"We are calling together women distinguished by their achievements in business, the arts, the professions, government and academia..." read the letter mailed the summer of 1979 to 113 exceptional Chicago women.
It was both an announcement and a personal invitation to join other influential career women in establishing an organization, a network made up of movers and shakers with the sole purpose of doing some collective moving and shaking.
It began over dinner. A group who dubbed themselves the "Good Old Girls" met socially several times. Why not expand? Why not meet regularly with other influential Chicago women?
The group hired a professional researcher to help find the leading women in metropolitan Chicago. They pared their list from 1,000 to 113 invitees. They established a Founding Board. They wrote and mailed the invitations.
Ninety-seven women accepted the invitation to meet for the first time on the 67th floor of the then-Sears Tower at the Metropolitan Club. The Chicago Network was off and running. During the early years, members forged friendships, supported each other in professional and community work, gathered at dinner meetings and made the phone companies happy as they networked, networked, networked.
Today there are more than 400 Chicago Network members. Has size changed us? Not much. We are still a diverse group; we're corporate executives, mathematicians, television producers, educators, doctors, lawyers, sculptors and painters, clergy, art conservators, scientists, musicians, architects and chefs. We head advertising agencies, nonprofits, auction houses, messenger services, scrap recyclers, museums, public relations companies, large public and private companies and our own businesses. We are still apolitical. We still have only one absolute rule: you must return a fellow member's phone call or email within 24 hours.