AWC-SB – The First Ten Years

The Association for Women in Communications is a national organization that helps women develop and deepen the communication skills they need to succeed in a variety of fields. Our local chapter includes authors, journalists and broadcasters, entrepreneurs, designers and marketers, corporate communicators, coaches and public relations experts. AWC-SB offers professional communicators and businesswomen an opportunity to network with colleagues who understand the challenges of contemporary communication.

Background: In 2006 communications consultant Lois Phillips, Publisher Mindy Bingham, and Producer Deborah Hutchison founded the Santa Barbara chapter of the Association for Women in Communications . They saw a need for a dynamic, local organization that cut across sectors to bring together professional communicators, solopreneurs, scholars and corporate communicators as well as communications majors at local colleges and universities. They affiliated with the Association for Women in Communications, a national organization that has been empowering women for over 100 years. They wanted to provide opportunities for professional communicators to encourage each other, be inspired by successful role models, and learn skills and multi-media strategies through a range of professional development opportunities.

Professional Development: Today AWC-SB is the only AWC chapter in the State of California. Our membership includes women at different stages of their careers and with different backgrounds and skill sets. Regular networking meetings allow women to deepen their professional friendships, often leading to collaborative opportunities.

Monthly meetings feature speakers and panel discussions designed to help communicators stay at the top of their game. A few of the topics from recent meetings include "How to Handle Online Criticism", "Becoming an Influencer", "Building Your Brand", "To Pod or Not to Pod", "From Crisis to Calm with Effective Communication" and "Managing Information Overload".

AWC-SB has also sponsored public screenings of movies like Citizen McCaw and Wonder Women: The Untold Story of American Superheroine as well as receptions for prominent local communicators like Gloria Feldt, author of No Excuses: Nine Ways Women Can Change How We Think about Power. During the summer, we choose books relevant to communicators and discuss them over Books for Breakfast.

Special Events: The annual Women of Achievement Awards honors inspirational local communicators who have made a difference in the Santa Barbara community. Women who have been honored include:

  • 2017 Helene Schneider, Mayor of Santa Barbara & Patty DeDominic, Founder International Women’s Festival
  • 2016 Lois Caps, Congresswoman & Dr. Lois Phillips, Communications Consultant and Founder AWC-SB
  • 2015 Sigrid Wright, Earth Day Festival & Marilyn Tam, author The Happiness Choice
  • 2014 Nancy Leffert, President Antioch University & Marianne Partridge, Editor in Chief, Santa Barbara Independent
  • 2013 Kathleen Sharp, author of Blood Medicine & Marsha Bailey, Founder and CEO of Women Economic Ventures
  • 2012 Perie Longo, Poet & Paula Lopez, television journalist
  • 2011 Linda Weinman, founder of Lynda.com & Starshine Roshell, syndicated columnist
  • 2010 Sarah Miller McCune, publisher Sage Communications & Marcia Meier, author
  • 2009 Catherine Remak, radio host & Ann Louise Bardach, journalist
  • 2008 Producer Deborah Hutchinson and reporters at the Santa Barbara News Press including Jane Hulse, Melinda Burns, Dawn Hobbs, Melissa Evans, Anna Davison,
AWC-SB also hosts an annual holiday party at which we recognize a Member-of-the-Year and support a Nonprofit of the Year. A few of the local organizations which have benefited from our generosity include: Girls, Inc, Friendship Center, Storyteller Children’s Center, Domestic Violence Solutions and Santa Barbara Women’s Fund

The organization has also celebrated local communicators with the Founder’s Award. Recent recipients include Anna Laura Jansma, (communications liaison at UCSB), Kate Carter (founder of Life Chronicles) and Becca Claasen (spokesperson for Citizens Climate Lobby).

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