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Central California Life Magazine

Fresno Women's Network, Supporting Business, Personal, and Professional Growth

Aug 10, 2016 11:13AM ● By Melanie Heisinger
By Connie Smith, President

The Fresno Women’s Network was founded in 1987 as a way for women to support each other in business, personal, and professional growth. Members are encouraged to build relationships, mentor one another, and give back to the community.
We focus our membership to 3 areas:  

1)  Building personal and business relationships through our luncheon meetings as well as our evening Small Business Owners dinners.  Our members have an opportunity to sponsor a luncheon and/or mixer as a part of their membership to speak and display their business materials.  This provides a very inexpensive way to advertise their business as well as build friendships which promote business with other members.  Each luncheon we always provide networking time to assist you in meeting other members and learning about their business.  When members become involved and meet others their personal and business relationships soar. 

2)  When getting to know other members and their businesses it always helps you as a member to always have a referral when asked "who do you know that does this..."  Members want the ability to give and obtain a referral from a trusted friend prior to doing business.  

3)  The Fresno Women's Network has awarded over 100 scholarships to deserving students from the Central Valley for over 20 years. Applications are considered on the basis of demonstrated scholastic merit, community involvement, future goals and career objectives.

2016 Board of Directors:

  • Connie Smith, President
  • Suzanne Moles, Treasurer
  • Kitty McManus, Secretary
  • Karen Bowser, Director
  • Theodora Michailides, Director
Our Inaugural Women in Review Gala "Community Treasures" is October 7, 2016.  We are honoring three outstanding women who are an inspiration to the young women in our community who are seeking a higher level of education.  

We are pleased to announce our Honorees:

  • Fresno Fire Chief, Kerri Donis, Public Service
  • Sally Marie Caglia, Business Owner
  • Liz Gonzales Garvin, Previous Scholarship Recipient of Fresno Women's Network.
We will have Kopi Sotiropulos as our MC for the evening.  We will have a live auction with Albert Figueroa as our auctioneer, and we will be having a Dessert Auction with the proceeds from the live auction and the dessert auction going to scholarships.
The proceeds from this elegant event will be used to increase our scholarship funds and enable us to assist more recipients with larger amounts to help deserving students meet their educational goals.  Scholarship recipients are chosen from the Central Valley accredited college or university institutions in the Central Valley.  
Our goal is to raise $25,000 to $30,000 to give away at our June 2017 luncheon for scholarships in the Central Valley.

Ways you can help:

  • Have your company sponsor the event
  • Attend the event
  • Make a donation on behalf of Fresno Women's Network Scholarship Fund through our account at Central Valley Community Foundation.

The Honorees: 

Kerri Donis

Kerri is the first woman to hold the position as Fire Chief in the Fresno Fire Department’s 137 year history. Kerri graduated from Fresno State and competed at the Women’s Softball College World Series where the Lady Bulldogs finished as the national runner-up three of four years that Kerri played. Much of her teamwork skills learned such as athleticism, teamwork and discipline are transferable to her career in firefighting. 

After college, Kerri began her career as a fitness trainer, but in 1996 she decided to attend the firefighter academy. Kerri became an entry-level firefighter and worked her way up through the ranks. 

In 2004, she was promoted to deputy chief and in 2013 was appointed as interim fire chief. Finally, in 2014 was appointed as Fire Chief for the Fresno Fire Department. The percentage of female firefighters is not a double digit number according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics with a female Fire Chief being even more uncommon!

Sally Marie Caglia

Sally, a native of Fresno, is the Executive Administrator of the Caglia Family owned businesses successfully serving Fresno for 103 years. The businesses owned by the Caglia Family are Electric Motor Shop and Supply Co, C.A.R.T.S. Cedar Avenue Recycling & Transfer Station, Industrial Waste & Salvage (IWS), Caglia Demolition & Recycling, and the RedRock Environmental Group. 

Sally follows in her family’s footsteps as giving back “to the community has always been a Caglia Family tradition”. She is active on many boards within the Fresno Community; to name a few … Valley Cultural Coalition, Cultural Arts District Association, Cultural Arts Rotary Club, Warnors Center for the Performing Arts, Greater Fresno Area Chamber of Commerce and the City of Fresno Historic Preservation Commission. Sally also serves as Finance Council Member for her church St. Alphonsus Catholic Church as well as the annual St. Elia Italian Celebration.

 Liz Gonzales Garvin

Liz received her BA from California State University, Sacramento and her MA from Mennonite Brethren Bible Seminary. Between 2003 and 2007, she was the CEO of Samaritan Women, a Central Valley group for women who have been incarcerated. Liz then started studying Conflict Management and Mediation as well as for various certifications within the field.

In 2011, she began working at the Better Business Bureau as the Director of Mediation, serving Civil, Probate and Family Law Mediation as well as Small Claims and Civil Limited Advisors Program for Fresno County. In 2015, she joined Fresno State as the Associate Director of Planned Giving, assisting the Director in overseeing gifts received from estates and trusts as well as receiving her certification of Certified Gift Planning.

Liz has shown her need to learn and excel as well as giving back to the community by belonging to the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Partnership of Philanthropic Planning and the Fresno Area Hispanic Chamber.

For more information about the Fresno Women's Network, you can visit their website or their Facebook page