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.
President – Sue Handy
Sue is on her second stint in Barcelona and as President of the International Women’s Club Barcelona (IWCB). Her career has centered on her work with the Girl Scouts. She’s held various positions with the organization in the U.S. and overseas. She remains engaged in fundraising for Girl Scouts to provide young women with global experiences and is a member of the Olave Baden-Powell Society. A native of Connecticut, Sue spent the majority of her adult life in North and South Carolina. She first arrived in Barcelona 10 years ago when her husband’s job transferred him to the city. Based upon a positive experience with an international women’s club when living in South Korea, Sue reached out to the IWCB after landing in Barcelona. She was warmly welcomed and soon elected to serve as its president. After four years away, Sue and her husband returned to Barcelona in 2018. The IWCB was waiting for her and she stepped back into the president’s role. When she’s not involved in club activities, she enjoys crafts and her Spanish language conversation class.
Vice President – Brenda Wright
Born in the UK, Brenda comes from a background in business education, having taught business skills to Unversity 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.
Fundraising Committee Chair – Jamie Guth
Jamie is a communications expert specializing in how to use communications to change policies and practices, particularly for healthcare in low- and middle-income countries. She worked at the World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland for 12 years, and is now consulting for global organizations. Before that, she oversaw communications and marketing at the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in the U.S., developed an award-winning public television series on health and medicine called The Doctor Is In, and was a television news journalist. Jamie is excited to be in Barcelona (she moved here in January 2018) and to be a member of the IWCB, which is helping her learn the culture and connect to so many other expats who have chosen to move to this beautiful city.
Membership Coordinator – Nancy Pearson
Nancy is a former banker. She worked as a Managing Director for the Bank of America in its Corporate and Investment Banking Group. A Michigan native and University of Michigan alumna, her career took her to Dallas, Chicago, and San Francisco. Afterward, she spent 10 years on Bainbridge Island in Washington and her life centered on community engagement. She was on the Board of the library and a writing organization and helped build Bainbridge Artisan Resource Network, a world-class makerspace. Nancy moved to Barcelona in 2017. She travels extensively with her husband and writes about her experiences in a travel blog. She enjoys the camaraderie of friends developed through the IWCB with similar interests—travel, art, music, history, language learning, etc.
We are a group of approximately 100 women who communicate in English. We come from places as varied as Argentina and South Korea with members from Catalonia, the United Kingdom, 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.