Illinois Federation of Business Women’s Clubs, Inc. advocates professional and personal growth, leadership development and participation, equity, and economic self-sufficiency for working women through education, legislation, and networking.
Two hundred and twelve women gathered in St. Louis, Missouri in July 1919 to organize the National Federation of Business and Professional Women’s Clubs. The organization promoted and continues to promote equity for all women in the workplace through advocacy, education, and information. The organization later filed to “do business as” (dba) Business Professional Women/USA.
The Illinois Federation was chartered in December of 1919 with a mission of “Women Helping Women.” The federation grew from that early start and continues to be a very powerful organization. Our organization exists to help women with professional and personal growth. BPW/USA became the first organization created to focus on the issues of working women. BPW worked throughout the 1930s to prohibit legislation and directives denying jobs to married women and lobbied successfully to legislatively end the legal practice of workplace preference for unmarried persons and, in the case of married persons, preference for males. BPW/USA was one of the first women’s organizations to endorse the Equal Rights Amendment in 1937. In 1947, the first statewide leadership conference was held. Since that time conferences are held each year to train and instruct members in the responsibility of their positions within the organization. In 1948 The Celia M. Howard Fellowship was formed. This fellowship trains women for policy-making positions in government and diplomacy.
The BPW Foundation incorporated in 1956, was the first foundation dedicated to providing resources to and about working women It included research, information, career development programs, workshops, and other training opportunities. Effective July 1, 2009, BPW/USA merged with BPW Foundation. Ths merger represents over 143 years of combined experience and continues to offer advocacy, support, and education for working women.
In 2011 The Illinois Federation voted to terminate the current lease agreement with BPW/Foundation to utilize BPW programs and logo. They also changed the corporate name to Illinois Federation of Business Women’s Clubs Inc. Centralia LO officially became the Centralia LO of the Illinois Federation of Business Women’s Clubs, Inc., DBA Centralia BPW. Upon joining BPW you are entitled to member benefits which include: networking, education, legislative visibility, and support. You will be provided the tools you need to grow both professionally and personally.