The NETWORK OF EXECUTIVE WOMEN IN HOSPITALITY, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization founded in 1984 in Los Angeles by a group of women who shared a common bond in their work. Los Angeles had become a leader in the design of interior spaces for hotels, motels, resorts, restaurants, cruise ships and other commercial properties that catered to the traveler, and these women worked in areas relating to hospitality design. Some were designers, some did purchasing of FF&E (furniture, fixtures and equipment) for these properties, while others were involved in manufacturing or distributing furnishings or supplies developed to meet the special needs of these enterprises.

There was a common feeling among many women working in the hospitality field at that time, that although some women had “made it” professionally, women in general were not fully accepted. Dorrit St. John, then President of Purchase Services Limited suggested to Susan Spalding, then with S. Harris, and Shelia Lohmiller of Lohmiller Associates, that they get together and discuss what they could do to change the status quo.

As the three women talked they developed the idea that those who had established careers could lend their support and share their experiences with some of the younger women just entering the field. This idea of women helping women then formed the basis for the establishment of the organization.

In August, 1984 they brought together ten women who met at the Velvet Turtle restaurant in West Los Angeles. The additional women, and their affiliations at the time, included:

  • Frances Farwell, Frances Farwell Sources
  • Karen Hirsch, Republic Furniture
  • Carol Judd, Barry Design
  • Claire Koch, Design Interpretation
  • Judy Rosen, Republic Furniture
  • Vicky Soffe, Keeler Foods
  • Liz Westley, Foodservice Equipment Representative
  • Glenda Wong Yee, Hilton Equipment Corporation

These women formed the nucleus of the organization, and planned the first official meeting of NEWH which was held in November, 1984 at the Cheesecake Factory in Marina del Rey, California, with 44 women in attendance.

The goal of NEWH then, as now, is to promote a high standard of achievement for women in hospitality and related fields. As the organization became better established, the original idea of networking and mentoring grew to include awarding scholarships to young women studying to enter the industry.

In 1987 the Southern Counties Chapter was established to serve women in Orange and San Diego Counties, California. NEWH published a NEWHsletter several times each year, and distributed it to members of the industry throughout the country. Supporters – both men and women – from all over learned about NEWH, and many traveled to Los Angeles in December to attend the annual “Gala.” Many women became “Members at Large.” As interest grew, so did requests from women in several cities to form Chapters so they could attend monthly meetings and receive the other benefits of membership.

Beginning with Southern Counties, NEWH added new Chapters quickly:

  • 1990 Atlanta
  • 1991 Las Vegas, Dallas, Chicago, Greater New York, Rocky Mountain
  • 1992 Houston, Washington DC Metropolitan
  • 1993 New England
  • 1995 Northwest, Arizona
  • 1996 Sunshine Chapter
  • 2000 North Central
  • 2002 United Kingdom
  • 2003 South Florida
  • 2003 Virginia
  • 2004 Toronto
  • 2008 Atlantic City
  • 2010 San Francisco Bay Area
  • 2011 NEWH Canada, Inc.
  • Regional Groups were established 2011 and are now located in Cincinnati, New England (Boston), North Carolina, Orange County (CA), Pittsburgh, and Vancouver

As the organization grew, the membership became more diverse, with many areas of hospitality represented. Each Chapter has developed a character of its own reflecting the industry within their region. With over 4,500 members worldwide, NEWH has developed into a leading organization within the hospitality industry.

With the chartering of the new Chapters, Los Angeles lost its identity as “NEWH”, became the Los Angeles Founding Chapter, and NEWH, Inc. was born as the governing body of the organization. NEWH, Inc. is made up of representatives of all the Chapters as well as an Executive Committee. It seeks to maintain ties between the Chapters, to provide a guiding force, and to serve the Chapters, which are run by volunteers.

More recently, NEWH has expanded its dedication to education by co-sponsoring leading industry trade shows, developing pertinent seminars, opportunities to acquire continuing education units, and the establishment Student Representatives on the Chapter Boards.

The Network of Executive Women in Hospitality, Inc. is a California corporation with it’s headquarters in Shawano, WI.  It is governed by a Board of Directors and run by a staff at the headquarters office..

WOMEN OF INFLUENCE by Michelle Finn