For Women, By Women

Three top female executives share why, twenty-five years later, a woman's only professional organization still matters in the world of business

Watch Video In 1981, the Equal Rights Amendment was nearly dead in the water nine years after it was passed by Congress and sent to the states for two-thirds ratification. While the workforce was changing, evidence of a “glass ceiling” that prevented many women from higher-paying, higher-level careers was everywhere, even in progressive Madison. So a group of women who had forged their way into the corner office came together to ensure that other local business leaders would be supported, while future generations of female executives would be mentored. Madison Magazine editor Brennan Nardi sat down with three professionals for whom TEMPO has made a remarkable difference through the years.

When did you join TEMPO?

Kelda Helen Roys: I joined last year, and I was nominated by my board president, who is a retired executive director of a non-profit, and she said that it would be a great opportunity for me to meet other women leaders and find some mentors and really get to know sort of the professional network in Madison.

Linda Balisle: I was nominated by a friend who had been in TEMPO for awhile, and when I became a partner in a law firm, I became eligible. This was in the late ’80s before we had so many women law partners. And so I joined because it is a great place to meet women of other professions who are at the top of their business.

Lucy Keane: I’ve just been in TEMPO for a couple of years. I always looked at TEMPO from the outside in, and saw the people that were members. And when I was nominated, I saw it as an opportunity to connect with people who were in government, education, business, the arts. It sort of levels the playing field. It doesn’t matter what profession you’re in when you’re in TEMPO, it matters that you’re in TEMPO, and you get a kind of cross-section of support. Where we have a lot of support in our profession, we don’t have a lot of support from other people in other professions, and it was just a great opportunity to experience that.

Why wouldn’t it be more important for you to join an organization of women from your own profession?

Balisle: TEMPO membership I felt addressed different issues. I, of course, belong to all the professional lawyer organizations, and that’s part of my work is to keep up within my profession, and TEMPO is really for the members. Everybody in TEMPO is generally over-committed in about every area of their life and belongs to all their professional organizations, and contributes a lot in the community. And we’ve been very protective of making sure that TEMPO doesn’t add to that over-commitment of outside services because everybody is doing so much. This is support for women who, in many cases, are the only woman executive in their business – particularly when TEMPO started. Many women were the only women who were the professionals or executives in their business, and there’s isolation there. While that isolation isn’t so great now, it still exists, and it certainly exists at the top executive level. So TEMPO is really there for those who have made it in some way to support each other, not to add to the commitments that we all already have.

How have you felt supported by TEMPO?

Keane: Well, one of the things we say in our business is you can’t read the label while you’re inside the bottle. …when I need input or when I need ideas, I don’t always like to go to people who are in my field because I’m going to get an answer that I probably already have thought of. But the different perspective of different people has been really important. And as far as the support issue, I can tell you a quick story … our office was burglarized in December [2005], and we lost a lot of equipment, and it just so happened that the next day there was a TEMPO meeting. I didn’t have a computer and the police were already gone, and so it was sort of like, “well I may as well go.” And I went to the meeting and talked to a few people just in the hallway, and within fifteen minutes, I had the offer of “I’ll bring over computers,” “You can come to my office,” “We have all the programs you guys use,” “Well, do you have all your files? Can we help you with any backup?” And some are people that I’ve met for a grand total of maybe an hour in my whole life. …To me, that was really the most powerful thing about TEMPO. I was in this little mini-crisis, and immediately there was this safety net of people who I didn’t even know saying, “We’ll help you,” “You want to come over and use our office?” “Can I send some designers over to your office to help you out?” It was amazing. And that kind of support wouldn’t exist in my own professional organization. They’d feel bad, but move on.

Kelda, you’ve been with TEMPO the least amount of time. Have you seen differences in not just the support, but the communication in the work that you do both inside NARAL and outside in the community?

