In 2007, friends Shira Zimmerman and Jodi Cooper co-founded a network model called Colorado Jewish Professional Women that encourages the innate qualities women bring to career-building functions.
“Women network differently,” says co-chair Zimmerman, CEO of Zim Consulting. “We talk about everything: family, community, volunteer work. And we stay in touch between meetings.”
Cooper, who co-chairs CJPW with Zimmerman and Jamie Sarché, remembers that “Shira approached me and asked, ‘How cool would it be to invite successful Jewish women to speak at events and see what we can do?’”
About 50 women showed up for the first event, which featured Ellen Robinson at Strings. It sold out — and there was a waiting list of 25 more.
“The need was already there,” says Cooper, VP of banking and officer operations at Steele Street Bank.
“There was a real void,” Zimmerman agrees. “Nothing like this existed before.”
Unlike other networking groups, CJPW does not require membership or dues.
Six special events geared to match women’s diverse schedules are held each year — one breakfast, four lunches and a cocktail party.
“You pay only for the event you can attend,” Zimmerman says.
Cooper says that “we like to mix it up so we can cover all the bases. There are people who can never make it downtown or get away for a breakfast.”
About 800 women are currently on the distribution list. Attendance at events usually depends on individual availability.
Participants are diverse professionally and at respective stages of life.
“We have lawyers, doctors, dentists, realtors, mortgage brokers, writers, women in the hospital industry, all over the board,” Zimmerman says. “The majority of them don’t own their own companies.