Lori Derauf, Jen Rudis, Allison Feldbruegge and Ellen Schaaf are the founders of WIN – Women's Involved Network.

If you’re a young woman exploring entrepreneurship, you can now find a mentor in Waunakee.

A subgroup of the Waunakee Area Chamber of Commerce with the title Women’s Involved Network has formed to offer such opportunities within the community.

Some of the founding WIN members also are Waunakee Rotary Club members who volunteer in the schools, and they wanted to reach out to younger women in the community, said Allison Feldbruegge of Waunakee Community Bank.

The founding members also sought to reach out to other women in business.

Chamber Director Ellen Schaaf said when the Chamber newsletter announced the group’s formation, about 20 people responded right away.

“The purpose is women empowering women and young women and being a mentor in the community,” Schaaf said.

The WIN group is also helping business owners. Jen Rudis of Jenerate Wellness found a summer intern after one of the Chamber members learned about the WIN group and referred her daughter.

With an interest in health care, that intern will learn more about running a wellness company.

Lori Derauf of Vacation Designers LLC added that WIN mentors can help instill confidence in middle school- and high school- age girls.

Feldbruegge said the youth program will evolve, adding several women in the community who own businesses and are available to talk to young women.

The recent WIN breakfast, upcoming luncheon and other events provide networking experience for business owners, as well.

“I think networking, you’re really putting yourself out there,” Rudis said. “I moved here four years ago, and I didn’t know a soul. You get that anxiety – but I think that’s OK,” she said, adding that only by going outside of one’s comfort zone can a person grow.

Derauf noted that Chamber WIN events can teach networking and other skills.

The next event will be a luncheon on April 18 at the Waunakee Village Center when Carissa Evans will lead a program titled “I’m Power” about dressing for success.

Schaaf said Evans will talk about creating a brand that combines one’s personal and professional images.

Rudis called Evans vibrant, saying, “I think she’s going to empower this entire group.”

Evans was an active member of the Chamber of Commerce when she lived in Iowa and started a similar women’s group, Feldbruegge added.

From the initial breakfast meeting, the WIN founders noticed the subgroup also helped connect women who work from home and are seeking support.

“It’s a diverse group of people who are in business. They all have their own goals and aspirations,” Rudis added.

Derauf said the WIN events will be times for sharing.

“We want them to come and to give them some good topics,” Derauf said.

WIN is open only to Waunakee Chamber of Commerce members, but guests are also welcome at events. The events are low cost or, like the upcoming breakfast, free. For more information, contact the Waunakee Area Chamber of Commerce at 849-5977.

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