About IWFC Waterloo Chapter


Welcome to Waterloo Chapter of the International Women’s Forum of Canada (IWFC), an affiliate of IWF. You’re now a member of a distinguished global community of almost 7,000 women leaders around the world in fields spanning government, business, science, technology, philanthropy, sports and the arts. Membership is your passport to life-expanding events and conversations - at home, across the country and around the world. As a Canadian member, you are welcome at events in any of the other six Chapters across Canada: the Maritimes, Montréal, Ottawa, Toronto, Calgary and Edmonton, and to attend international IWF conferences around the world.

IWF’s Beginning:

In 1974, renowned writer, civic leader and philanthropist, Elinor “Elly” Guggenheimer, founded the Women’s Forum of New York with the stated goal to: “Bring together women of diverse accomplishments and provide them with a forum for the exchange of ideas and experiences. By thus becoming aware of their counterparts in all fields, and of mutual interests and attitudes, they can, when desired, speak in concert on issues confronting the total community.”

In 1982, the Forum expanded globally with the addition of the UK. Canada was the third forum to join, after Britain. IWF Canada got it’s beginning in Montréal in 1995 when Patricia Gabel, a member of the Vermont Forum, founded the Montréal Chapter and IWF Canada. From there, other Canadian chapters were created.  Currently there are approximately 600 Canadian members of IWF.

IWF Waterloo Chapter in the Beginning:

In April 2007, Ginny Dybenko, a member of the Toronto Chapter, moved to Waterloo Region and discovered how few women shared the tables of the leaders of local business and industry, a marked difference from the boardrooms of Bay Street. To her delight, she soon found a number of remarkable but isolated women leaders in the region.   Together, this small group contacted IWF Canada to seek approval to establish an IWF chapter in Waterloo Region, as a safe haven for senior women leaders to share their dreams, aspirations and challenges.

The IWF Waterloo chapter was officially launched in 2008 with 25 members and three important objectives in mind:

  • Female role modeling in a male dominated industrial area
  • Promoting entrepreneurship for women
  • Relevancy for more youthful demographic

The Inaugural members of the Waterloo Chapter Executive included: Ginny Dybenko (Chapter Chair), Susan Brown (Secretary/Treasurer), Joan Fisk (Membership Chair) and Mary D’Alton (Program Chair). The first IWF Waterloo Chapter event was none other than a Dine Around, still one of our most popular events!

IWF Waterloo Chapter Now:

Waterloo Chapter has continue to evolve since its inception almost 12 years ago.  We now have over 40 members and we continue to grow.

The 2019-2020 Executive includes:

  • Janet Peddigrew - Chapter Chair
  • Linda Fabi - Past Chair and Communications Chair
  • Rosa Lupo - Vice Chair and Governance Chair
  • Stacey Rous - Finance Chair
  • Jane Klugman - Events Chair
  • Sarah Shortreed - Membership Chair

Waterloo IWF is an active Chapter, with a minimum of one fall Dine Around, a complimentary Christmas Social, a Spring Dine Around, a complimentary AGM / Member Celebration in June plus other events throughout the year.

For the second consecutive year, IWF Waterloo jointly hosted the International Women’s Day Lunch at the Crown Plaza Kitchener with Wilfrid Laurier University.  This past year’s event was focused on STEAM, and we were proud to have 3 of our own IWF members participate. 

In May, 2019, we launched our IWF Waterloo Wine Around at Martini’s in Kitchener.  The purpose is to organize a casual drop-in event for drinks and appetizers in our Tri-Cities area so that our members have another way to connect and network.  Our plan is to continue this through the fall and winter each year.

We are focused on creating interesting opportunities for our members to connect, learn more about businesses and organizations in our community, and to encourage new learning and perspectives.

We consistently manage a balanced budget, which allows us the ability to provide funding upon request to support leadership development for Waterloo Chapter members attending IWF International Conferences in the fall and spring.

Waterloo IWF Chapter is proud to be the first Canadian Chapter to have a ‘closed’ Linked In Group for members to share events and news items that may be of interest, and to enhance communication and updates.

We are delighted that you have accepted the invitation to become a member of IWFC Waterloo Chapter!  For further information about IWF please refer to the Membership Handbook available on the IWF Canada website.

Upcoming Events

See what's coming up in the IWFC Waterloo calendar