On May 8, 2007 40 local women gathered for a luncheon at the La Cumbre Country Club in Santa Barbara, California, to initiate the establishment of the Santa Barbara Chapter of The Association for Women in Communications (AWC-SB). Feedback from those attending indicated that there was need for and interest in a local chapter that would champion the “advancement of women across all communications disciplines by recognizing excellence, promoting leadership and positioning its members at the forefront of the evolving communications era.”
At the initiating event, the attending women represented five generations and many different backgrounds. They enjoyed a delightful meal while listening to an inspiring presentation by the guest of honor, Phyllis de Picciotto, the founder and first executive director of the Santa Barbara International Film Festival. Phyllis shared her experiences and the lessons learned during the “start-up” phase about this now internationally successful event.
The Santa Barbara Chapter’s first official program was titled Intellectual Property Rights in the Digital Age with speaker Laurel Phillips. Ms. Phillips first earned a BA in Communication Studies and then became an Intellectual Property Attorney who works with creative communication specialists.
Historically, professions represented by the national association included print and broadcast journalism, television and radio production, film, advertising, public relations, marketing, graphic design, multi-media design, and photography. The AWC-SB Board extended membership opportunities to women in a diversity of communications fields, including scholars, publishers, producers, web marketers, filmmakers and videographers, authors, and professional speakers.
The founding Board members of AWC-SB believed that there were several reasons for women to join. For those who are self-employed or in small businesses, there was agreement that busy working women often feel isolated. To address that sense of isolation, the founding Board members felt a need to create a conversation –between and among women in diverse fields, industries, and communication roles to provide morale support, networking, and role models who are advancing their careers and their companies or organizations through their expertise. From the first moment members met in 2007, they began to exchange ideas or referrals and brainstorm ways to lend technical or morale support.