To the Stars
The year was 1996, and two women entrepreneurs stood at a crossroads. Diane McClelland, owner of a successful brand loyalty consulting business, was frustrated by the many businesses that continued to ignore the purchasing power of women. Suzanne Lackman, a former owner of both a furniture manufacturing and a tool liquidation business, witnessed the discrimination against women that existed in the marketplace and wanted to do something about it. Together, they landed on a solution, and Astra Women’s Business Alliance was born.
From the start, the two wanted to drive real change for women in business. They also knew that the task wouldn’t necessarily be an easy one, which is how they settled on the organization’s name. “Astra” comes from the Latin motto ad astra per aspera, which means “rising to the stars through difficulties.”
In 2000, Astra established its status as a nonprofit and formed an alliance with the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC), the most trusted national organization for women providing certification for women-owned businesses. Today, Astra administers WBENC certification in northern California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana and Alaska, while also working with corporations and women-owned businesses to expand relationships through events, training, and mentoring. Our results-driven programs all share an overarching objective – to help our members thrive and grow.