter Chapter
Vice President – District I
Member of the Lakeland Downtown Chapter
Vice President District II
Member of the Charisma Charter Chapter
Vice President District III
Member of the W. Des Moines Charter Chapter
Des Moines, Iowa
Vice President District IV
Member of the Charlotte Charter Chapter
Charlotte, North Carolina
Vice President District V
Member of the Raintree Chapter
Vice President District VI
Member of the Territorial Charter Chapter
abwa’s 2021 American Business Woman and TOP TEN BUSINESS WOMEN
Congratulations to the Top Ten Business Women, Class of 2022!
As a leading organization for working women, the American Business Women’s Association takes recognition to a national level with the prestigious Top Ten Business Women of ABWA program. The Top Ten is the highest honor awarded annually to members and recognized nationally at ABWA’s National Women’s Leadership Conference. These ten women are applauded for their career accomplishments, community involvement, and their contribution to the American Business Women’s Association.
2022 American Business woman, Who will be selected?
“ABWA changed my life both personally and professionally. It gave me the self-confidence and support that I needed to grow outside of my comfort zone. I will be forever indebted to ABWA for the positive influence that it has had on my life.”
Cindy is a Senior Vice President at Hancock Whitney Bank, where her role as Treasury Management Sales Specialist and Team Lead allows her to consult with businesses of all sizes on optimizing their cash flow and fraud prevention. “Seeing my team achieve their professional goals and mature in their work relationships is a highlight of my day.” When she is not working at Hancock Whitney, Cindy plays an active role in managing her son’s motorsports career.
Cindy has been married to Cliff for 28 years and they have one son, Ronnie, who will graduate from college next year. Cindy and Cliff enjoy traveling and set a personal goal to travel as often as possible, with most trips designed to sneak in a few hours with Ronnie.
Cindy Osmer is a member of the Crescent City Connections Express Network located in Metairie, Louisiana.
FELICIA D. CARTER JOHNSON
Felicia is a lifelong volunteer in the community. She is the wife of Reverend James “JJ” Johnson, mother of 11 children and 17 grandchildren. She is a mentor to women and a role model for many in the community. She volunteers so much that her family says if you look up volunteer in the dictionary, her picture would be there.
Felicia serves her ABWA Chapter in several roles and recently helped to launch The Alabama Leading Ladies Chapter of ABWA located in Madison, Alabama. She has also served on the National Board of Directors culminating as the 2018-2019 National President of the American Business Women’s Association.
She is as avid supporter of her alma mater Tennessee State University and serves on the local alumni chapter board and previously served on the National Alumni Board. And in her spare time, Felicia enjoys reading, traveling with her husband, dancing, and spending time with my family and friends.
Felicia is a member of the Birmingham Charter Chapter located in Birmingham, Alabama.
Nanell was born in Red Bluff, California where she graduated from the University of California at Chico with a Bachelor of Science in Sociology, and a minor in Psychology/Anthology.
She moved to Carson City and worked in a Casino while attending graduate school at University of Nevada Reno where she graduated with a Master’s Degree in Social Welfare. Unable to find a job in her field of study, she went to work as a bank teller. Since then, Nanell has held every position in banking in the Retail Banking Industry including; Supervisor, Branch Manager, Consumer, Business, Mortgage, Commercial Lending, Property Management, Inspections, Collections, Repossessions, Business Development, etc. In 2011, Nanell relocated to Texas where she is currently employed as a personal banker with Prosperity Bank.
Nanell is married, with two grown children, and four grandchildren.
As an active ABWA member, Nanell Mawbey has served in numerous leadership roles with the Outlook Positive Express Network located in Dallas, Texas.
Rhonda Scott-Johnson has worked in the Federal government for almost 40 years serving in various career fields and agencies. Currently, she serves as the Supervisory Corporate Contracting Officer’s Technical Representative (COTR) and Acquisition Branch Chief at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) in Washington, D.C.
Ms. Scott-Johnson is a recognized leader and proven subject matter expert in the areas of budget and financial management, contracts, legislative affairs, and strategic organizational development. Rhonda has received numerous awards and honors over the years, to include the prestigious National Intelligence Exceptional Service Award.
She is also a sales associate with the World Financial Group, Inc. which specializes in insurance and estate planning to help families become financially independent. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration from Cheyney University of Pennsylvania and a Master of Science degree in business administration from Strayer University. Rhonda has earned several professional certifications and
completed the Brookings Executive Education Program, Walt Disney Executive Leadership Institute Program, and the Women’s Emerging Leaders Program at Harvard University.
Rhonda is a dedicated community service advocate and experienced leader, having served in leadership roles for many organizations, to include Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated; the Ivy Foundation of Greater Prince William County, Inc.; Blacks-in-Government, Toastmasters International, and the Federal Employed Women, Inc.
Rhonda Scott-Johnson is a member of the American Business Women’s Association, the Oxon Hill Charter Chapter located in Ft. Washington, Maryland where she has served as Chairman of the Professional Development Committee for over three years and is the recipient of the Chapter’s 2019 Protégé Award (for outstanding service).
Kim Stengel hails from Texas and joined ABWA in 2017. She has enjoyed a 45-year career as a professional actress, singer, international speaker, publisher, trainer and sommelier. She is the owner of DIAD (Do It All Diva!) Enterprises and is the publisher of Kingwood Neighbors. On stage, Kim was the longest running Diva in the history of The Phantom of the Opera, having performed the role of Carlotta over 5,500 times on Broadway and Internationally. She was co-host of “Daytime” morning show in Toronto and can be seen as Bianca Castafiore in Steven Spielberg’s The Adventure of Tintin.
