Building Relationships And Careers: Women’s Leadership Network celebrates 30 years

By Alexander Deedy
Independent Record, Helena, Mont.

Caitlyn Fransen first joined the Women’s Leadership Network when she moved to Helena three years ago after graduating from the University of Montana in Missoula.

At one of her first meetings, Fransen met Samantha Erpenbach, who worked as a conference planner. The two got to know each other over time, and when Fransen was applying for a job as the education and conferences coordinator with the Montana Hospital Association, she reached out to Erpenbach for help.

The more experienced professional took Fransen under her wing and guided her through the application. About eight months ago the Montana Hospital Association hired her.

“Those relationships I built through WLN have really propelled me forward in my career,” Fransen said.

Now celebrating its 30th year as an organization, the Helena-based Women’s Leadership Network is reinventing itself in an effort to appeal to any woman who wants to improve her professional life.

WLN launched in 1985 as the Montana Association for Female Executives, an exclusive association that targeted women in the upper echelon of government or corporate hierarchy.

As the workforce and women’s role within it changed, MAFE members rebranded the group as the Women’s Leadership Network in 2004.
The organization is doing a sort of rebranding expansion, promoting itself on social media and reaching to attract the young, professional women.

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