The International Women’s Club of Barcelona has been meeting on a continuous basis since June 6, 1955. It was organized as the American Women’s Club of Barcelona and initially open to American women and those married to Americans. Mrs. J. A. Clarke was elected the first President by a membership of about a dozen women. In those days, women identified themselves as Mrs. (insert husband’s name) in the membership directory. The soon-to-be signature coffees took place in a private room at the Hotel Ritz and were decidedly more formal than today.
In the first year, club members hosted the following activities and events:
- Welcome tea for wives of U.S. naval officers
- Fashion show fundraiser
- Card party fundraiser
- Torres wine cellar tour
- Model dairy farm trip in the town of Lerida
- Latin American art lecture
- Spanish literature study group
- Thanksgiving Day dinner and dance
- Children’s Christmas Party
Many of our founding members volunteered weekly at the Foreign Colonies Hospital. A publication to assist newcomers —Tips on Barcelona— was printed and included information on local customs and shop recommendations.
As the decades progressed, the club became less formal. Women began to refer to themselves by first names. And, as photographs of events changed from black-and-white to color, the wearing of hats disappeared. The club opened its membership beyond Americans and was renamed the International Women’s Club of Barcelona.
Despite changes in fashion and customs over the many years of the club, our commitment to social, cultural, and charitable activities remains intact. Members are provided with a social network, ready access to the myriad of cultural events taking place in Barcelona, and opportunities to raise money to help others.
Acting President – Brenda Wright
Born in the UK, Brenda comes from a background in business education, having taught business skills to University students and Business Managers in ESADE, Barcelona, for over 30 years. She has worked in Germany, Brussels, Kazakhstan, and Spain. A member of the International Women’s club since the mid-eighties, Brenda organized local and international cultural events, gave courses on Antique collecting and Applied Arts, Cultural Integration, and twice served as President. Speaking both Spanish and Catalan, with two children and five grandchildren, she has helped many members with relocation challenges and has coordinated fund raising for the club, particularly for women and children at risk. She enjoys the long term friendships she has made through the IWC, welcoming new members to the club and the city, helping them to settle and make friends here.
Treasurer – Maureen Callahan
Maureen came to Barcelona in 1975 with her British husband who worked for Price Waterhouse. Her son and daughter were born here. She’s held a variety of administrative roles— for an English book distributor, two international companies specializing in pig genetics, and a global consultancy firm doing regulatory work for the EU. Maureen is now retired and has two small granddaughters living near her in Sant Cugat.
Philanthropy Chair – Karen Rubin
The Club likes to give back to the community that has embraced it. Over the years they have had fundraisers and made numerous donations to a number of worthy local causes.
Membership Coordinator – Sue Handy
Sue has now taken on the roll of Membership Coordinator. She first came to Barcelona 2008 with her husband’s company, and now they have retired here.
Her career has been in the volunteer world, holding many positions with Girl Scouts in the US as well as globally. Her current position with Girl Scouts is to raise money to provide opportunities for young women to have global experiences. She has served on boards of Girl Scouts of Eastern Carolina and Friends of Our Cabana.
We are a group of approximately 100 women who communicate in English. We come from places as varied as South Africa and Norway with members from Catalonia, United Kingdom, United States, Canada, Germany, and more. We are intellectually curious women with backgrounds in professions that include artists, business owners, consultants, teachers, volunteers, and writers.
We count ourselves fortunate to live in Barcelona. Together we learn about and enjoy the many things available in the city. Most of us know what it’s like to be a newcomer in a foreign place. Our members want to find new friends and help others integrate into the city.