Wanda Frey Joiner: A Short Biography
“I am grateful for all you have done to make our dream come true. The basis of happiness is the love of something outside self and rises superior to all conditions. I know now, as then, we will not fail in our devotion and service to any cause—the rights and liberties for all.” WFJ 1942
This timeless message from Quota International’s founding president, Wanda Frey Joiner, reflects not only her personal life journey and devotion to service but also her dedication to Quota. A pioneer in her day, Wanda—along with the original members of Quota—created a new organization, a place for women to enjoy fellowship and service opportunities while also inspiring confidence.
Born in Odessa, Russia, on September 4, 1882, Wanda immigrated to Buffalo, New York, with her mother and brother after her father’s death. She was nine at the time. Wanda grew up to marry Robert Parks Joiner but was left a widow after only three years of marriage.
The early years were certainly not easy for her. After an extensive business course at Caton’s College in New York, she joined the Buffalo Plate Glass Company in 1902 as a filing clerk and rose to the position of comptroller. In a 1927 newspaper interview, Wanda recalled her early days in business:
“You see, I began at the bottom myself…I hadn’t any influence, no one to push me ahead, and it was perfectly plain to me that if I were ever to be conspicuously successful, it would have to be my own work and efforts, so I settled down to study. I became a billing clerk…and I kept on going from one job to another, until I finally became a member of the board of directors.”
Invited to a special Christmas Kiwanis “ladies’ night” party in 1918, Wanda was inspired by the fellowship and service opportunities available to and enjoyed by men. At that time membership was not available to women. Wanda set to work by contacting other women executives in Buffalo, who were quick to share her enthusiasm, and the dedicated group of five worked quickly to start the first international service club for women in the winter of 1919 with Wanda as Quota’s first president.
In 1918, upon the death of the Buffalo Plate Glass Company’s owner, Wanda handled all liquidation matters and placed over one hundred employees with other companies. Wanda’s care of fellow humans extended throughout her life as did her business acumen.
After a much-deserved yet short rest in California, Wanda was persuaded to return to Buffalo to work for the newly formed Morgan Post Company where she was ultimately elected to the office of president and general manager. It is believed that Wanda was the first woman to hold such a position in the paint and allied trades in the United States and as such was the focus of much media and industry attention. Due to health reasons, however, Wanda eventually resigned her top position at Morgan Post and departed for California. Not one to stay idle long, Wanda started her own company representing several eastern and western paint manufacturers. She remained active in business until 1948, selling her business though retaining partial interest.
Wanda remained dedicated to Quota her entire life—being made the honorary life president in 1921 and continuing active service up until her death in 1968 in Los Angeles. Wanda saw Quota as a club for professional women, one that would learn from the lessons of the past, be relevant for the day, and oriented toward the future. She wanted to found a club that would give women the opportunity to do something worthwhile in service, because she believed that a women could not be fulfilled until she became involved in service to others.
“Be the person who learns to look for the good in every situation and to expect it as a matter of course, and forget that there is any other point of view. To be of help, speak your strong, hopeful, and encouraging word about that which you can commend and let someone else do the criticizing. To be happy, trust God, and have confidence in your fellow man, as neither you, nor I, can enjoy life or bring joy to others by seeing flaws, the difficulties, or the dark side of things. Continue to carry out and achieve your responsibilities by creating confidence within the heart of your own precious self.” WFJ
- To learn more about the Quota International fund named in honor of Quota’s Founder, the Wanda Frey Joiner Development Fund, and how you can donate, click here.
- To view a list of Wanda Frey Joiner Founders, click here.