In the early 1980’s there were very few business networking opportunities focused specifically on women in business. The WRN founders, Ann Fray Shiffer and Diane Hanson, recognized a need.
In the mid 1980’s Ann had attended the Main Line Women’s Network in Bala Cynwyd, started and run by Cathy Lynn Roman. She felt Chester County should have something similar, and started thinking about how to make it happen. When Ann and Diane happened to meet at a network BPW meeting, they discovered that they both had the same thought–that there was no woman’s networking group in the Chester County area, and they both wanted to start one.
Tired of the “Old Boys Clubs” that they had attended, Ann and Diane wanted something especially for women. They put their heads together and came up with the Women’s Referral Network (WRN). In 1987, they sent out mailings and spread the word in an article in the Daily Local News. They desperately hoped for 25 women to come to the first meeting, and 53 showed up! More women tried to attend, but couldn’t find a parking space. After that, the WRN grew steadily…the founders never dreaming of what it would become.
Diane and Ann served as co-presidents for the first year, and then Diane was elected president. They are both very proud of how the WRN of Chester County has grown to its present status. The organization has done so much for women in the area, and continues to contribute charitably to the community as well.