Group supports female professionals
Women Inspiring Women has grown to 4,500 members
Thanks to Leslie Sturgeon, thousands of women in New Hampshire are finding a path to a better future, whether it’s starting a new business, re-entering the workforce or simply finding motivation and support to make needed life changes.
Sturgeon realized that there were no groups in central New Hampshire for female professionals and, in 2007, decided to do something about it by founding Women Inspiring Women. It started small, with 400 members. Now, at 4,500 members, it’s the state’s largest organization promoting women’s empowerment, networking and personal and professional development.
Even Sturgeon is amazed at its success.
“Women Inspiring Women is not at all what I planned it to be,” she said. “It’s bigger, better. I thought that once a month, I’d get a bunch of women together in the Lakes Region to talk business.”
Now she offers a wide range of events – business, social, personal development, motivational – at different times of the day, different times of the month, and in different parts of New Hampshire to accommodate women’s busy schedules.
The economy has brought many women to her events, she said. They are worried about getting laid off and feel that the only way they can control their own destiny is to become an entrepreneur.
Sturgeon feels the same way. She grew up in an entrepreneurial family, started her first business at age 22, and has owned a business ever since.
Sturgeon is a two-time recipient of citations from former governor John Lynch and commendations from the New Hampshire Senate for her vision with Women Inspiring Women. She also received the New Hampshire Small Business Administration’s “Women in Business Champion” award in 2009, and was one of six recipients of the “Outstanding Women in Business” award from the New Hampshire Business Review in 2010.
“I’ve been very blessed,” she said, “but it also says a lot about the organizations that recognize me, that they’re committed to women and their personal growth.”