Roys: Like Linda, I’m a member of a lot of organizations. I’m a lobbyist and an attorney, and I think TEMPO has a very different character. There are certainly a lot of opportunities for professional development and education in TEMPO, but one of the things that I really love to see are some of the older members that are retired, and the bonds that they have with women that they’ve known for thirty years. And part of the reason that I’m in TEMPO is because I hope that I can develop bonds like that too, and again, when you’re in a professional world, you tend to work long hours and you hang out with the people from your field, and it’s really nice to sort of get outside the bottle and meet people who are doing something different and don’t necessarily always want to talk about what you talk about every day.

Linda, why is it still important to have women’s networks as opposed to women and men’s networks, and why haven’t we come together?

Balisle: Well, actually we have, and I think it’s important to have both, I think that’s the answer. But, I have to say, when something comes up for me – either a new business I’m working on or a new issue – if I communicate with somebody in TEMPO, even if we’ve never met, I get a response like that. That is not always true of the mixed gender service organizations I’ve been involved in. While they have been very helpful and very good and great for connections, it’s a different kind of bond. Most of the men in those organizations have never felt the feeling of isolation in their profession. They’ve generally had a mentor. They’ve generally had somebody like them all along the way. In TEMPO, a lot of women there have gone through their careers, and to get to the top, they’ve had to be the only one along the way quite a bit. And so I think we have to belong to both.

Who was your first mentor in TEMPO, and how did that impact your life?

Balisle: I think that the very first was Valerie Mannis, who had been a friend and an attorney in town. Valerie has just always been a good mentor, period, because she’s had such a variety of experiences and she’s just been so smart and wise. So I’ve always benefited from that. Along the way, I’ve had wonderful advice and support from Gene Manchester-Bittick, who I consider the grand dame of business in Madison, and I just think she’s been fabulous. Diane Everson has been tremendous. When I’ve had a specific project to talk about, I go look at my list at TEMPO, and I talk to Kathleen Woit at the [Madison] Community Foundation when we’re talking about setting up a foundation to fund some research. I just feel so comfortable going there and finding not just a good person to talk to, but remember, the women in TEMPO are at the top, so they really can do something, which is wonderful. So, I think I’ve relied on so many people in TEMPO that now it doesn’t even feel like a mentoring because we do it for each other. It’s really a sharing more than a mentoring. Stereotypically, in men’s organizations – the old boys’ network – there’s this idea of exclusivity. Women, stereotypically, are more inclusive – this governing by committee notion versus a more hierarchical type of leadership …Why not be more inclusive? Balisle: We actually made a decision. One of the reasons The Business Forum (www.thebusinessforum.org) exists is because it decided to have the different levels – the entry level, mid-management level, and executive level. TEMPO really was a place for the top women to be supportive of each other because they generally were isolates. So that was a reason for the exclusivity, I think. And to keep the focus on the members. When you mix it up a little more, you do tend to do more service projects and that kind of thing, and that’s not what TEMPO was adding to people’s lives.

I guess my question is, is it still relevant?

Keane: I think one of the reasons why TEMPO remains a women’s organization is because it works. One of the great stories about TEMPO’s foundation was when Sue Springman was working for Mayor Joel Skornicka, and he said, “I want to put some women in my administration,” and they didn’t have anywhere to go to find them. We couldn’t be in Rotary; there weren’t any country club memberships. There just weren’t places, there just wasn’t a well. There wasn’t anywhere to go. And so in someone’s living room, they decided, “We need a way to connect … women to each other in these executive leadership positions as well as become a resource for people who are seeking out great female leaders. And you see that with the board of directors initiative that TEMPO has taken on, where we’re trying to create a feeder system for people who are looking for mixed gender representation on their board of directors, especially in for-profit companies where the balance is just ridiculously skewed. So, our work isn’t done. It just isn’t done. And as long as it works, it makes sense to keep it the way it is. And I think Linda’s right: I think the focus is what makes our organization powerful. It’s about the members, it’s about each other …we’re not a service organization. The slogan – and it’s so true – we’re trying to connect spheres of influence to each other, and as long as that motto works, there’s no reason to change it.

