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"We are calling together women distinguished by their achievements in business, the arts, the professions, government and academia..." read the letter mailed the summer of 1979 inviting 113 exceptional Chicago women.

Ninety-seven women accepted the invitation to meet for the first time. The Chicago Network was off and running. During the early years, members forged friendships, supported each other in professional and community work, gathered at dinner meetings and networked, networked, networked.

Today there are more than 450 Chicago Network members. Has size changed us? Not much. We are still a diverse group; we're corporate executives, mathematicians, television producers, educators, doctors, lawyers, sculptors and painters, clergy, art conservators, scientists, musicians, architects and chefs.

We head advertising agencies, nonprofits, auction houses, messenger services, scrap recyclers, museums, public relations companies, large public and private companies and our own businesses. We are still apolitical. We still have only one absolute rule: you must return a fellow member's phone call or email within 24 hours.