The journey of 4word, an organization focused on creating a global community of women in the workplace, has grown from an initial group in Portland, Oregon to a 23-city support network all over the globe.
The digital mentorship program reaches more than 125,000 women per year, and even attracted the eyes of former President George W. Bush’s twin daughters, Barbara and Jenna.
The twins were in Dallas on Feb. 24 in support of 4word’s third annual gala and dinner, where they spoke, along with 4word mentors, supporters and officials, about the importance of community in the workplace.
The gala also featured a silent auction with 100 percent of the proceeds going to 4word. By evening’s end, more than $300,000 had been raised.
“I think the love we have through sisterhood, whether through an actual sister or just friendship, is innate in humans,” Jenna Bush-Hager said. “Love is just so much easier. We’ve felt so lucky to have each other as sisters for our entire lives, and to always have that support system has meant everything.”
Jenna, an NBC correspondent on The Today Show and has two children, while Barbara is the president of Global Health Corps, a nonprofit that provides resources and opportunities for young professionals to fight for health equity. Both 36, the Bush sisters are working on a children’s book, and have already published a book together, Sisters First, in 2017.
“It’s magical to have a woman partner to go through life with,” said Barbara Bush.
The Bushes were introduced to 4word by their mother, former First Lady Laura Bush, and her senior advisor, Charity Wallace. Wallace is on the 4word Advisory Board and connected the sisters with Diane Paddison, the founder and president of 4word.
[pullquote-left]““I think the love we have through sisterhood, whether through an actual sister or just friendship, is innate in humans.” -Jenna Bush-Hager”[/pullquote-left]
“I thought it would be wonderful to have [the Bush sisters] speak and show everyone how it’s extremely possible for young women to advance in the workplace and anywhere they want,” Wallace said. “Women in the workplace need each other right now more than ever, and 4word is such an important support group.”
As 4word has grown, so have the women mentors and small group members that are the lifeblood of the organization. Members connect through monthly lunch meetings, Bible and book studies, and after-work events.
Paddison, a Harvard MBA graduate and former global executive of two Fortune 500 companies, said the growth she’s seen in women affiliated with 4word has been “astronomical.”
“We want women to reach their potential with confidence,” she said. “Investing in their lives and investing in mentorship is what matters.”
Paddison is also especially proud of 4word’s work abroad, particularly in Uganda.
With 4word’s involvement, opportunities for women in Uganda to work and go to college have skyrocketed. Since 4word began working in the African country, three times as many women have either entered the workforce or gone to college, Paddison said.