Kelda, you are a very young leader of an organization, and congratulations to you … How do you feel about the generation of working women that are coming up through the ranks? Do they have that same the idea that these networks matter? I think it’s become really ingrained. One of the things that is a joy to me in some sense is the idea that there is a sense of almost entitlement for women of my generation. It’s not a question that we should be able to rise to the top of our profession. We can see visible examples of that in nearly every field, and so that I think is a really positive development that organizations like TEMPO have really fostered. But in the same sense, I think that there is work to be done, and we don’t want to take it for granted. Particularly when you’re in a position of leadership and responsibility for an organization or a department, there’s a tremendous amount of stress that comes with that. There are a lot of challenges, and it’s very helpful to have someone whom you can confide in and talk with and get advice from and just have a support network there. And I think that there will always be isolation simply because when you’re in a high-powered career or a position of leadership, it’s naturally isolating because you spend a lot of time at work. And so there will always be a need for an organization like TEMPO to really help people in those positions be as effective as they possibly can.

Let’s broaden a little bit and talk about the climate for women in business in Madison. How has it changed for you Linda over the years? Better, worse, same?

Balisle: It’s a world of change. I graduate from law school in 1979, and at that time, it had only been about five years that law firms interviewed women at the [UW] law school. Understand, before that, many just didn’t interview women. So it was still relatively new. In terms of women in business, most of the women in business I knew were women who opened their own shops after being in an organization that didn’t treat them well. That was the scenario. A woman would be in a big law firm, she didn’t feel treated well, she’d go out and start her own. A woman would be in some kind of merchandising business and wasn’t treated well, wasn’t moved up when she should have been, so she created her own niche and started her own business. But that’s a very common scenario, and that actually continues today and is one reason most new businesses – the statistics are really quite amazing – the percentage of businesses that are women-initiated businesses is substantial. The other component of it that I think people don’t remember is the credit and banking end of it. I mean, there are some women in TEMPO who could tell you that they were not allowed to get loans under their names without their husbands’ signature. And that was in the late ’60s and early ‘70s when that still happened – and even into the late ’70s in some banking arenas. In the ’80s, what I found is that some banks would overlook that but they still preferred to have a husband’s signature, even if it was a woman-owned business. Credit was a huge thing for women. I think credit is a big thing now for any business, but it was a huge thing for women at that point. What I have found over the years, as more women have become executives in these businesses, there is a change in treatment of other women in business, from banking, from financial planning, from corporate. Not just human relations, which has been a traditional area for women, but also in product development, in sales management and that kind of thing. There are just more women in those departments. So it’s different now when you’re working with other entities. As for my clients, I represent a lot of people who own businesses when they’re getting a divorce; it’s been interesting over the years to see, even in a family business, how many of the women decide to keep the business rather than the husband. That has changed over time. So there’s more of just women seeing themselves in the role of a business person than when I first started practicing law.

What has been your experience, Lucy?

Keane: I think one of the things that’s interesting, and Kelda referenced it before – TEMPO is a cross-generational organization and that’s really kind of a cool thing. I know that my TEMPO class [included] the dean of students from the University of Wisconsin, a Supreme Court justice, the president of MATC. I mean, I remember sitting in the room going like, “What am I doing here? We have eleven apples and an orange!” But what you learn over time is that it was humbling to me, but it was also empowering. And I think that in the spirit of the business climate here and other places where we do business, that connection is empowering. And, you know, when I started in radio advertising, my first general manager said to me, “Lucy, I know you work with a lot of advertising agencies, but you know, don’t get me wrong, I think you do a pretty good job with them, but women can’t call on ad agencies, men have to call on ad agencies.” So I own an advertising agency today. And that’s since the mid-80s. That isn’t several people’s lifetimes, that’s the span of one relatively short career....

Has it changed? Do you feel like a woman of Kelda’s age wouldn’t have that same experience?

