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When Mary Stramel first joined the Capital City Business and Professional Women, the opportunity to network and promote her business -- General Mailing and Shipping Systems -- to fellow members was very important.

She soon discovered there were other benefits to the organization as well.

"What I quickly learned was that a lot of successful women and men out there are going through some of the same things I was going through, and I quickly learned to talk with other successful women and learn through their experiences," Stramel said.

CCBPW CCBPW Charles County Business and Professional Women (White Plains, Maryland)  is 99 percent women.

Stramel also enjoyed being on the organization's board of directors, where she started as secretary and eventually became president. She stepped down this month after two years in the post.

"I also learned about pay equity," Stramel said. "I didn't know it was still an issue."

Pay equity means women being paid the same wage or salary as men. One of CCBPW's issues is that this is not always the case -- women on average still make less than men doing the same job.

Stramel and several other women in the organization, which has about

60 members, discussed their experiences in CCBPW in interviews last week. Capital City Business and Professional Women is celebrating its

85th anniversary this year.

Its parent organization is the National Federation of Business and Professional Women's Clubs women's clubs, groups that offer social, recreational, and cultural activities for adult females. Particularly strong in the United States, they became an important part of American town and village life in the latter part of the 19th cent. , which was founded July 15, 1919. It is commonly known as BPW/USA.

In addition to Stramel, Santa Fe Santa Fe, city, Argentina
Santa Fe, city (1991 pop. 341,000), capital of Santa Fe prov., NE Argentina, a river port near the Paraná, with which it is connected by canal.
 women interviewed included Elaine Prince, Laura Banish ban·ish  
tr.v. ban·ished, ban·ish·ing, ban·ish·es
1. To force to leave a country or place by official decree; exile.

2. To drive away; expel: We banished all our doubts and fears.
, Vicki Pozzebon, Pat Murray and Kathy Jahner.

Prince, a retired attorney who has been a member of CCBPW since 1966, said the pay-equity issue was important to her as a young woman and still is.

"I don't think Santa Fe is any worse or better than anyplace an·y·place  
To, in, or at any place; anywhere. See Usage Note at everyplace.

Adv. 1. anyplace - at or in or to any place; "you can find this food anywhere"; (`anyplace' is used informally for `anywhere')
 else when it comes to that," she said.

Prince "really enjoyed the fellowship" of women in CCBPW at the organization's meetings. "I got a chance to visit with a lot of people in Santa Fe. The few that remain are still my friends."

Jahner, director of finance and operations at Rio Grande Rio Grande, city, Brazil
Rio Grande (rē` grän`dĭ), city (1991 pop.
 School, has been a BPW BPW Business and Professional Women
BPW Board of Public Works
BPW Base Pulse Width
BPW Black Panther Wing (Star Wars gaming group)
BPW Best Photographer of the World
BPW Borland Pascal for Windows
 member since 1984, when she joined a chapter of the organization in her native North Dakota North Dakota, state in the N central United States. It is bordered by Minnesota, across the Red River of the North (E), South Dakota (S), Montana (W), and the Canadian provinces of Saskatchewan and Manitoba (N). .

The main benefit for her, she said, was "was the opportunity to practice my leadership skills. I met so many strong leaders who were women. Seeing how they acted and controlled things was the fastest education I could have ever gotten."

Jahner has also been a member of the national organization, holding "a number of offices," she said.

Soon after she joined, Jahner won a BPW Young Careerist ca·reer·ism  
Pursuit of professional advancement as one's chief or sole aim: "Rampant careerism, which makes many a work place a joyless site, was in check" Mary McGrory.
 competition, which involves, among other things, competing with other young women in delivering a speech, and went on to compete on the state level.

Subsequent to that, "I have taught speaking skills to a number of candidates. I think it's an extremely important opportunity a lot of younger women don't get. I feel connecting with influential women both at the local and state level is important."

Banish, the public-information officer for the city of Santa Fe, was in the Young Careerist competition last year, starting at the local level in Santa Fe.

"I had to write my own speech from pre-selected topics," Banish said. "Mine was 'Is the United States United States, officially United States of America, republic (2005 est. pop. 295,734,000), 3,539,227 sq mi (9,166,598 sq km), North America. The United States is the world's third largest country in population and the fourth largest country in area.  ready for a female president'? At the time, Hillary Clinton was running for president."

Banish was competing with Lacie Mackey of the Santa Fe Chamber of Commerce, Victoria Bruneni of Holiday Inn in Santa Fe, and Angelica angelica (ănjĕl`ĭkə), any species of the genus Angelica, plants of the family Umbelliferae (parsley family), native to the Northern Hemisphere and New Zealand, valued for their potency as a medicament and protection against  Ruiz, president of the Santa Fe Public Schools' Board of Education.

Banish won and went to Raton to compete on the state level, where she won again.

"It was a good and humbling experience," Banish said. "I was not as prepared as I should have been. But it ended up being beautiful."

Banish didn't win in Atlanta, but those who were there for her speech told her she gave one of the best speeches, Banish said. "It was good for me to be inspired by what women were doing. To me, it was an empowering experience to be around so many women doing amazing a·maze  
v. a·mazed, a·maz·ing, a·maz·es
1. To affect with great wonder; astonish. See Synonyms at surprise.

2. Obsolete To bewilder; perplex.

 work I could learn from."

Banish expects to keep attending

CCBPW's monthly meetings and taking part in activities. "They're a tremendous group for support and resources," she said. "And I was surprised to find out they've been around (on the national level) since 1919."

This year's Young Careerist winner was Bruneni.

Pozzebon, executive director of the Santa Fe Alliance, ran the Young Careerist program for three years after competing in it herself and is now the CCBPW's vice president of programs.

Pozzebon joined the group when she was running the Santa Fe Southern Railway.

"When I first joined CCBPW it was about networking and promoting the business, but I found it was also to find some great mentors and connect with people. It helped me in my career," she said.

Pat Murray, a senior vice president with First Community Bank, has been active in CCBPW for about 15 years. She joined the group after having been selected as its Woman of the Year.

"I didn't know a lot about the organization, but when I did, I liked the mission of the organization, which is equity in the work place and equity in pay for women."

When asked if wages are more equitable now, Murray said, "They have improved. When I first joined, women earned about 70 cents for every dollar men did; now it's

75 cents on the dollar. There's still a lot of work to be done."

That includes passage of the Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. "It needs to be ratified rat·i·fy  
tr.v. rat·i·fied, rat·i·fy·ing, rat·i·fies
To approve and give formal sanction to; confirm. See Synonyms at approve.
," she said.

Murray also likes the fact members of the national BPW annually visit Capitol Capitol, seat of the U.S. Congress
Capitol, seat of the U.S. government at Washington, D.C. It is the city's dominating monument, built on an elevated site that was chosen by George Washington in consultation with Major Pierre L'Enfant.
 Hill in Washington, D.C., to promote women's rights The effort to secure equal rights for women and to remove gender discrimination from laws, institutions, and behavioral patterns.

The women's rights movement began in the nineteenth century with the demand by some women reformers for the right to vote, known as suffrage, and
, and that this lobbying also goes on on the local level.

Other CCBPW awards are for employers of the year, scholarships, and Woman of the Year.

More information is available at

Contact Bob Quick at 986-3011 or
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:The Santa Fe New Mexican (Santa Fe, NM)
Date:May 5, 2009

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