The Year...was 1930. The City...Portland, Oregon.
The Main Character in the Scenario...Edith Shaw Johnson, an employee at the Credit Reporting Company of Portland, Oregon.
For many years prior to 1930, women in credit offices worked together, using the services of each other. They became acquainted with each other principally through the use of the telephone. Edith Shaw, an employee of the Credit Reporting Company of Portland, Oregon, wished to become personally acquainted with the women in the credit offices with whom she spoke daily over the telephone. Edith often marveled at the way our organization got started. Here is what she said:
"The Breakfast Club grew out of a golf foursome. Four of us, girls from the Credit Reporting Company, had the habit of playing nine holes before breakfast and then going downtown for a cup of coffee. One day, being of a curious disposition, I invited some of the girls from the various credit offices whose voices I knew so well, but had never seen, to join us. Not knowing when to stop, I called as many as I could and one hundred and fifty turned up a few mornings later when we met at the Congress Hotel for breakfast. It was fun getting acquainted, and we then started a permanent organization."
Can you imagine the surprise when 150 of the women she had called turned up for breakfast? Obviously, the time had come for an organization for women in credit. The 150 ladies had a wonderful time getting acquainted and discussing various credit problems.
The first meeting was such a success and so beneficial to everyone that they made the decision to meet again a few days later. These same girls, enthused with Edith's idea, met at the Congress Hotel at 7 o'clock in the morning on April 30, 1930 and formed the first "Credit Women's Breakfast Club." There were 125 in attendance and they became the charter members. Edith Shaw was elected President of the club.
The purpose for organizing CWBC was the belief that through Local, State, District and International group effort, women holding positions in the retail credit profession should become articulate as an organized body, thereby making possible the promotion of their common interests and the contribution of their common interests.
The original membership requirements were:
- Be employed in credit; and
- Be a member of a credit bureau or what became ICA
Later the requirement of #2 was dropped.
John Keeler, President of the Credit Reporting Company of Portland was an ardent admirer of CWBC and in his travels spread the word about the organization to the State of Washington. There, in September, 1930, another club was formed.
Word about CWBC spread rapidly. In May, 1934 the Pacific Northwest Council of CWBC was organized in Tacoma, Washington by delegates from five clubs in the tenth District of the National Retail Credit Association. The Pacific Northwest Council (now District 10) held its second annual meeting in Seattle, Washington, in May, 1935 with 200 representatives from 9 clubs.
The next District to form was the Dixie Council, in 1937, is now District 3 & 4, 1937. By the time of the June meeting in 1937 there were 61 clubs with a membership of 2,900 in the United States and Canada. At that June meeting in Spokane, Washington, the members formed the Credit Women's Breakfast Club of North America. That same year it was voted to make the CWBC a division of the National Retail Credit Association (now ICA). Avadana Cochran of Bremerton, Washington was elected as the first President.
At the second annual convention in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in 1938, Edith Shaw Johnson was elected Honorary President of CWBC of NA, in grateful recognition of her founding of the first Breakfast Club.
- The objectives of CWBC - then and now:
- To promote interest of those employed in the credit profession.
- To further education in credit and collection.
- To promote goodwill, fellowship and a better understanding among members by personal contact.
- To maintain a friendly relationship between credit departments of various firms and businesses represented by the members and local Credit Bureaus.
Another important event occurred in 1938. Ida Bell, a member of the Cleveland, Ohio Club was appointed Chairman of a committee to write a Creed for CWBC of NA and to design an emblem. The Creed and emblem were presented at the annual convention in 1938. The Club Creed was revised in July, 1988.
The original emblem was a shield. On the shield was a globe, stars, and links. That emblem was replaced in 1994 with the triangle design used today.
Over the years, CWBC of NA continued to flourish and grow. In 1948, the educational manual was developed and is still published every year. This manual is the basis for club programs throughout the year and is our primary educational tool. It is distributed to all dues paying members.
A Big Step...in 1954, during the conference in San Francisco, California, it was voted to incorporate the organization and establish a central office as a focal point for mailings, correspondence, supplies and equipment. The office of Executive Secretary was created. In 1973 the title was changed to Executive Vice President. In 1998, when the Executive Vice President retired, it was decided to change the structure of the staff.
There is no longer an executive vice president. There are two full time staff people who are in charge of the operation of the association, supervised by the president. There is one part time person to assist them.
CWBC of NA became a non-profit corporation in the State of Illinois on May 3, 1955. The corporate office was in operation by June, 1955. The corporate office serves as an administrative center for officers, chairmen and board members. There are three full-time persons on the staff, handling all administrative details, publications, jewelry and material orders and conference planning.
Name Changes...the first came in 1966, when the name of the organization was changed to "Credit Women-International." That same year an award for the International Credit Woman of the Year was started.
Membership has been open to men since the bylaws change in 1976. By 1983 men comprised almost 1% of the membership, and by 1993 about 7%. In 1979 the requirement that members be a member of a Credit Bureau or ICA was dropped. Now, the only membership requirement is that the person be employed by a company engaged in credit or collection activities.
As the years progressed there was another movement for change in order to encourage men and women from every level of the credit industry to become members of the association. The name was changed in June, 1987 to "CWI: Credit Professionals," and again in 1990 to "Credit Professionals International."
Foundation Established....In 1988 the Board of Directors voted to establish an education foundation. In 1989 the Credit Education Resources Foundation (CERF) was incorporated and received 501(C)3 status (tax deductible) from IRS. The mission of CERF is to provide credit education to the general public by utilizing and enhancing the combined talents, education and expertise of Credit Professionals International.
1993...Another change came at the 1993 Annual Meeting. CPI local organizations will no longer be called "clubs." They are now "local associations."
Always, we strive to achieve the purposes and objectives of Credit Professionals International. By banding together in an organization such as ours we have a larger voice in the promotion of our common interests. We are able to provide opportunities for CPI members in the areas of education and self-improvement. A closer contact and relationship is maintained among those who work in credit departments of various firms and businesses.