History

In December of 1975, 12 women met to form an association for women professionals in government relations. They held a common belief – that as women they would benefit from association with each other and from an entity specifically designed to guide them in their professional development.

By the end of that organizational meeting, Women in Government Relations was formally created, officers elected, and a six-member board of directors designated from among the founders. Membership qualifications were outlined, and a charter and by-laws developed. By February of 1976, two standing committees, programs and membership, were operational; and WGR held its first luncheon at the National Press Club.

During the first year of its existence, WGR sponsored 10 lunch events and two all-day seminars featuring topics of special interest to career women in the field of government affairs. Advancing up the corporate ladder, coordinating government affairs and public relations, risk taking in career planning, and the legislative agenda were among the sessions. 

In the summer of 1976, the WGR Board reassessed the organization’s direction for WGR and the group began to mobilize in earnest. Between September and the end of the year, a publicity committee was added, the by-laws were amended, the newsletter expanded, the job bank established, and two successful career development seminars were held. By the time of the annual meeting in January 1977, WGR had 26 dues paying members.

The hard work of our founders came to fruition on February 28, 1977 when Women in Government Relations, Inc. was incorporated under the laws of the District of Columbia as a non-profit educational organization, exempt from federal income tax under section 501(c)6 of the Internal Revenue Code. As stated in the articles of incorporation, the organization was established to foster and encourage the educational and professional development of women in the field of government relations.

Important Milestones

1975
Association formed by Nancy C. Benson, Gerrie Bjornson, Sarah Nation Brite, Kathleen Buck, Susan Fridy, Claudia Fuquay, Lori Gribbin, Belva Jones, Marilee Menard, Judith Pond Kudlow, Bettie S. McCarthy, Shelia B. Macdonald.

1977
Incorporated as 501(c)6

1979
LEADER Foundation formed

1983
Hired management firm and drafted strategic plan

1984
Task forces increased from seven to fifteen

1984
WGR’s partnership with Toastmasters formed

1986
Public Sector membership introduced

1988
Creation of Government Relations Institute (GRI)    
First state affiliate – Maryland Government Relations Association
Open to male members

1989
Achieves self-management/own office

1991
Long range plan developed

1993
Creation of job board

1995
Created Lifetime Achievement award (now the Distinguished Member Award)

1995
Created policies and procedures manual

1996
Co-chair recognition award developed

1998
Investment policy approved

2001
WGR closes office and hires management firm

2005
Public Sector fees reduced drastically

2006
Created Congressional Awards

2008
Corporate sponsorship program developed
New logo and website redesign

2012
Transferred management to Association Management Group (AMG) to address strategic growth needs

2013
New logo introduced

2014
Membership reaches 800
Discounted non-profit rate established
Streamlined and lowered event fees
Website redesign

2015
Membership reaches 1000

2016
Creation of the Leadership Institute
Inaugural class of Judy Schneider Fellows