Keane: Certainly. I’m not saying that the good old boys’ club doesn’t still exist in a lot of circles because it certainly still does. But I think we’ve proven ourselves to be successful, and nothing sells like success. And so I see that when people hire in that industry today. Now they say, “If everything else is equal, I’ll take a woman.” Whereas before, it didn’t matter how equal it was, it wasn’t going to be a woman.

I think what would be humbling to a Supreme Court Justice and a president of a university would be someone who has that wonderful creative side that you have, but also that business know-how … How do you balance the two, the creative side and the business side, and make it all work?

Keane: I think that Linda hit it very well in saying that a lot of us who are in the positions that we are in created them out of a sense of dissatisfaction in something else that we were doing. So we balance that the same way we do everything else. We just do it. We just figure it out. I feel fortunate to be in a position where I can use both my right brain and my left brain to be creative not just on behalf of our clients, but how our business functions. What’s our environment like? … We said we’re never going to be the kind of place that anyone else has ever worked. We want to keep people for life if we can. You need time off to be with your family? Don’t even ask me, just go do it. … People have things in their lives that they have to do, and so I think it enables us to set our businesses up the way we want to set our lives up…

Kelda, do you see that sort of work-life balance adjusted more towards life now? I think that there is certainly a lot more creativity in that area, and that’s good. There have just been a lot of innovations that have made it easier for men to be involved in their families’ lives, and for women to have a full career as well as a home life. But certainly, I think that’s the single biggest challenge or obstacle facing women today that go in with the sense of “I can do it, I have the brain power, I have the education, I have opportunities and confidence and the abilities, but how am I going to make this work?” And I think that it creates a lot of anxiety, and I know certainly that I’ve felt that in my own life when I think of, “You know, I work all the time now, how am I going to stay in a job that’s stimulating to me, where I’m making a difference, and then also add onto it the kind of home life that I’m interested in having?”

The percentage of women on for-profit boards has not changed much over the years, and that’s a problem. Equal pay – women are still making [less] than men make. These are huge issues for Madison, for Wisconsin, and how can TEMPO deal with those issues?

Balisle: The year I was president of TEMPO, we started working with people on identifying women who wanted to be on corporate boards. And looking at corporate boards and their make-up, and [how we could] influence that. And it was very interesting. The effort that was made in providing the names of women and remarkable resumes to individual companies [created] so little response about appointing them. When I would get the annual statements for companies in which I owned stock and my retirement account, and they’d give you the proxy to vote for the board members, I would look at that list. There was never a woman on it, and I would write a letter, “I’ll start voting when you start having a board that looks like America.” I never got a response … My personal experience has been that when a corporate board has a woman – and I’m on a bank board – they have “their woman.”

Token Balisle: And that attitude still shocks me, and its 2006 and I’ve been doing this a long time, and to be considered, “Well, we have own woman now,” is still very, very frustrating. However, it’s nothing new that people want to be with people they’re comfortable with, and when it comes time to thinking of people, they think of people they know and hang out with. When I was on the State Bar [of Wisconsin] board of governors, that was discussed because the slate of officers would routinely be white males, and there were some very interesting discussions by African American and women members of the board. You could count all of them on one hand. [We talked] about how if you just pick people you know, first of all, it reflects how homogenous your group of friends are, but you’re never going to get diversity. And that was a discussion we were having in the ’80s, and so to find it is still sort of a discussion is interesting. One of our [TEMPO] members … was a finalist for a very big job at a university and got a letter back saying, “Well, I think you were the best qualified, you’re just fabulous, but we’re going to go with the inside guy.” And it was like, she was supposed say, “Well, that’s okay, I understand,” and she didn’t. And that is still happening in 2006. …I just think that women who own any interest in any business through their retirement accounts or otherwise should be insisting that those boards are more diverse. Wouldn’t that have helped Enron a little bit if there was somebody who spoke up? So that is concerning to me that that is still such a strong issue for women.

Is that something that TEMPO could take a look at and try to make a difference?

