In 2003, a group of Washington, D.C.-area women recognized a need in their community. Having attended many conferences, the women found the most fulfilling time was spent between work sessions—time spent building both personal and professional relationships. Often, these deeper, meaningful relationships lead to successful professional relationships.
The group also recognized that women play key roles in the environmental movement. Yet, given the lack of attention paid to the environmental movement in traditional high school and college curricula, many women are unaware of the pioneers of the movement.
To fill this void, the group put their heads together and created the concept for EcoHour. The first EcoHour was held in April 2004, and the featured speaker was Alisa Gravitz, the Executive Director of Co-op America. From then on, the group put together monthly meetings of women environmental advocates. The idea was to create a space for new-comers to D.C. to connect with other environmental professionals, and to build a network of women at every professional level, connected by their interest in environmental issues. The speakers serve as role models for women, motivating and encouraging them to pursue their own (often difficult) environmental work and to grow both personally and professionally.
The group took on the name DC EcoWomen, with the idea that EcoWomen chapters would also develop in other areas of the country. EcoWomen was officially incorporated in 2010, and DC EcoWomen is the founding chapter of the organization.
No matter their rank or position, women who work on environmental issues benefit from greater opportunities to network. Personal relationships among women lead to significant professional synergies. A social setting that brings together women from diverse positions across the environmental field, increases professional successes and accomplishments, and the potential environmental payoff of a strengthened network of environmental advocates is priceless.