Ventura Women in Business

By Sheila Lowe, MS, CG

In 1982 women in business were still fighting for recognition. Despite owning 25% of all US businesses, women were required to get their husband’s signature when applying for any type of loan. There were no women’s networking organizations to support them and they were not allowed to join service clubs such as Rotary or Chambers of Commerce. For Ventura women, a change was in the offing.

Seeing the need for convenient networking in Ventura County, a group of businesswomen got together and hosted a dinner at an Oxnard restaurant for more than one-hundred interested women. That was where the seed for VCPWN—Ventura County Professional Women’s Network—was planted. Now, more than thirty years later, VCPWN still meets monthly (except December) for dinner and a speaker. Twice a year they hold a silent auction and an annual tabletop expo. Their mission remains the same: Promote the personal and professional growth of Ventura County women through education, mutual support, and sharing of resources.

Most VCPWN members are women (men are not excluded) who occupy a wide spectrum of business and industry. They meet at the Wedgewood Banquet Center in Ventura on the second Thursday of each month for an informative program and networking. Nonmember guests are welcomed by a greeter at the door and introduced to members.

Speaker topics range from self-help to business to social issues and more. As October is Domestic Violence Awareness month, the October 8th meeting topic is Taking the Punch Out of Domestic Violence. The organization will donate $100 to a charity of the speaker’s choosing.

Local businesswoman Merle DiVita, one of VCPWN’s founding mothers, was honored at a recent meeting with the prestigious Wind Beneath My Wings Award.

Other members include, among many others, attorneys, insurance agents, accountants, and yours truly, a handwriting examiner and mystery writer. Wherever you go in Ventura, if you mention VCPWN, you’re sure to hear these words: “I used to be a member. That’s a wonderful organization!” I have served two terms as VCPWN president.

This November, along with our wonderful pre-holiday silent auction, VCPWN is planning a membership drive and on December 10th a Champagne and Chocolate meet and greet at the office of our “Guy at Large,” Jim Nicoll. For anyone who’s been thinking about joining, there couldn’t be a better time. The normal joining fee will be waived and membership will start January 1st, which gives a free month and member rates for dinner.

We’ve all come a long way since 1982, and we still have a long way to go. Knowing there is a supportive organization to provide support and resources makes the trip a lot more pleasant. Please visit

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