The Story of WOAMTEC
On October 10, 2007, 12 women met at an upscale Italian restaurant in Lake Mary, Florida with the primary goal of bonding to assist one another in achieving personal and professional success. Most of the women knew each other either from a past business alliance or from other networking organizations. But they wanted to provide an opportunity where women can help women succeed while keeping their priorities faith, family and career.
Founder Kathleen Hawkins had just recently adopted three young children, so she knew how challenging it was for mothers to attend morning meetings or evening events; after all, those were times to be spent with the family, right? She knew how important networking and building community alliances were, but she also knew how demanding life already was for a successful working mother and entrepreneur. Having more guilt thrown on her was the last thing she needed!
This all hit home when her friend Jennifer Shoemaker (one of our charter members and our first Director) called her about being late for another networking meeting the two had attended together in the past. Jennifer called in a panic, saying, "Please let them know that I will be late, but I will be there. My son is sick and I have to drop him off at my office so I can attend." You see, the group we belonged to, like many others, had rules that in order to maintain exclusivity, you needed to attend and couldn't be late or miss a meeting. Kathleen's immediate reaction was, 'Something's not right with this picture. We need to be empowering you and bringing you and your son chicken noodle -- not making you take him to work."
And that was the day WOAMTEC began.
Kathleen, being the multi-tasking entrepreneur she is, immediately got on the phone and started the process for launching a women's empowerment organization where women can keep their priorities in order and still find business success. With the help of Laila Britos, who was a charter member, she secured a restaurant and within 24 hours planned for WOAMTEC's first meeting a week later. WOAMTEC'S quirky acronym was actually developed while Kathleen was driving down the Interstate. The restaurant manager called her cell to confirm the details of the venue and asked the name of the group. Women on a Mission easily rolled off Kathleen's tongue, and the To Earn Commission part simply rhymed.
The Heathrow, Florida chapter seemed to grow on sheer adrenaline, and it was hard to contain everyone's excitement. Allison D'Anna saw the outstanding potential and need for growth within the first few weeks and by the end of November, wanted to expand. Because our business categories were filling up, we needed to launch new chapters and we knew Allison was a great addition to our leadership team. Allison launched the second chapter in January of 2008 in Winter Park with more than 50 prospects in attendance. Within two weeks she had more than 20 members and her chapter continued to grow quickly. By the end of January, Toni Curlin and Xiomara Rivas debuted two Central Florida chapters as well, and WOAMTEC was beginning to get noticed!
Within the first year, WOAMTEC reached a membership base of over 300 successful powerful Central Florida women, who find great joy in helping one another and redefine what networking is about. We have a firm philosophy that what you put into the lives of others always comes back to you. We focus on caring about one another and helping each other succeed. By appealing to established and successful women, we strive to bond with women who do not need to be taught but instead have the knowledge to teach each other on a professional, social and interpersonal level.
WOAMTEC's Vision for the Future
WOAMTEC's corporate long-term vision is to expand nationwide, allowing members to market their businesses nationally, to provide educational seminars, trade shows and social opportunities on a regional and national level, and to empower women educationally, personally, and socially. WOAMTEC plans to open several new locations and is excited about the possibilities.
Personally, WOAMTEC Founder Kathleen Hawkins is passionate about the group being a vehicle to make a difference in the lives of women but also the communities in which they live. Having adopted three children from the Central Florida foster care system, she plays a very active role in the Heart Gallery of Metro Orlando and is a founding member of Connecting God's Children Ministries. Her goal is to spread awareness about the world's orphaned children awaiting forever families they can call their own. She encourages chapters to adopt a Charity of Choice and remember, the only deposits you make in life that matter are the ones you put into the lives of others.