Organization provides place for women to network
Ten years ago, a group of professional women came together to give women in Cy-Fair an opportunity to network by forming the Cy-Fair Express Network, a local nonprofit chapter of the American Business Women's Association.
"CYFEN creates a great environment for personal and business growth," said Debbie Berry, one of the original members. "People have a safe place where they can become leaders."
The need for CYFEN was realized when a group of women who attended the ABWA chapter meetings in Greenspoint decided they wanted a place to network closer to home.
"There weren't as many women in business then, so it was a way to bring women together for support and education in the business world," Berry said.
Although the organization is aimed toward women, men—like Frank Sheehy who joined almost two years ago—are also welcome to join and attend meetings and events.
"It's very diverse, and there's a lot of stewardship in this group," he said.
CYFEN has been awarded a Level 1 Best Practices award, which is achieved on a yearly basis based on a list of criteria determined by the national ABWA board.
"It's a big push for us," said Anya Lucas, past president of CYFEN. "It gives you a roadmap so you can follow it and try to reach your goals."
Over the last decade, CYFEN has grown from a handful of women to an organization with 75 members.
"It's a safe environment, and we feel like we can all go to each other for things," president Lynda O'Donnell said. "We also refer each other for business. It's a great opportunity to network."
Members of CYFEN can join one of several committees—ranging from fundraising to scholarship to mentoring—participate in after-hours events or help organize events such as the annual women's expo.
"We wanted to have an event to incorporate local businesses and help catapult their members into the limelight," said Darlene Hajduk, past president of CYFEN.
This year's fifth annual expo is from 11 a.m.–2 p.m. April 25 at Sterling Country Club in Cypress and features numerous area businesses and organizations on display.
"It's a pretty awesome organization," Hajduk said. "I think people are genuinely interested in the success of other peoples' businesses."
CYFEN Women's Expo
The nonprofit hosts an annual exposition each spring to promote local businesses and raise awareness of their organization.
This year's event is April 25:
- Takes place from 11 a.m.–2 p.m.
- There will be 70 vendors
- The first 200 vendors receive a goodie bag
- Boxed lunches and drinks are available for $15
CYFEN, P.O. Box 1473, Cypress, www.cyfen.org