LUBBOCK MAGAZINE – Aug 2019 By Jonathan Baker
Posted Aug 1, 2019 at 3:29 PM
Out here in West Texas, we talk a lot about the glory of cowboys and oil men. But the truth is, women have long been accomplishing great things on the South Plains. This month, we’re proud to highlight two female-driven organizations that are working hard to ensure Lubbock women have a place at the table – and in the conversation.
Texas Women in Business
The Lubbock chapter of Texas Women in Business first came into being a few years ago, after Paula Ann Pitifer moved to the city. Back in Austin, Pitifer had been on Texas Women in Business’s Board of Directors, and she immediately saw a need for a similar organization in the Hub City. “I started thinking, I don’t want to leave TWIB in Austin.” Indeed, outside of Austin, Lubbock’s is the first “chapter” of TWIB (pronounced “twib,” like it’s spelled). Pitifer approached her former colleagues in Austin and said, “Well, the name does say ‘Texas.’”
This Lubbock “need” Pitifer saw was based in the fact that the city lacked an overarching business group for women. “There’s a lot of different groups here,” she says. “But there’s not really one group that covers the whole gambit under one umbrella.” Pitifer says what she liked most about working with Texas Women in Business back in Austin, was that she didn’t have to “go all over the place for social or networking or business or community involvement. It was all housed in TWIB. It really fulfilled all my needs.
“To be honest,” says Pitifer, “Austin did a lot of the legwork when they created the group back in 2010. So I didn’t have to work with all of the legalities of it all – I just had to make people be aware that we were here.”
To do that, Pitifer used many of her connections from her “day job” at Texas Tech (she was careful to note that her job in the Procurement Services Office at Tech is not related to her work with TWIB.) ”[Through Tech], I kind of knew where to look for people. And then I went onto social media, which was very powerful. That’s where a lot of people are hiding. And Lubbock is still a large, small community. So, it spread pretty quickly.”
Pitifer spent about a year, around 2017, establishing the organization. She went on Channel 13; she did radio appearances. After that groundwork was laid, people began to take interest.
The entire premise of TWIB, explains Pitifer, is based around education. “Once women have the education, they have the knowledge, and that’s when they gain power. You have something concrete to grab onto. So we have education at No. 1, networking and business is No. 2, and after that, it’s about giving back to the local community.”
One frustration Pitifer has noticed throughout her career is that “nonprofits don’t communicate with each other. To me, we all should be communicating within the local community. Because if I can’t use some information, maybe somebody else can.” For this reason, after starting the TWIB chapter, Pitifer began accruing partnerships. “I looked for local 501(c)(3) groups,” rather than large national nonprofits. “And we’ve been partnering ever since I’ve been here.”
“I met Paula Ann Pitifer shortly after she moved to Lubbock from Austin,” recalls Christy Reeves, Lubbock director of Habitat for Humanity. Reeves was instantly excited about the idea of TWIB and helped Pitifer get it going by recruiting some local women for the initial brunch, making a donation to get the website going, and speaking at some TWIB events. “I’m thrilled with the influx of women taking on leadership roles in Lubbock,” says Reeves. “I love working with millennials because I feel like that age group is bringing the change. I am optimistic that things will keep improving as this age group starts to open up the minds of business leaders in terms of equality, empowerment and diversity.”
One of TWIB’s strongest partnerships exists with the Inside Out Foundation (featured on page 22). The two groups have teamed up for an “interactive fashion show,” a different spin on a traditional fashion show. “We had a panel and we slanted it toward traditional business wear. And we had an open discussion between the attendees and the panelists.” Other local nonprofits that TWIB has worked with include Lubbock Habitat for Humanity, Refuge Services and Women’s Protective Services.
″[TWIB is] just a great group of women, who are supporting other women in business at the local level,” says Alexis Arnold of the Inside Out Foundation. “We’re very excited to partner with TWIB and learn more about them and watch their membership grow. It’s actually quite remarkable what women can do when they have the support of their community.”
And as far as women-run businesses in the city? Pitifer says some of her favorites are Tommy Klein Construction Inc., Built for Dreams, Flint Avenue Marketing, Identify Corporate Innovations, and J. Hoffman’s.
“As a female small business owner,” says Christy Reeves, “it’s so important to continue to see groups like TWIB emerge and grow. The support of other women is tremendously helpful. Even though my kids are older now, it’s also important for Lubbock companies to help working mothers and young couples with flexible schedules, childcare options, great maternity leave, etc. I see so many young women who are putting off starting a family because they are starting their careers. It would be great to see a future workplace designed to accommodate working parents so they don’t have to do this. Of course, equal pay is always an important issue as well as preventing harassment in the workplace.”
So what does the future hold for Lubbock’s chapter of Texas Women in Business? Pitifer says she hopes to continue community outreach on a larger scale. She also hopes to build stronger partnerships between local women-run businesses and nonprofits.
Being on the South Plains, says Pitifer, there aren’t as many resources as there might be in Austin or Dallas. “And so, being involved with entrepreneurship, and helping to direct people to resources that I know are free. Helping them get started. I like to do that.”