Founded in 1938 by Lucille Johnson Perkins in San Francisco, the organization originally was called Executives’ Secretaries Inc. Its intent was to bring together key women who worked with top executives of first-rate firms in noncompetitive areas of business.
Business leaders in major cities across the country were quick to recognize the value of the group and give it backing.
This was an entirely new concept – a business organization that helped develop the skills and contacts, along with expanding the business horizons of its top female workers all under the umbrella of the firm’s membership in the group.
The organization achieved its “international” status when the first Canadian chapter was chartered in Calgary, Alberta in August 1964.
With women’s roles growing in the management work force, and more and more Representatives holding executive positions, in 1977 the organization became Executive Women International during the 30th Annual Meeting of the corporation (May 1977). This change reflected the international expansion of the organization and was meant to recognize the changing roles of women in business and the diverse careers held by its representatives.
Over 1,000 companies and 1,100 representatives are members of EWI today in chapters located in major cities in the United States and Canada.
To date, thousands of women and men have served as volunteers on boards and committees. The volunteer corporate board that directs EWI ensures quality leadership and guidance. Chapters are also managed by volunteer boards who are elected by representatives of the chapter.
EWI’s corporate office, located in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin, provides administrative support services and membership resources to the entire association.