AWC-SB – Then and Now

The Association for Women in Communications is the premier national organization for empowering women with the strength, support and communication tools they need to elevate their careers and become agents of change in 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 and are genuinely interested in helping other women reach their potential.

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. The organization’s goal is 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 Rock your LinkedIn Profile, Imposter Syndrome, What You Need to Get Started with Podcasting, Customizing Content to Attract the Audience You Want and Speaking with Purpose to Propose, Amuse and Toast. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and health officer orders prohibiting large indoor gatherings, monthly AWC-SB meetings are taking place on Zoom. While our members miss connecting in-person, Zoom has provided an environment for our members to stay connected, learn and support each other.

AWC-SB has also sponsored public screenings of movies like Raise Hell: The Live and Times of Molly Ivins, Miss Representation, 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 AWC-SB Women of Achievement Awards is our signature event. It honors inspirational local communicators who have made a difference in the Santa Barbara community.

AWC-SB also hosts an annual holiday party at which we recognize a Member-of-the-Year. In past years, we have also supported local non-profits. 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 Beth Pitton-August (filmmaker), Teri Jory (community activist), Jen Baron (founder of Girls Rock SB) , Guille Gil-Reynoso (co-founder of the Santa Barbara Latina Leaders Network), 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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