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The Association: Successful women helping other women to succeed in business in Las Cruces

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“Women have unique needs and challenges in business,” said Sumer Rose-Nolen.

That’s why Rose-Nolen and her friend and fellow Las Cruces business owner Marci Dickerson created The Association last year and are kicking it back into high gear after a pandemic-induced slowdown.

The Association gives “ambitious female professionals and entrepreneurs a place to network, develop, connect and support one another through meaningful relationships and expert business-development instruction,” according to The Association’s website and Facebook page.

“It’s a comfortable place to share their wins and their struggles,” said Rose-Nolen, owner of SRN Financial Services, offering guidance on questions like, “How do I start a business?” and “How do I take my business to the next level?”

“This is something we needed to bring to the community in a more formal, organized way,” said Dickerson, who owns The Game, Game II and Dickerson’s Catering.

The group includes VIP members – female business owners, CEOs, CFOs – and general members who benefit from direct connection with their more seasoned and successful colleagues, Rose-Nolen said.

During The Association’s “speed mentoring” sessions, for example, general members get to spend five to 10 minutes each with “established successful women” like Wanda Bowman, Pat Sisbarro, Amy Hummer, Barbara Hubbard, Julia Brown and Leslie Cervantes, drawing on their experience and insights, their successes and failures, and asking any questions they want.

“Here’s 20 years of experience I’m giving you in 30 minutes,” Dickerson said.

“It’s the smart way to do it,” she said, “avoiding the mistakes that others made before you.

“If this is where you want to go, here’s now you get there. We have learned through trial and error. The only way up is together.”

The Association is a “productive, yet casual group,” Rose-Nolen said. “There are no rules of order.”

There is also no age or experience level required for membership. The Association targets college students and “up-and-coming professionals,” Dickerson said. One of its goals is to keep Las Cruces graduates from leaving Las Cruces to find the best career opportunities.

In fact, she said, the Association invites successful male businesspeople to participate in its programs. It also partners with New Mexico State University’s Arrowhead Center, which sponsors a WE (Women Entrepreneurs) Mean Business annual conference in Las Cruces.

“We find the experts everywhere,” Rose-Nolen said.

“It’s all about the connections,” Dickerson said. “How do we help people establish those connections without having grown up here?”

The Association can help members make their businesses more attractive to potential investors, maximize social media as a marketing tool, earn more and save more, make the best presentation of themselves during an annual review, work successfully from home and thrive as single mothers who balance career and family obligations that many men in business aren’t expected to deal with.

Rose-Nolen started in business for herself in 2005 after bumping her head on the glass ceiling at her previous job, where she watched a man she had trained become her boss and earn a higher salary.

The Association is pro-woman, but “it’s not man bashing,” Dickerson said. “It’s our reality.”

Some of The Association’s events are what Rose-Nolen called “wine and whines,” when everyone feels safe to say what she wants and to ask what she wants.

Rose-Nolen and Dickerson met when Dickerson was hired to cater Rose-Nolen’s wedding.

Rose-Nolen told Dickerson, “I don’t know people. I want to pick your brain. Teach me how to grow my business.”

A friendship – and partnership – developed. And Dickerson has become one of Rose-Nolen’s heroes.

“She took me under her wing,” Rose-Nolen said. “She also put me through the ringer. I appreciated the tough love.”

Rose-Nolen’s other hero is her mother.

“My mom is my motivation,” Rose-Nolen said. Her mother dealt with domestic violence issues and a lot of relocations – Rose-Nolen attended 15 different schools growing up.

Dickerson said her hero is Wanda Bowman, a Las Cruces business pioneer who “came up during a time in which women could not be independent,” Dickerson said.

“She built an empire,” Dickerson said of Bowman. “She just went to work and she did it.”

That reflects a personal mantra for Dickerson: “Don’t ask permission or forgiveness. Just do it.

“Our community is about hard work and networking,” she said.

Contact Rose-Nolen at 575-640-2014. Contact Dickerson at 575-644-0778.

Visit https://theassociationlc.net/ and www.facebook.com/theassociationlc.

The Association events

The Association features regularly scheduled monthly events, a quarterly social mixer and an annual keynote speaker.

The Association events

The Association features regularly scheduled monthly events, a quarterly social mixer and an annual keynote speaker.

Special events:

  • 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 11: “Elevate You in 2022: Health, Wealth & Growth” In partnership with NMSU Studio G, The Association will host an all-day workshop with afternoon breakout sessions for entrepreneurs and professionals. Free for The Association members, nonmembers pay $25;
  • 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Tuesday, March 8: “International Women's Day: Those Who Paved the Way” luncheon featuring local female business trailblazers Julia Brown, Barbara Hubbard, Wanda Bowman and Ammu Devasthali. Free for The Association members, nonmembers pay $15;

Monthly events:

  • Ask the Expert, which features an industry expert pertinent to female business or professional growth; noon-1 p.m. the first Monday of the month on the second floor of The Game II, 4131 Northrise Drive;
  • Fempreneur Breakfast Club, a coffee meetup that showcases local successful female business owners and includes brainstorming sessions; 9-10 a.m. the second Friday of the month at A Bite of Belgium, 741 N. Alameda Blvd.;
  • Monthly Panel Luncheon, with discussions of various relevant topics featuring local leaders and experts; 11:15 a.m.-1 p.m. the third Wednesday of the month at New Mexico Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum, 4100 Dripping Springs Road;
  • Professional Power Hour, a Zoom meeting for female professionals focused on career advancement; noon-1 p.m. the fourth Friday of the month; and
  • Annual Workshop. The 2021 keynote was former state Tourism Department Director Monique Jacobson, who headed the launch of the #NMTrue tourism campaign after managing the $1.8 billion Quaker Oats marketing portfolio. 2022 to be announced.