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ARCHIVED  January 1, 1997

For-profit or not? Women’s Network status irks some

FORT COLLINS — Operation of a popular business women’s group came under fire recently, when some insiders challenged the way the organization is structured.

But Nancy Valentine, founder of the 20-year-old Fort Collins Women’s Network, insists everything is fine with the group and that any internal strife on her board of directors likely was a control issue.

Dissent among the network’s board members occurred earlier this year, when some became aware that the Fort Collins Women’s Network is a for-profit business, not a non-profit group like they believed.

“We’ve never been a 501 (c),” Valentine said. “I’ve operated this organization the same way for 20 years. I never said it was a 501 (c).”

Valentine said she has never made any money from the group and that dues and fund-raising projects go to cover basic expenses.

Still, some board members believed the networking group for which they volunteered their time was a non-profit.

“I don’t think anyone would have had a problem with it if we had been told up front,´ said one member who asked to remain unidentifed. The individual has left, saying she put in enough time volunteering for a private business.

“The good thing out of it though,” she added, “is that it is really good for networking. As long as they make it clear that it’s privately owned, it is a good place to meet business women.”

Indeed, since the flap, Valentine now has a notation on all literature that the Fort Collins Women’s Network is a private business.

And while most involved insist that it’s no relation to the Women’s Network issue, two additional business women’s groups are forming in Fort Collins.

Joyce Benesh-Williams, who was in the Women’s Network, is spearheading a new American Business Women’s Association chapter in Fort Collins.

“There’s been a lower-key chapter around since 1980,” she said, “but it’s time to start a chapter for the career woman.”

She said the new organizations are cropping up because of need, not out of a sense of retaliation or competition with Women’s Network.

“The focus is not to hurt Nancy (Valentine), but to provide other opportunities,” Benesh-Williams said.

Still, she said some members were very upset when they learned Women’s Network is not a non-profit.

Additionally, the Colorado Women’s Chamber of Commerce is launching a Northern Colorado chapter. The effort is organized by Sherry Sexton, another former Women’s Network board

member.

Valentine noted that the group has been trying to start a northern chapter for more than a year.

“There’s room out there for all kinds of organizations,” she said, noting that each group typically offers something a little different for its respective members. “The main thing is women supporting women.”

FORT COLLINS — Operation of a popular business women’s group came under fire recently, when some insiders challenged the way the organization is structured.

But Nancy Valentine, founder of the 20-year-old Fort Collins Women’s Network, insists everything is fine with the group and that any internal strife on her board of directors likely was a control issue.

Dissent among the network’s board members occurred earlier this year, when some became aware that the Fort Collins Women’s Network is a for-profit business, not a non-profit group like they believed.

“We’ve never been a 501 (c),” Valentine said. “I’ve operated this organization the same way…

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