Throughout 1980, the various Houston area chapters of the American Business Women's Association gathered at quarterly "Community Meetings" in order to "exercise greater impact" through coordinated organization. In March 1981 these meetings opened to other Houston area women's groups. The overwhelming response of women throughout the city suggested a need to create an "umbrella" organization. From this effort sprang the Federation of Houston Professional Women (FHPW), established in September 1981, and chartered by the state of Texas in 1982. The FHPW would "help professional women serve as a resource to each other and to the community by providing educational, networking, and support group activities to its members, focus on empowering individuals to achieve their goals by addressing general concerns of women in civic, community, personal, and professional pursuits, and unite individuals of our member organizations to promote a place of influence and power." Together, the various groups involved in the Federation would attempt to educate women about the political process to foster activism that would create a more favorable environment for business women in Houston. (General FHPW information is found in Box 1, Folder 7).
As of 1994, the FHPW Foundation, Advisory Board, Executive Board, Board of Directors, several committees, and the voting delegates of the member organizations composed this "organization of organizations." Various prominent personalities from the Houston area sat on the Advisory Board. The Board of Directors included the Executive Board and the Directors of the various committees; the number and names of the committees have varied over the years. Until 1993, the FHPW published its news in the Federation Exchange. After 1993, the newsletter became known as the Federation Focus. A bulk mailing, the Delegate Digest, informed delegates of upcoming activities. Delegates kept their organizations informed about FHPW activities, and had voting privileges in Federation decisions.
Initially, the Federation planned four major activities: quarterly general meetings, a spring event, an annual awards banquet, and various workshops throughout the year. As the organization grew, the executive body and number of meetings multiplied. The FHPW continued to hold quarterly meetings open to all women involved in the Federation, as well as annual Delegate Updates to inform new voting delegates about their responsibilities and the FHPW's activities. The Executive Board and Board of Directors met monthly, as did several committees. The Awards Banquets in the autumn of each year continue to honor prominent and active women in Houston's business community. The Federation continues its educational outreach not only through workshops, but also through community service and the sponsorship of conferences promoting women in business and politics.
The FHPW's Educational Foundation was planned in 1993 with a mission to award scholarships and gifts to aid and advance the education and knowledge of women in the community. FHPWEF received tax-exempt status 501(c)3 in 1994 and as a charitable foundation is able to receive funds from contributions by individuals or member organizations, gifts, and special fundraisers. The Educational Foundation's Governing Board includes the FHPW's current president and president-elect. Five additional members are nominated by a committee consisting of the Educational Foundation's current president and the FHPW's current president and immediate past president. The Educational Foundation's voting body is the Governing Board and the FHPW Board of Directors.