TEMPO Madison is the brainchild principally of three women – Boo Henderson, Sue Riordan, and Barb Miller. In the Fall of 1980 they decided to do something about the phenomenon they had observed, namely, that most women, regardless of talent, competence or position, were outside the Madison power structure—outside looking in that is.
It was their belief—a belief shared by those who joined their organizing efforts–that, to the extent women remain outside and do not become partners with the institutions that direct Madison’s future, women would be denied the opportunity to stretch their own talents or to make their full contribution to the community. To deny women the opportunity to contribute fully is to deprive the community and to waste a valuable resource.
The need was seen for an organization to break down barriers and to integrate women executives into the fiber of Madison—an organization that would not, however, employ confrontation or debate or sexist finger-pointing. Rather, an organization that would achieve its objectives through far more subtle means.
In Milwaukee there was just such an organization called TEMPO. Our organizers met with their officers and it was agreed that we could use the same name as long as we patterned our efforts after theirs. It was clear to our founders that the Milwaukee organization had a successful formula and that we could learn from their experiences.
Thence began the organizing and planning, all of which became; finalized in the Fall of 1981, with Boo Henderson serving as our first President.
Organizationally, the first step was to construct a membership roster to include:
The principal objective of the organization was to bring together influential women in the community in order to:
TEMPO was not to be:
TEMPO does not focus on women’s issues per se. TEMPO is first and foremost an organization of talented executives and professionals seeking to contribute to the community, utilizing talents to help Madison grow and to grow with it.
These executives are, however, primarily women with confidence in their abilities to assume leadership roles in this city. TEMPO does not directly concern itself with sexism. Rather, it focuses on and emphasizes excellence, talent and accomplishments as evidence of our potential and the potential of all Madison women.
With this mission in focus, we set for ourselves certain goals.
If TEMPO was to be taken seriously and if it was to be a vehicle for each of us to use to enhance our own professional objectives, we knew we had to reach beyond our own friends and associates to bring into our ranks the highest placed women in all organizations in the city.
This, of course, would take time. It would also take careful screening of the organizations and corporations in Madison.
It became clear that for a period of time, TEMPO’s membership committee would have to be more than just the administrative overseer for the nomination process. It had to become essentially a “search” committee, identifying women who ideally should be long to TEMPO but who were not necessarily personally known to our membership.
This did it.
Personal contacts were made and we gradually built up our membership. The current membership roster is testimony to the committee’s success.
TEMPO's luncheons provide an opportunity and a setting in which to broker influence. To make this happen, members must seize the initiative and use the luncheons to solidify their professional relationships with colleagues and leaders in the community. Thus, members are urged to bring guests-especially male guests so that they can see first hand the great array of talent that exists in TEMPO’s membership, both collectively and individually.
In the 40 years since its inception, TEMPO has made a mark on the city.
It was clear from the very beginning that the speakers program was the key to much of what TEMPO wanted to accomplish through its unique and subtle strategy. Specifically, it was planned that the speakers program would consist of those leaders who needed exposure to talented female executives as well as serve as a major attraction for the expanded audience of prominent guests. A long-term objective is to reach a point in time in which every CEO of major Madison, Wisconsin corporations will have addressed TEMPO.
We still have some work to do. Our speakers program must continue to meet our own information and intellectual needs as well as give us a “drawing card” to attract prominent guests. To the extent we can position TEMPO as a platform for news events, we must attempt to do so and thus continue to draw the spotlight to the organization and its membership, both individually and collectively.
4. Membership Involvement
There is a role for each member in projecting TEMPO. We each have an investment in it and the payback is in direct correlation to our own personal involvement. That involvement includes faithful attendance at the monthly meetings, accompanied by influential guests to guarantee a sizable audience for our speakers. It also means promoting TEMPO in our professional lives.
Each of us taking TEMPO seriously, taking advantage of TEMPO’s subtle strategy, enhances our own position and that of our members. In time, our efforts to win acceptability and full partnership will benefit all Madison women.