Keane: …if we had Kathleen Woit [president, Madison Community Foundation] were here, she’d be the perfect person to address this because she’s heading up the board initiative on behalf of TEMPO. And part of what our organization is trying to do is make sure that our members are positioned for selection. And part of that is just connections, but the other part of it is, “Can you read a P&L statement? Do you know what this means on a balance sheet?” … What dimension am I bringing to this board? It’s not the fact that I’m a female, but it’s the approach, the difference, the philosophical differences. In some cases, it’s empathy, and in some cases, it’s intolerance, and whatever it might be, but how do we position ourselves so like, Joel Skornicka did some twenty six years ago when he wanted to put some women [in his cabinet], Do we have a well that we can go to? That’s an initiative that TEMPO has taken on, and has aggressively sold, for lack of a better word, to our membership, saying “Please you guys, come to these sessions, learn about these topics because you are the boards of the future.” And the only way for us to be selected is to be prepared to be selected …

Roys: The lieutenant governor’s Wisconsin Women Equal Prosperity program (www.wiwep.org) actually has put together some really amazing research that companies that do have gender-balanced representation on their boards are actually more profitable, so … having women or having diversity or different perspectives, actually, is good for business. …when you can ensure that it affects your bottom line, that’s when changes will occur. Because people need to see something to provoke a change out of their zone of comfort, and generally it’s profit motive.

Keane: While we want diversity and gender equity, I think what we really want is just to be viewed as the most qualified candidate. … Not just because we’re a woman, but because we’re smart, we’ve got a lot of experience, we have the credentials to earn the spot, not to earn the “woman’s spot” on the board.

It’s almost haunting when you think about at least some of these conversations you could be having when TEMPO first started twenty five years ago. … What is TEMPO doing to recruit more minorities into its organization? Have we hit that critical mass yet?

Balisle: No, I think what we’ve done is we’ve actively looked at African American women who are at the top of where they are, and actively recruited, and been fortunate to have African American women, Hispanic women, women of a variety of heritages because they were at the top of their game. And so TEMPO has been okay about it, but I always think it can be better. I think that one of the things about women historically, and minority women, is that their initial rise to authority is often in the non-profit sector before the for-profit sector. And, sometimes, non-profit sectors are not traditionally seen as executive positions – I think Kelda can probably talk about that more. TEMPO has been very good, particularly in the last ten years, about looking at the non-profit sector as a source of executives, and as a result, we’ve had more diversity just by doing that. So, it’s always an issue, it’s always a discussion. It’s a very important thing. I just think that the more diversity you have, the stronger you are because you’re not having to guess at what people think, you’re not imposing your own frame of reference on other people, and it broadens all of us to understand people who may come from different places than we do. I think Kelda and Lucy both talked about the balance issue, and I find it fascinating to hear a young woman talk about, “Well, now how can I work until nine every night if I have a family at home? When do I leave to take the dog out and pick up the child at the day care? And I look back on those years when I was doing all those things, and frankly, I didn’t sleep much. That’s really the short answer. I relied on friends and I relied on all sorts of people. And it comes down to, are you a person that has ambition and drive to go some place that others may not have gone, and do you have the energy at the end of the day to be able to do all of that? And it is a mixed bag, and I can’t tell you about any particular role model who has done it all perfectly. I think the biggest thing that women I’ve known in TEMPO who have had to balance all of that and in the legal profession is to live with your own imperfection and the fact that you’re not going to be the best mother, you’re not going to be maybe the best lawyer, you’re not going to be the best business person, but it’s all going to be good enough. It’s all going to be good enough. And women who are executives in business tend to be perfectionists, and that’s very stressful to not be the best.

[In TEMPO], everybody’s a perfectionist, as you say, everybody’s a workaholic, everybody wants to succeed more and better … not just from an ego level but from looking at our history as women. You’re not there for any other reason.

