Ladies Who Lead - The top 3 things we learned from Spinsters Professional Development



One of my favorite parts of Spinsters is the opportunity to network with accomplished women across every industry at all different points in their careers. When I first joined the organization, I served on our professional development committee to help plan events for our members to connect with one another and grow in their careers. Participating in the Committee made me fall in love with Spinsters even more than I already had. I’ve always been passionate about professional development (so much so I even work at LinkedIn!), so I jumped at the chance to integrate it into the Spinsters community.

We wanted to continue to grow the supportive community within Spinsters where women can learn, share, and embolden each other professionally.
— Ellyn Gray and Linda Loi, Professional Development Co-Chairs

Now in its third year, the professional development committee continues to grow and put on more skill-building events for our members and the Bay Area community to enjoy. This year’s co-chairs, Ellyn and Linda, had a vision going into each professional development event this year; “We wanted to continue to grow the supportive community within Spinsters where women can learn, share, and embolden each other professionally. We decided to host a range of different kinds of events, from intimate book clubs and Q&As to larger, impactful panels and workshops.”

This year, professional development took on a whole new challenge - a large format panel open to the public to hear from a group of accomplished ladies who lead. Four inspiring women reaching impressive heights in their careers participated in the panel: Samantha Von Hoene, Chief Legal Officer at; Nafy Flatley, Founder of TERANGA; Karen Walker, former Chief Accounting Officer at Pandora; and Heather Burns, Strategy Director at Walmart. They came together to discuss what they learned throughout their professional journeys so far and offer advice to our members. One piece of advice that really resonated with the attendees came from Karen Walker. It’s our first take away from professional development this year:

  1. Don’t overly prescript your path - be open to unforeseen opportunities that cross your path, and keep in touch with people from different phases of your career to maintain your network.

Hearing this from Karen, someone who achieved real professional success by following this advice herself, was liberating. Too often in pursuit of success, we compare ourselves to others or think we need to be somewhere by now that we are not. It’s inspiring to know that by staying open and being intentional about maintaining your network, that you can succeed in ways you never thought possible.

For any aspiring entrepreneurs out there, you’ll want to know more about the the Inspiring Side Hustles event the Committee hosted for Spinsters members only. The small group workshop featured two Spinsters alumnae, Rachel Connors and Madeline Maguire, who turned their passion projects into full-fledged careers. Rachel is the founder of Yellow Leaf Hammocks which sells hand woven hammocks with a positive social impact. (Psst, their hammocks are on Oprah’s favorite things!) Madeline is the founder of Baby Savvy Co., a private postpartum doula practice empowering new parents.

Spinsters alumnae, Rachel Connors (left) and Madeline Maguire (right)

Spinsters alumnae, Rachel Connors (left) and Madeline Maguire (right)

Each Spinnie entrepreneur shared their story, how they took calculated risks, what struggles they encountered (and continue to surmount in their businesses) and identified the most valuable lessons they’ve learned both personally and professionally as a result of striking out on their own ventures. As a group, we then discussed a design thinking strategy championed by Tom Chi’s design thinking strategy called rapid prototyping. What Maddie and Rachel shared tied in perfectly with what we learned about rapid prototyping, which is a technique of rapidly developing and testing new ideas to maximize the rate of learning and grow quickly. It was inspiring to consider how we could apply this in many aspects of our lives and see how these entrepreneurs employed it to achieve hard-earned success in their new businesses. This realization leads to our second key takeaway of the year:

2. Allow yourself to fail fast and fail forward. Learn faster to quickly reach your success.

Spinsters at our Inspiring Side Hustles workshop

Spinsters at our Inspiring Side Hustles workshop

Spinsters at our Professional Development bookclub potluck

Spinsters at our Professional Development bookclub potluck

In addition to events where we have the chance to engage with badass female professionals outside of our active Spinsters membership, the Committee also puts on quarterly events where our members can come together and connect. One of the most popular gatherings is our quarterly book club, where Spinnies connect over a bottle of wine and discuss their thoughts on the latest book club pick. Most recently we read, Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-lived, Joyful Life, by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans.The group reflected on design thinking strategies and grappled with how we go about exploring our interests without feeling pigeoned-holed into defining an exact passion. From that we discovered our third take away from the year:

3. Implement design thinking strategies and look at situations from a new point of view to help you design a life that makes you your happiest self.

