Career spanning two decades with global leadership and c-suite roles? Check.
Managing Partner in a dream firm? Check.
Board Chair for 4word? Check.
With 4word’s announcement of new Board Chair Kelly McDermott, we decided to find out more about her. Who is this 4word woman? What are the dreams behind the titles?
Kelly grew up moving every couple of years for her dad’s job. Her family was Catholic, and she went through the motions of church attendance but in her heart she longed for more. At the age of 24, Kelly had been transferred from New York to Texas as an up-and-coming manager and this is what happened, “The mall was closed, and the church was open. It was a Jubilation type church. It seemed very weird compared to my Catholic upbringing and I had a curious fascination.”
Looking for companionship, Kelly saw a notice for a weekly Bible study with other young people in the community where she was living, so she decided to go and meet people. For several months, she kept going to the study and “went to mass and the weird church.” After a while, she was the only one attending the study, besides the leader, and finally, on December 7, 1987 she told him she was ready to make the decision to invite Christ into her life. After years of punching the religion clock, Kelly found new life and would never turn back.
Through a series of successes, Kelly poured herself into her career. One day, she looked up and realized, “All of my friends got married and had families. I don’t have that.” Kelly felt lonely and isolated. She longed for a companion to share her life with. Kelly reflects on the pain of that…”The hopefulness and expectation of being with someone. Sharing experiences. Doing life with someone was missing so I medicate with work. Work never rejects me. There’s no doubt in my 30’s I went all out and threw everything into the career. It rewarded me…but not with a family.”
Kelly found sanctuary in Christ, but “You are supposed to be part of a family. I hated holidays the most because that’s when everyone is with their families. I always set up business trips to avoid being home alone on the holidays. It’s not Christmas in China. They don’t celebrate the Fourth of July in Italy, so I will take the assignments nobody wants and they can be with their families.”
Kelly met Melody Dulin at church and she noticed her loneliness and invited her to spend Thanksgiving with her family. Kelly declined. After all, she was a strong, independent woman. Melody was persistent and said God told her to invite me. She even had her mother call to invite Kelly to the family Thanksgiving gathering. (Sneaky, right?!) Since Kelly had lost her mother some time earlier, the final words that persuaded Kelly to relent were, “What would your mother want you to do?” Kelly went. She immediately loved this family, but didn’t want to be a bother to ALL of them. She knew it was awkward having someone outside their family there during private holiday times. The invitation came again at Christmas. Kelly declined. The family insisted, “We’re not opening any presents until you come.” How could she make the children wait? “We want you at every family event. There’s nothing you can do to make us go away.”
Today, Kelly calls these extraordinary, righteous, Godly people her holy family. “They are a gift. Whatever God gives is holy. They’ve been there for me, everyone of them, Jack and Sharon, Melody and Steve, Kassie and Kristin. They’re my family.” What made that Christmas and invitation to be part of their family even more personal, was they didn’t know at the time, Kelly’s birthday is on Christmas.
Later, when asked why she was so adamant about wanting to include Kelly in her family, Melody said God told her to do it. God gave her this scripture:
God sets the solitary in families. Psalm 68:6
“You have to be obedient to what God tells you to do. We’ll never leave you.” And that was that. Kelly now enjoys being seated at their family table at birthdays, weddings and holidays. “To this day,” Kelly says, “if something comes up and I need prayer, that’s who I call…my holy family.”
Kelly’s story is a reflection of our adoption into God’s family. We are lost and alone without faith, searching for what is missing, but confused and afraid to take steps that might be embarrassing. Then one day, we obey the call of Jesus. We are adopted into His family with the full rights of heirs of His kingdom. We are daughters of the King, and nothing we can do can dissuade His love for us. Today Kelly is standing on the promises of God that one day she will be married. Kelly’s holy family and friends, new and old are praying with her and for her that the man of her dreams will invite her to build the life God promised her years ago.
He will neither fail you nor abandon you. (Deuteronomy 31:6).
These days, Kelly is finding fulfillment in her work with AdviSoar, whose vision is to help good people, do great things. “I’m trying not to travel as much…maybe 10 days a month.” She offers her expertise and experience to help grow people and organizations into strong, effective leaders. “I feel the best when my clients and mentees achieve their vision and mission. My work is my worship.”
She was invited as an honored guest to one of her client’s weddings. He announced to all, “I wouldn’t have had the professional success or be here married today if Kelly hadn’t turned me into the man I am now.”
Kelly says, “To see him in that zone was wonderful. He didn’t have to acknowledge me. For him, the fruit of business success came fast, but the personal life was slower. When I see people achieve their goals and dreams, it moves my heart.”
Kelly’s business philosophy comes from the four pillars of Jesus’ ministry development:
- Favor with God
- Favor with man
Jesus grew in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and with man, (Luke 2:52).
As she takes on the role of Board Chair for 4word, Kelly has dreams to propel the organization even further into its position as the go-to resource for professional Christian women.
“I believe that this affiliation of women should expand and together we will grow in personal and professional leadership and influence. We will connect, lead and support one another as we grow in faith, family and friendships and our careers. I share the global vision to develop Christian character to where it’s a coveted thing. I want the world to think, “4word women? If you could hire them, it would be a great advantage. There’s an excellence about their work, their character, and their faith. If you really want to find out about mentoring, go to 4word. If you want to find out how to lead a Godly professional life, go to 4word. If you want friends who are like minded to do life with, go to 4word.”
Kelly’s journey to 4word is nothing short of a miracle. Going from someone who wasn’t quite sure of her faith, to dealing with personal loneliness, to finding family and community perfectly exemplifies the paths of many 4word women. We are excited and blessed to have Kelly on 4word’s board and are eager to see how God uses her to advance our mission and see more women across the country (and world!) impacted by 4word.
Have you had a journey similar to Kelly’s? What significant events/people have helped shape and mold who you are today?
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An admired and respected business executive, Kelly McDermott has a 30 year accomplished record in building new lines of business and significantly improving corporate margins. She has been responsible for leading high impact teams at some of the world’s leading firms such as Bristol-Myers Squibb, Western International Media, Sprint and EDS.
Kelly successfully developed, launched and managed a global revenue leadership program that improved the skills and performance of client and business executives. She and her elite team of consultants were the driving force behind developing thousands of leaders in 45 countries, which resulted in 5 consecutive years of strong revenue growth.
Kelly is an astute strategist with remarkable insight and clarity about what it takes to be successful. She has lead strategy development initiatives in several companies and has a demonstrated track record in the successful development and implementation of key business strategies in a variety of industries. She is a highly engaging speaker and facilitator that helps individuals link learning and new ideas with real world application. Her business acumen and ability to synthesize practical experience with a fresh outlook make for a rewarding and challenging exchange. She and her partners offer a program on how to sell large deals and provide executive coaching for leaders around the globe.