Balisle: Women multi-task. That is just what we do. So when I have interest in other ventures…you know, I’ve got an established law firm, I’ve been doing this for twenty seven years, and I have other interests. But people go, “How can you do it all?” I go, “I’ve always done four or five things”. I mean, my son was three-and-a-half months old when I started law school. But that’s what women do, is multiple things. You just sort of shift what they are at different times.

Do you think the climate’s changing so that women don’t have to? We multi-task because we have to multi-task. Maybe we don’t want to multi-task and shouldn’t have to.

Keane: I think it’s more the issue of perfection, and then the combination – you throw in the multi-tasking capability, which may not be desired…

We’re just good at it.

Keane: I think that that may be a little bit more the issue is the drive, and admittedly … I do not gladly tolerate the fool, and I know that’s an imperfection in me because it’s like, “Darn it, just do it,” and that causes stress, and I’m going to take to heart what Linda said. That’s good advice. It’s OK to be OK. … And then that does afford you the opportunity to multi-task, and do it maybe more effectively, maybe a less stressful way of doing it. One of the best quotes that I’ve ever heard about owning a business is that “It’s great to own your own business because you only have to work half-days. Pick any twelve hours you want.” And that’s true, and then you add in, “But I want to be in TEMPO, and I want to serve on the boards and committees that I serve on, and I want to play golf.” And so that’s where you have the things you need to do and the things that you want to do collide, and that’s I think what Kelda was saying, too. They collide, and you just do it. You multi-task and you just do it because that’s what you want for your work life: balance.

Roys: In terms of the climate, I think the thing that might make it possible for TEMPO women is really having a passion for what they do. If you’re in your own business, or you’re in a sector that you really care about, that makes it a lot easier. I think so many people do not have that luxury; they’re just working to make ends meet. And so, really all of us in TEMPO have to remember how lucky we are despite the challenges to be in a position where we care about our jobs, and we’re invested in them, and that makes it OK when you’re working twelve hours – you can say, well there’s an end to it, and I care about what I’m doing.

Keane: One of the things that this membership, at least for me, affords me the opportunity is to say… “You know what? Should I let go of this piece, whatever it was, a particularly difficult non-profit client or whatever it is? To say, I’m making myself crazy, but you see it from a different perspective than I do. Is it me being a perfectionist? Is it that we haven’t properly educated this person on what our role in this process is? What should I do?” And I can call someone who is in a fringe industry to what I do, or I can call someone who is a direct competitor of mine, and because I’m calling under this TEMPO platform, I can get input and advice from someone on any other day I hope I beat in a competitive environment, and that to me, is the universal equalizer of TEMPO. When we were talking about the [TEMPO] 25th anniversary … we were talking about the idea, “Leadership by Example” and mentoring … and we went around the table and talked about the topic of mentoring… The consensus in the room was that most of our mentors don’t know they are our mentors. And that speaks a little bit to what Linda was saying of the lateral mentorship. I look to that person for leadership or for example because I see them in their environment. Not because they’ve been doing it thirty years longer than I have, or because they were a great teacher, or sort of the traditional default modes for mentors. Most of us agree that the people who are our mentors in TEMPO have absolutely no idea that they’re mentoring us.

Could there be mentors that are younger than you are?

Keane: Absolutely, certainly … I don’t think mentor equals old. I think mentor equals fresh. I think mentor equals challenge. And I don’t think, whether you’re male or female, or young or old… Change is the way we challenge ourselves personally. If you can be open to say… I bet I could sit down with Kelda for lunch, even though I’m considerably older than she is, and learn a lot from her.

Let’s talk about TEMPO tomorrow. What is your hope for TEMPO into the future?

Balisle: I hope we find more Keldas because she is a young executive who has all the challenges of an executive, and who we do learn a lot from. There is a notion of beginner’s mind in some way, and Kelda has learned a lot, but she looks at us and has a very fresh point of view. I hope we have more young women who are making it to the top sooner than we did, and who can become members of TEMPO. And I think we actually have an initiative for women at the top and rising, and I think that’s got a wonderful future in TEMPO.

