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About IWFC Waterloo Chapter


Welcome to Waterloo Chapter of the International Women’s Forum of Canada (IWFC), an affiliate of IWF. You’re now a member of a distinguished global community of almost 7,000 women leaders around the world in 33 countries on 6 continents in fields spanning government, business, science, technology, philanthropy, sports and the arts. Membership is your passport to life-expanding events and conversations - at home, across the country and around the world. As a Canadian member, you are welcome at events in any of the other seven Chapters across Canada: Atlantic, Montréal, Ottawa, Toronto, Calgary, Edmonton and Waterloo, and to attend international IWF conferences around the world.

IWF’s Beginning:

In 1974, renowned writer, civic leader and philanthropist, Elinor “Elly” Guggenheimer, founded the Women’s Forum of New York with the stated goal to: “Bring together women of diverse accomplishments and provide them with a forum for the exchange of ideas and experiences. By thus becoming aware of their counterparts in all fields, and of mutual interests and attitudes, they can, when desired, speak in concert on issues confronting the total community.”

In 1982, the Forum expanded globally with the addition of the UK. Canada was the third forum to join, after Britain. IWF Canada got it’s beginning in Montréal in 1995 when Patricia Gabel, a member of the Vermont Forum, founded the Montréal Chapter and IWF Canada. From there, other Canadian chapters were created.  Currently there are approximately over 600 Canadian members of IWF.

IWFC Waterloo Chapter in the Beginning: 

In April 2007, Ginny Dybenko, a member of the Toronto Chapter, moved to Waterloo Region and discovered how few women shared the tables of the leaders of local business and industry, a marked difference from the boardrooms of Bay Street. To her delight, she soon found a number of remarkable but isolated women leaders in the region.   Together, this small group contacted IWF Canada to seek approval to establish an IWF chapter in Waterloo Region, as a safe haven for senior women leaders to share their dreams, aspirations and challenges.

The IWF Waterloo chapter was officially launched in 2008 with 25 members and three important objectives in mind:

  • Female role modeling in a male dominated industrial area
  • Promoting entrepreneurship for women
  • Relevancy for more youthful demographic

The Inaugural members of the Waterloo Chapter Executive included: Ginny Dybenko (Chapter Chair), Susan Brown (Secretary/Treasurer), Joan Fisk (Membership Chair) and Mary D’Alton (Program Chair). The first IWF Waterloo Chapter event was none other than a Dine Around, still one of our most popular events!

IWFC Waterloo Chapter Now:

Waterloo Chapter has continued to evolve since its inception in 2008.  We now have over 50 members and we continue to grow.

The 2022-2023 Executive includes:

  • Chapter Chair - Jane Klugman
  • Vice Chair and Governance Chair - Ruth Casselman
  • Past Chair and Communications Chair - Rosa Lupo
  • Membership Chair - Sherry Shannon-Vanstone
  • Finance Chair - Martha Breithaupt
  • Events Chair - Machelle Denison

Waterloo IWF is an active Chapter, with a minimum of two Dine Arounds (one in the Spring and the Fall), regular Wine Arounds, a complimentary Christmas Social, a complimentary AGM / Member Celebration in June plus other events throughout the year. Also, we jointly host an International Women’s Day Lunch in partnership with Wilfrid Laurier University. (Note: During the pandemic, we have moved to virtual events for the time being.)

We are focused on creating interesting opportunities for our members to connect, learn more about businesses and organizations in our community, and to encourage new learning and perspectives.

We consistently manage a balanced budget, which allows us the ability to provide funding upon request to support leadership development for Waterloo Chapter members attending IWF International Conferences in the fall and spring.

Waterloo IWF Chapter is proud to be the first Canadian Chapter to have a ‘closed’ Linked In Group for members to share events and news items that may be of interest, and to enhance communication and updates.

We are delighted that you have accepted the invitation to become a member of IWFC Waterloo Chapter!  For further information about IWF please refer to the Membership Handbook available on the IWF Canada website.

Upcoming Events

See what's coming up in the IWFC Waterloo calendar