Cindy Tortorici on Creating Connection for Women in Business

cindy tortorici the link guest speaker

After a 25-year corporate career as a business strategist and executive for big brands Nike Inc., Saks Fifth Avenue, and May Company, Cindy Tortorici created The Link For Women in March 2004.

Based in Portland, OR, “The Link” has become a valuable resource for local businesswomen. Through guest speaker events, networking luncheons, a book club, and more, members get valuable business support while building their professional networks.

Cindy Tortorici The Link for Women Portland NetworkingCindy acts as a business consultant, executive coach, connector, and mentor to her network. As women create their vision and cultivate an influential voice in order to leverage their community to reach their goals, The Link is a safe place to cultivate an influential voice and gain access to a community of experts, peers, and mentors.

Cindy’s driving force is bringing people together. At a Link event, one can often overhear Cindy advising two strangers, “You should know each other.” And with that, partnerships and even friendships are born.

How did you start this business?
Functionally, we started as Insider’s Connection, my sister-in-law’s project to empower women through knowledge. She started Insider’s Connection in the Bay Area in 2003 and the concept inspired me.

After asking many women in the area about the concept, we had our first event in March 2004 as Insider’s Connection. Four months later on July 23, 2004, we launched as The Link for Women with a mission to connect and mentor women.

What inspired you to create The Link?
What I knew for sure at the time and, I find, continues today is:

  • Women want to connect with other stimulating women,
  • There is no equivalent to the “Old Boys’ Network” for women,
  • It is difficult to search for experts to acquire information for seamless change, knowledge, and personal growth,
  • In a safe, supportive atmosphere, women are more likely to investigate new ideas and topics, and
  • There are fantastic women who deserve to be spotlighted as role models.

I want to help women flourish, and not be alone in the process of their journey.

How do you see women changing the game in business?
At our best we add a diverse point of view and perspective to the discussion.

How has your career path informed the way this business came together?
I have been lucky in my career in that I worked for great companies and was often mentored and sponsored along the way.

You worked for huge, global corporations before starting The Link. What has been the biggest challenge going from BIG to startup?
Not being well-funded. Managing all aspects of the company from scratch and on my own… but it’s also liberating!

What are you most proud of about The Link’s community?
We have been able to create the foundation of a professional “Girls’ Club” in Portland. The women that have aligned with The Link wish to lend a hand to other women to help them flourish and thrive!

What is the biggest challenge?
Creating unique ways for women to connect.

You seem to meet that challenge! Your events and the content are constantly developing. 
Over the last 12 years, we have explored the concepts of Courage, Mindfulness, Mentoring, and Leadership, Women’s Health, Global Events, and Sex in Your Prime, among others. We have had 160 events, touched over 7,500 people, and have countless stories of how these women have connected with others.

Our speaker series was created in order to share the stories of men and women we admire in the community. Their goals, obstacles, successes, and what they have learned along the way.

You bring in remarkable speakers for your events. How do you select content for your events – what are you looking for in a speaker?
I am always looking for someone who has a unique message that will help the women of The Link to learn something new and be inspired.

Was there a time you wanted to give up? What moved you through it?
The recession and my breast cancer gave me pause. The women of The Link keep me engaged. There are so many bright, accomplished women and men who care about helping women to flourish. They all inspire me.

Who has been a game-changing influence in your career?
So many people! But specific to The Link, Carole Hyatt and Judith Glaser. And my husband John.

Who are “your people” – who do you want in your community?
Smart, generous people of all ages who want to continually learn something new and be inspired.

Learn more about Cindy and connect with The Link at

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