Roys: I would like to see TEMPO grow more diverse in many different areas. In terms of the professional realms, where we have representation, in terms of obviously ethnic diversity and racial diversity. Geography – I would like to see more chapters in [other] places. As people move, to start chapters up, which I think is a testament to how powerful TEMPO can be in people’s professional lives.

Lucy, you’re on the 25th committee. Let’s talk about the celebration a little bit, share with people what we’re going to see over the next couple of months.

Keane: Well, I’ll thank Madison Magazine because you’ve been a great venue for us to place advertisements that profile women in our organization. The spirit of that campaign was really to show that we’re everywhere – we’re in law, we’re in government, we’re in business, we’re in non-profit … not necessarily that they’re the most accomplished people by any stretch of the imagination because then we’d have 287 ads to run because that’s TEMPO’s membership. But they’re representative of the spirit. We talk about that we influence millions of dollars, we mentor lots of people, we manage hundreds of businesses, and from that standpoint, we really settled in on [the slogan “Leadership by Example.” And people lead in different ways. People give back through their gifts of their time, through their gifts of talent, through their resources. Everyone does it a different way, and it doesn’t matter what your way is – it matters that we do it. And so that’s really what we’ve tried to communicate through our 25th celebration – which is, we’re here, we’re leaders in your community, we’re standing shoulder to shoulder with you – you just might not know who we are. And … one of the ways you give back is a gift, and we’re presenting this “Side-by-Side” concert at the Capitol Theater, which is for the first time … concert of professional musicians in the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra with youth musicians in the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestra, playing together side-by-side. It’s just a neat opportunity to bridge those generations and bring them together, which kind of works in concert with things we’ve talked about as it relates to TEMPO. And at the same time, we’re going to acknowledge [businesswoman and philanthropist] Pleasant Rowland for the leadership that she has shown in Madison through her obviously terrific generosity, but also her great entrepreneurial spirit. But this is really about celebrating the fact that TEMPO has fostered the rise of the women of our generations together to a really impactful 700-strong international organization that connects people together. And that’s really what our 25th is about … This is what we’ve done, this is pretty cool. We’ve been here a long time.

Balisle: You asked about some of the differences from the beginning to now, and one of the big ones is when TEMPO started, there was only a TEMPO in Milwaukee, and the founders of TEMPO Madison wanted to replicate that in Madison, and did so. Over the years, as our members have moved other places – usually for work, sometimes for family – they’ve established TEMPO chapters in Tucson, in Chicago, in Paris, … Naples, Florida. The list goes on, and while that makes wonderful places for us to have meetings – once a year we have a TEMPO International meeting and next year it’s in Banff, Canada – it also shows how important TEMPO has been to our members that they take it to where they go and create another TEMPO chapter, and that was never planned, that was not one of the initial goals, and it’s been really wonderful thing that’s happened over time and I assume will continue to happen.

So when a single woman goes to a new community or a new city with no connections, how do you start?

Balisle: Well, if you want to get started, you contact the mother ship – the Milwaukee and Madison [chapters] and the TEMPO International organization, and you get help. Suggestions for how to do the most important thing and that is find the right women – t he top women and where they are. And once you get the right people, frankly it happens in its own.

Keane: The other thing is that the organization serves as outreach. So if I were to move to Minneapolis, I could remain a TEMPO member at-large and still participate in the meetings and the education and the programming so that in the time that it may take to start another organization, another chapter, the saw is still sharp. …I really think that as we look into the crystal ball and how we will measure success for TEMPO twenty five years from now, that would be a benchmark I would use, is how successful are we in our relatively portable society where people up and move all over the place all the time, to spread our wings into other parts of the country, and additionally bringing new and younger members up to keep our organization strong.

TEMPO Madison’s 25th festivities conclude Sept. 30 with a concert of professional and youth musicians and a special tribute to national business leader and philanthropist, Madisonian Pleasant Rowland. For tickets, call 258-4141 or visit overturecenter.com.

Madison Magazine - September 2006
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