The International Women’s Forum is a non-profit, non-partisan membership organization based in Washington, D.C. created in 1982. Canada became the second international forum outside of the United States, when it was officially admitted as a Forum and issued letters of patent on October 26, 1995. Founded in Montreal by Vermont Forum member, Patricia Gabel, who became the inaugural President, along with Micheline Bouchard, Diane Bussandri, Mary Larson, Lucie Pépin, Dorothy Reitman, Michèle Thibodeau-Deguire and Mackie Vadacchino, the Canadian Forum was envisioned as an inclusive national organization. When Vancouver became the second chapter of the Canadian Forum in 1998, the governance structure of IWFC was firmly established.
As IWFC continued to expand from its Montreal base, local Chapters of the organization were created in cities and regions across Canada: Toronto (1999), Calgary (2000), Ottawa (2000), Atlantic (2001), Waterloo (2007) and Edmonton (2009). Vancouver chose to leave IWFC in 2007 to become an independent Forum. Nonetheless, the Canadian structure has been adopted by many other international forums: that is, a country-wide federation with a central governance model and one set of by-laws. IWFC has a national Board of Directors with representation from all of the regional and municipal Chapters. IWFC has always nurtured a special relationship with the international organization such that our members have been invited to assume significant roles on the Board of Directors and Leadership Foundation. This has led to the sharing of best practices between IWFC and the International body.