2010: Jennifer Browning Holmes founds Integrating Woman Leaders, Inc. in 2010 out of a passion for mentoring and supporting women. Early on in her career in the healthcare industry, she found herself the only woman in a room of 79 men. It was clear to her that as she moved up the ranks in her career, the less and less development she received. When Jennifer’s job was eliminated in 2010 she had already begun planning for IWL. She took a huge leap of faith and went to work starting her own business dedicated to the advancement of women. She and her team pulled off the inaugural IWL Women’s Leadership Conference in just 4 months, And IWL was born.
Initially, IWL was formed as a management consulting firm focused on implementing valuable women’s initiatives that are aligned to a company’s succession planning process. So often development initiatives are well intentioned yet they fail to address the real issues that women face in their corporate roles. IWL was determined to align diversity and inclusion efforts to improve the bottom line of a company’s performance.
What originally started off as a marketing effort for IWL’s other services, the Women’s Leadership Conference (the first of its kind in the State of Indiana) took on a life of it’s own. Large local sponsors saw a huge value and the need for the conference as an extension of their internal offerings, individual women walked away with life-changing stories and the IWL advisory board grew to involve over 20 top-notch local leaders, all of whom grew dedicated to the IWL mission.
2010 - 2014: With this foundation of support, over the next five years, we saw IWL’s success through the growth of the conference, the sophistication of its brand and the quality of its programs.
2014: By this time, the conference model was profitable and achieved its first sell out at 550 attendees. IWL’s reputation was becoming that of a well-respected and reliable resource for individual women and corporate leaders in their diversity efforts.
January 2015: IWL split into two separate entities. The management consulting side still existed to support organizations in their women’s initiatives, succession planning, recruitment and retention efforts. The conference and programs became a part of the newly formed, Integrating Women Leaders Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.
Why the split? IWL’s mission is educational in nature and by becoming a nonprofit organization it could carry out that mission much more broadly. We had the opportunity of greater financial support from our sponsors and it opened the doors for us to expand the organization beyond Indiana.
May 2015: IWL Foundation hosted the inaugural Women’s Leadership Conference in Louisville, Kentucky with 250 people in attendance. 2015 was a building year for IWL Foundation. It was the best financial year in IWL history. It was also the first full year of the quarterly IWL Foundation Networking events series.
The IWL advisory board transitioned to act as the IWL Foundation Board of Directors, shifting their focus from conference planning details to big picture organizational planning. With this structure in place, the Board created a
vision and strategy for IWL Foundation to continue to grow, and the seed that Jennifer planted has continued to impact thousands of women in Indiana and Kentucky since.
2018: This year has been pivotal for IWL Foundation, with the creation of a new mission and vision, the addition of several new, passionate board members, and an investment in new staff members on the IWL team. Since its founding in 2014, IWL has evolved from being focused primarily on the individual woman to recognizing that the most impact will be made at the organizational level.
A year ago, no one could have predicted what would unfold and be uncovered on the national and global stage in regard to women in the workplace. We know that now, more than ever, is the time to move the needle for women, and we are working to meet the needs of our communities as a resource for organizations and individuals who want to accelerate the advancement of women.