She is a Distinguished Toastmaster and speaking champion loving her mission to help women, to find their voice! For over 25 years, Kim has led workshops and trainings on personal success, growth and leadership as a motivational speaker and trainer. Her first book, “Unleash Your Inner Diva – Owning Your Passion and Power” is in development.
However, as a single Mom, her proudest production to date is her 22 year old daughter Kendra. Kim is also an active ABWA member. She currently serves as the Chair of ABWA’s Houston Area Council, and the President of the Women of Vision Express Network.
Sandra DeLaGarza is a Vice President with the Frost Private Banking Group. She has been employed in the financial industry for more than 3 decades. In her current position at Frost Private Banking, she is responsible for helping clients navigate their sophisticated and diverse financial needs by developing a tailored plan and unique combination of services to protect and grow the wealth of her clients. She is a Private Banker II, General Securities Representative, and holds her Texas General Lines for Life, Accident, Health and HMO, and Property and Casualty Insurances.
In addition to working at Frost, faith, family and community take a priority in Sandra’s life. She has served in several leadership roles and on committees in both ministry and community based or organizations.
Sandra has been an ABWA member since 2008, a chartered member of two respected ABWA networks, the Women Growing Together Express Network and Victoria Professional Express Network where she has served in numerous leadership roles.
Sandra enjoys mentoring women, and encouraging them to utilize their skills and talents.
Holly Hengstebeck is currently the Director of Finance at Detroit Thermal LLC, a critical player in Detroit’s energy infrastructure. Prior to working at Detroit Thermal, she was a Field Finance Manager at Ryder Integrated Logistics.
Holly holds a bachelor’s degree in Finance, and a MBA from Wayne State University, where she is also a mentor through the Wayne State University Mike Ilitch School of Business Corporate Mentorship Program.
Holly is also a Certified Corporate Financial Planning and Analysis Professional, and is currently pursuing a Certified Management Accountant designation. She is also a member of Women in Energy, the Institute of Management Accountants, and Toastmaster’s International.
When she is not wrangling spreadsheets, Holly enjoys attempting athletic pursuits such as yoga, Zumba, and Tang Soo Do. She is happiest when spending time with her big, loud family.
Holly is a proud member of the American Business Women’s Association, Novi Oaks Charter Chapter located in Novi, Michigan where she was recently named, Woman of the Decade, 2010-2020.
Nicole Travis is a Realtor in Northwest Houston where she has built her business through marketing, networking, and past client referrals. She thrives on challenging contracts, identifying solutions, and securing the perfect home for her clients. She completed her bachelor’s degree in business management at University of Phoenix in 2002 while working as a Department Manager for a fine jewelry company. Her experience in management was the stepping-stone to her success as a Realtor.
Nicole loves volunteering in the community whether it is through her church, public school or as an ambassador for her local Chamber. She also serves as the Treasurer with the nonprofit, Shots for Holly, Inc.
Nicole recently celebrated her 30th wedding anniversary with her husband Doug. She enjoys spending time with Doug and her daughter, Addison, whether it is traveling, swimming, or watching Houston Texans football.
Nicole is a long-time member of ABWA having served in many board positions. She is currently a member of Cy-Fair Express Network located in Cypress, Texas and secondary of Houston Area Professional Express Network serving on both boards. She is always willing to lend a hand at any ABWA function.
Dr. April D. Murdaugh
April Murdaugh is the owner and Financial Advisor at Woman to Woman Financial, a Wealth Management Firm located in Jacksonville, Florida. She partners with women , women business owners and their families to help create and grow generational wealth.
April has a decade of experience in the financial services industry, and is known for financially educating, empowering and encouraging women- with no judgement. Her signature workshop, The Five Biggest Mistakes Women Make with Money, outlines the many struggles she’s had managing her finances to help eliminate the stigma and shame many women feel about their situation. April is a Fiduciary. She has a background as a college administrator, and was a full-time professors of Business Finance, and Logistics. She has a Doctor of Education from Nova Southeastern University.
Dr. Murdaugh is a member of the Orange Park Charter Chapter located in Orange Park, Florida.
Kathy Schooley is the owner and stylist at On Point Salon located in Urbandale, Iowa. After two years of college, she changed her artistic focus and received her training in Iowa City. After graduating from cosmetology school, Kathy returned to Des Moines to begin her career.
Kathy’s sincere desire is to help clients present themselves with confidence along with continuing her education to hone her skills. She is known in the community as a stylist with integrity and skill. It’s that sincere desire to provide the safest environment for her clients that led her to open her Salon in August 2020 (in the middle of a pandemic)!
Her ABWA journey began in 2010 when a client invited her to attend an ABWA luncheon meeting as a means of meeting potential clientele. Kathy joined the W. Des Moines Charter Chapter and soon began her leadership journey by serving on the Chapter’s Executive Board. In 2019, she was elected to serve on ABWA’s National Board of Directors as a District Vice President.
Kathy credits her experience in ABWA and learning how to effectively balance strategies as a single mother in the professional world to her success. According to Kathy, these life experiences gave her the determination necessary to thrive during the pandemic.
She has two adult daughters, Elyse and Natalie. Her granddaughter, Zoe, is the light of Kathy’s world.