The Santa Barbara chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners began in 2006 with just 10 women and now has more than 90 members.

The national organization, NAWBO, was founded in 1975 and is the only dues-based organization representing the interests of all women entrepreneurs across all industries. It has more than 7,000 members in 80 chapters across the country. The Santa Barbara chapter is one of the fastest-growing chapters.

“We felt there was a place in Santa Barbara County to create a chapter that was both a part of an organization that represented the needs of women business owners and a group where they could meet and network with their peers,” said Dawn Hampton, president of Ph.D. Organizational Services and president of NAWBO-SB. “Our focus has been on presenting monthly programs that provide information business owners can actually put to use in their businesses and lives.”

The newly elected officers for 2010 were introduced at a news conference Nov. 12 at The Forum at Buynak Law Firm, one of NAWBO-SB’s sponsors.

Incoming president Maeda Palius, partner with Palius + O’Kelley CPAs, said that a recent issue of Newsweek magazine reported, “Working women are poised to become the biggest economic engine the world has ever known. NAWBO-SB has become the most dynamic business organization in SB County, and we are adding new members each month.”

“At NAWBO we offer an inclusive, dynamic business networking and educational opportunity that crosses all industries and business size,” Palius said. “We welcome all woman business owners. If you are senior management in your organization and own stock in the company, we consider you a business owner. If you are a CEO of a nonprofit, we also have membership opportunities for you. And, yes, we actually have a few brave men who attend our meetings and have joined our organization.”

To support this trend, Palius said NAWBO-SB is starting off 2010 with three programs offering strategies to help businesses grow in challenging times:

» January: How to lead and motivate your team in a performance-based economy

» February: How to use the new media to increase sales

» March:  How to use technology to make business cost less and produce more

Other NAWBO-SB officers for 2010 are vice president Catherine Dishion, Bank of America Home Loans; secretary Jennifer Favell, Ph.D., Coaching Individuals Facing Challenges; and treasurer Karen Mora, Accountability Plus.

The installation of officers will take place at NAWBO-SB’s annual Holiday Party on Dec. 16 at the Glen Annie Golf Club, where Superior Court Judge Denise De Bellefeuille will do the honors. The group also will collect donations for the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County at the event.

Hampton and Palius said NAWBO-SB holds additional workshops and has a mastermind support group that is open to members, and is planning networking mixers for the upcoming year. They thanked their sponsors, which, in addition to Buynak Law Firm, include Noozhawk, Pacific Coast Business Times, American Riviera Bank, Palius + O’Kelley and Anthem Blue Cross.

NAWBO-SB monthly breakfast meetings are held from 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. on the fourth Wednesday of each month at The Canary Hotel.

— Karen Dwyer is the public relations chairwoman for the National Association of Women Business Owners-Santa Barbara.