NAWBO was Founded on Advocacy

Feb 24, 2017

NAWBO was Founded on Advocacy

“Finding our voice as women business owners is the foundation of NAWBO on a national level and here in Chicago. Together, that voice is strong and clear. It’s all of us.”

Sue-Nawbo Found on Advocacy

Susan Dawson
President, NAWBO Chicago
Partner in Waltz, Palmer & Dawson LLC


Advocacy is one of NAWBO’s pillars. But what does it mean?

The word reminds me of something that was shared at NAWBO Chicago’s THRIVE Sept. 26, a day where one “wow” speaker after another took the stage. If you didn’t get a chance to attend, the event was fantastic. Closing out the day was keynoter Jan Fields, former CEO, McDonalds USA. She said: “Lift when you climb.”

A look back at NAWBO’s own roots paints a picture of women who did exactly that. Twelve entrepreneurs started NAWBO in 1975. They met in the D.C. area aiming to impact public policy. Their movement led to the successful adoption of the Women’s Business Ownership Act, also known as H.R. 5050, in 1988. Ronald Reagan signed the historic law that eliminated women business owners from having to have a male relative cosigner on a loan. Can you even imagine?

Fast forward to April 5, 2012 when President Obama signed the JOBS Act. Again, NAWBO played a critical role for women’s rights in business. We rallied and were heard. The law opened up opportunities for raising capital through crowdfunding, broadening the scope by which companies could advertise investment opportunities.

It has taken four years for the law to go into full effect with various parts launching at different times. As of May 16, 2016, the last component of it was made official. Check out the most up-to-date details regarding the JOBS Act on NAWBO’s website.


And here we are today, women business owners continuing our efforts to effect positive change as a nonpartisan group on both national and state levels. NAWBO has a fascinating history of advocating for women in business – by people who lifted as they climbed, as Jan pointed out.

At THRIVE, Suzanne Muchin, cofounder of Mind+Matter Studio, talked about the advantages of having what she called a “pointy” personality. Her comments, to me, circle back to our advocacy roots and future. She said: “When you hear something powerful (from someone), it’s what they stand for and what they reject.” She added later: “Searching for your voice is our life’s pursuit.”

Finding our voice as women business owners is the foundation of NAWBO on a national level and here in Chicago. Together, that voice is strong and clear. It’s all of us.

Melinda Gates has said: “A woman with a voice is by definition a strong woman. But the search to find that voice can be remarkably difficult.” That’s a powerful message for NAWBO’s advocacy platform. But just think – if one woman’s voice equals a strong woman, imagine what a group of women’s voices can do. As we continue NAWBO Chicago’s Year of You, we’ll be shaping up our own advocacy platform. Let’s continue to share what matters to us most.

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