She’s Proof That the More You Put In, the More You Get Out of NAWBO
A self-proclaimed introvert, Sandy Clitter is quick to explain that she’s not a networking person. The idea of going to a large event or being asked to mingle with a room full of strangers used to keep her up at night. But when she was introduced to NAWBO 13 years ago, her life completely changed. And now, after more than a decade of service and building lasting relationships, Sandy is being honored as the 2021 NAWBO Member of the Year.
In 2008, a fateful phone call would bring Sandy together with Mary Payne, who invited her to attend a NAWBO Philadelphia meeting. Despite trepidation about not knowing anyone, Sandy “put on her big girl pants” and attended. She was surprised by what she found: a group of women gathered around a table speaking honestly about the struggles of owning a business during the recession. As owner of Your Tech Tamer, a data flow and business management consultancy, their experiences resonated deeply with Sandy. “They were so kind, warm, welcoming. They made me feel at home,” she says. “I thought ‘These women have got it together,’ and I wanted to get to know them better. So I joined NAWBO.”
Soon after becoming a member of the NAWBO Philadelphia chapter, Sandy was given some sage advice that she still follows today: the more you participate, the more you will get out of it. She started with baby steps, joining her chapter’s Technology Committee. Since then, she has taken on more leadership roles, including Chairperson of the Philly Satellite Meeting Committee, Chapter Treasurer, 501(c)3 Treasurer, National President’s Assembly Steering Committee member, National Technology Committee member and has served on the local and National Nominating Committees, to name a few.
After attending her first National Women’s Business Conference in 2009, Sandy was hooked and has attended every year (except one) since joining. “I saw a huge number of women just like the wonderful women who I met locally,” she shares. “Everywhere I look, women are kind, gracious, warm and it just made me want to do more,” she says. “The more I went, the more women I met. I always say that you’re only a stranger in any NAWBO room the very first day. NAWBO women are my sisters. They are the people who understand what I’m going through.”
Through NAWBO, Sandy has also found a passion for advocacy for women business owners and micro-businesses. Shortly after COVID hit the United States, Sandy felt empowered to advocate for legislation on behalf of small business owners. “We were raising our collective voices through that time and it made many people in Washington, DC realize micro-businesses and women-owned business are a massive sector of our economy. It’s brought a once-in-a-lifetime kind of awareness to the needs of micro-businesses,” she says.
As a result of her passion for advocacy, Sandy’s voice has been heard at some of the highest levels in Washington, DC. Case in point: through a series of relationships she’s built over the years with local congresspersons, Sandy was proud to learn that President Biden made a visit to one of her client’s offices shortly after being elected. “I don’t know anyone else who has had the President of the United States in their office—that was really cool! That speaks to the reach that NAWBO has gained,” Sandy says.
When asked about what the Member of the Year award honor means to her, Sandy is still in shock. “It makes me want to cry. It says that I’ve made a difference in others’ lives, but I don’t think I could come close to the difference that they’ve made in mine. I am humbled beyond belief,” she says. “The women in NAWBO are so incredible and give so much to this organization. To be singled out is staggering.”