Navigating your career can be stressful and confusing to say the least! On the days where I’m on the border of having a breakdown and questioning my career goals, I am so thankful I have the women in this organization to lean on. They have been there countless times to offer advice on a problem I’m dealing with at the office, to make an introduction, or to lend a listening ear when I just need to vent. That camaraderie of female professionals empowering one another is something I feel lucky to have experienced because of the Spinsters of San Francisco and I hope that you have an opportunity to experience yourself as well.

Interested in learning about joining Spinsters and more of our professional development events? Join us at our prospective new member happy hour at Off the Grid at Fort Mason this Friday, June 14th! There, you can ask questions and learn more about our membership process.

Redefining what it means to be a Spinster


Lauren Drewniany


Cheers to the new year, Spinsters!


2018 marked the 89th year for the Spinsters of San Francisco. While the organization has evolved over the last 89 years, one thing remains constant - our dedication to bringing together amazing young women in the Bay Area.


Spinsters members gather for a meeting and a phone bank to fundraise for KQED in the early 90s


Before I bring you up to speed on where the organization is going, let’s take a moment to look back on how we got started. The Spinsters of San Francisco came to be on November, 6 1929 with the very first meeting taking place at the de Young house, at 1919 California Street. At that point, the Bachelors of San Francisco had already formed and the young women of the Bay Area were eager to develop an organization of their own.

Since that day, the Spinsters of San Francisco has been a place for young women to come together and support one another socially and professionally while making a positive impact on our community.


On the left, Spinsters members put on a charity benefit fashion show in the 90s. On the right, today’s Spinsters raise funds at our annual Legacy Benefit in the Swig Suite at the Fairmont, San Francisco.


So what exactly is it about Spinsters that has helped this group stay an important and thriving community in the Bay Area for so many years? The best people to speak to that are our new members who joined Spinsters last summer.

When asked why she was interested in becoming a part of Spinsters, Karen Datangel shared,


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I went through a lot personally and professionally within the last year and was looking to get more involved socially and in my community. I love that Spinsters holds so many fun events throughout the year and is also deeply involved in charity work. It was perfect for me because it was the best of both worlds! I simply love surrounding myself with amazing women who love to have fun, but also care about giving back to the world and advancing themselves professionally.

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Karen Datangel is a first year member of Spinsters.


Another new member, Amy Tam, said she was drawn to Spinsters because she was seeking to build a strong community of driven women within the San Francisco Bay Area.


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Since joining Spinsters, I’ve met a lot of amazing, career oriented women.


Amy Tam is a first year member of Spinsters and our talented resident photographer.


For me (Lauren) personally, I joined Spinsters because I wanted to be a part of a group of women who would challenge me and introduce me to new ways of thinking. I am so glad I did! The women I have met in Spinsters continually inspire me with all that they accomplish and their diverse range of interests. I can confidently say I am a more open minded and well-rounded individual because of Spinsters.

With that said, no matter what your interests or goals are, Spinsters has something for you. I believe that is why Spinsters continues to attract so many amazing women throughout the years because everyone can find a way to advance themselves personally, professionally, socially, philanthropically or however else they wish in this organization. Because of this we used our 89th year as an opportunity to refresh our brand to convey who Spinsters are today. Check out a brief video of our journey to our new brand below!


Learn about our journey to SOSF's new visual brand.


Interested in redefining what it means to be a Spinster? Join us at our Prospective New Member Info Session on January 31st. There, you can ask questions and learn more about our membership process.

