Meet our Founder and How the WPN was Born
"If your actions create a legacy that inspires others to dream more, learn more, and become more, then, you are an excellent leader." Dolly Parton
The Women's Professional Network (WPN) was born in 2015 from Lea Bishop's dream of providing a place that welcomed all women professionals and women business owners.
One of Lea's earliest influences was her grandfather. He believed women were intelligent and capable. He instilled in her that women were savvy enough to develop their own goals and dreams, not have them dictated to them based on their gender.
That premise would later become the cornerstone of the WPN.
With his inspiration, Lea chose a career path that was distinctly hers. After receiving a bachelor's degree in mathematics and a master's degree in industrial engineering (often being the only woman in her college classes), her first job was with a manufacturing company. As the department's only woman, she managed production lines run exclusively by men. There, she had her first experience with workplace harassment. She left and started working as a computer programmer and project manager with IBM.
As she progressed in her career, Lea noticed many of her friends and acquaintances - who while creative and brilliant - lacked the support and courage they needed to bring their ideas to fruition.
So, they languished, unfulfilled. Lea hated to see this.
In response to that, Lea started a Women in Business Empowerment group, hosted workshops for women, and organized fundraisers for local women's nonprofits.
Lea dreamt of creating a group that offered women rich and diverse educational and networking opportunities to develop their professional skills, expand their knowledge, and help them feel connected and supported. Lea envisioned a group where women could feel comfortable sharing their stories and experiences. She wanted to create a stage for the voices of women to be heard in a way where they could feel seen, encouraged, motivated, and empowered.
Lea knew speaking up was hard, especially if you wanted to do something that had never been done before. The naysayers are loud, and she had experienced their negativity firsthand in her male-dominated career choices.
She knew that most women lacked the support they needed to be courageous in the pursuit of their dreams. There's always someone else's need to meet or a responsibility that derails their intentions.
After experienceing some serious health issues, she was reassured by her niece's words that "we got you". Lea wanted every woman to experience that kind of support - personally and professionally. Today, she applies these words to supporting WPN members. With WPN, "There is always someone who gets you and will help you."
WPN has blossomed into a thriving group for women of all backgrounds and goals. It hosts a variety of events including its signature celebration of International Women's Day, Leadership Circles, speed networking, business conferences, panel discussions, special fun themed events, and educational programs with speakers on topics tailored to professional women.
Lea was awarded the 'Local Women Making a Difference' Award, and a 'Volunteer Service to Not-for-Profit Organization' Award from the NYS Assembly, as well as the 'NYS Woman of Distinction' Award from the NYS Senate for her work on behalf of the women of New York State.
As nice as the accolades are, Lea is not driven by the awards but the smaller recognitions that members give her daily of how much WPN has helped them attain their aspirations.
WPN: Engage. Learn. Inspire.
Members inspire and "do good" for themselves, each other, and the community. They learn and engage with each other - because women really need to form deep relationships to build bridges.
Join Lea and dozens of Hudson Valley women who are supporting others and following their dreams.