We cannot wait to embark on our upcoming 90th year as an organization, and we hope you’ll join us in making it Spinsters’ most impactful and unforgettable year yet!

What Spinsters are Thankful for this Year: Good Food and an Inspiring Partnership


Lauren Drewniany

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As we get ready to celebrate Thanksgiving with our friends and loved ones, the Spinsters of San Francisco (SOSF) want to take a moment to share what we are thankful for this year: our nonprofit partner La Cocina.


La Cocina is a nonprofit business incubator working with talented, working class food entrepreneurs who are predominantly women from communities of color and immigrant communities. SOSF could not be more thankful for the opportunity to support a nonprofit that closely aligns with our core value, empowering women. In addition to volunteering at fun-filled La Cocina events and tasting dishes from La Cocina’s chefs, our partnership has also provided a unique opportunity for members of SOSF to grow individually through 1:1 volunteer to entrepreneur matches. Through La Cocina’s 1:1 mentorship volunteering program, Spinsters are able to contribute their professional skills to aspiring food entrepreneurs as they develop their businesses concepts.


As Thanksgiving is often a time to reflect on the past year, we’d like to share some of our favorite moments volunteering with La Cocina.


First up, La Cocina’s annual Street Food Festival. Did you know that each year, 30+ of the Bay Area’s most talented food entrepreneurs gather on one day to showcase the most delicious array of dishes in the largest street food fest in San Francisco? At the festival, Spinsters got the chance to meet and support the talented entrepreneurs La Cocina serves (and try several delicious dishes throughout the day!). The event celebrated and promoted women, immigrant and POC-owned food businesses. Spinsters showed up in full force to volunteer as La Cocina brand ambassadors, soliciting donations and getting our hands dirty in everything from pre-event set-up, to working the bar and breaking down at the end of the event. The chefs’ passion for their food was contagious. And the FOOD! From true southern style fried chicken to nepalese momo dumplings to arabic flatbreads to boozy cheesecake, Spinsters left with hearts (and stomachs) full, grateful to take part in the festival.


Our second volunteer opportunity was at La Cocina’s F&B: Voices from the Kitchen. This event provided a platform for La Cocina Chefs to tell their own stories live on stage alongside some of the food industry’s most beloved and respected writers and chefs. Not only did Spinsters have the chance to listen to incredible stories, but the event also included a roaming cocktail hour that featured delicious bites from the chefs of La Cocina. In addition to acquainting ourselves with the different La Cocina chefs, Spinsters could be found checking in attendees, sharing information on how to become a La Cocina member, and testing out our bartending skills.


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“From my first introduction to the Spinsters volunteer network, I knew we were in for an exciting year ahead. Every Spinster I’ve met has been full of energy, kindness and an eagerness to make her community a better place. La Cocina is grateful for the opportunity to leverage the support of this talented group of women in service of greater equity and economic opportunity for everyone,” says La Cocina’s Development and Communications Manager, Jessica Mataka.

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Spinsters volunteers with Jessica Mataka


Coming up next, Spinsters and La Cocina will put on our elf hats to take on the holidays by assembling La Cocina’s holiday gift boxes and helping run their annual Tamalada, a tamale making class where guests leave with tamales to bring home to share with their families over the holidays. Interested in purchasing a La Cocina Gift Box for a loved one? Check out their gift box options ranging from $35-$100 on their online store. 100% of your purchase supports the growth of immigrant and women-owned businesses.

We can’t wait to see all that is in store for our partnership in 2019 (like our upcoming Legacy Benefit fundraiser for La Cocina at the Fairmont on February 23rd!) and we look forward to sharing those moments with you.

Wishing you and yours a very happy and healthy holiday season from all the women of Spinsters of San Francisco.


Psst, interested in supporting La Cocina? Get involved by signing up to become a member, purchasing a La Cocina gift box for friends and family over the holidays or signing up to volunteer 1:1 with a La Cocina business owner!