Honor and Lean on Your Community

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We want to introduce you to the latest 4word woman to join the 4word family: Debbie MacDonald, Director of Development. Debbie talks with us about her dreams for 4word and how she wants to help you honor your mom this Mother’s Day!

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4word: Tell us about your life before 4word.

Debbie: I grew up in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, so while I’m not an “Okie from Muskogee,” I’m proud to be an Okie nonetheless! After high school, I headed to Oklahoma State where I graduated with a BS in Computer Science and with minors in math and business. I tell folks that I’m really a geek at heart, but so much of the problem solving/analysis that goes into this degree helped to develop the strategic and maximizer strengths in me.  

John and I biking san franciscoI met my husband of thirty seven years, John, at Oklahoma State. Yes, do the math, I was twenty! We began our careers in Dallas, spending seventeen years there before moving to Sugar Land, Texas, for eighteen years. We came back home to Dallas a year ago. I really jumped into my career, first as a consultant in the computer software industry, and then moving into Commercial Real Estate brokerage in 1985.

I spent twenty eight years pursuing my career in real estate, spending much of that time as a senior executive in leasing, management, and marketing. During that part of my career, I had become very involved in many nonprofit women’s organizations as a volunteer, board member, or board president. I have a strong passion for helping other women succeed and loved giving back.    

Boys and John Alamo BowlGod opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”[a] (1 Peter 5:5, NLT)

In 2008, I felt God’s call to leave the corporate world and use the second half of my life giving of my time and talents. Since 2008, I have worked with other ministries and nonprofits, including: Greater Houston Women’s Chamber of Commerce, Lifehouse of Houston (a Christian-based maternity home), and most recently the Junior League of Dallas.

I have had a great “work” life – but nothing can compare to the joy and the “love” of being a mother and wife. I had my first son, Patrick, after John and I had been married ten years, and second son, Kyle, arrived two and a half years later. During the past two years, both of our sons have married lovely and amazing “4word” women, and now John and I are now true empty nesters.

4word: Did you find it difficult to be a working mom?

Debbie: At times, of course, yes. Especially when the boys were younger, I struggled with the question of “Am I doing the right thing? Do I need to be working in the home?” There were times the exhaustion of trying to do it all would take its toll physically and emotionally.

Kyle and I on dance floor at weddingWith that said, I believe every working mother deserves their own personal cheerleader – and I was so blessed to have mine in my husband, who is also my best friend. He knew my passion and energy and encouraged me to continue pursuing my own career dreams. I will never forget his cheerleading when he would say that he wanted our boys to have a role model of a wife and mother who loved life and lived it with gusto – and that this was the type of wife that he hoped our boys would find (which they have!)

While my husband was a great supporter, having a connection with an organization like 4word would have been even more helpful. Nothing about this time was perfect, but it was good and joyful.

"See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!" (1John 3:1a, NIV)

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4word: With Mother’s Day approaching, what are some ways we can honor the moms and “mom figures” in our lives?

Debbie: I will say as a mother, daughter, sister, aunt, friend, mentor – there is nothing that makes me feel more honored than to be thanked sincerely and to be outwardly appreciated.   Sometimes the simple gesture of just telling someone what a difference that you have made in their life makes your day….or your year!

That’s why I helped to create the 4word “Celebrating Mother’s and Mentors” initiative. It blesses so many women in different ways – it blesses 4word with your treasure, it blesses the recipient with words and gifts of affirmation and love, and it blesses the giver (as those can relate, we are always blessed in the giving!).

4word: What led you to 4word?

Gala VIP party Brandi, Kelly diane, debbie, allisonDebbie: I believe God led me to 4word! I attended an event for Commercial Real Estate Women in the Fall 2014, where I had so many friends tell me that I really needed to connect with Diane Paddison and learn more about 4word. Fast forward to Spring 2015 and the 4word Houston Local Group held their launch. The mission and vision immediately resonated with me, and I felt God prompting me to attend. I invited my new daughter-in-law, Katie MacDonald, and was surprised to learn her father was well acquainted with Diane from their days at Oregon State. Shortly thereafter, I had the opportunity to discuss my impending move to Dallas with a previous employer and mentor, Dougal Cameron, who, oh yeah…had attended MBA school at Harvard with Diane.  

Within a couple of days after connecting via email with Diane, we had the opportunity to visit her and Annie while they were in the Houston area….and well, the rest of the story was written. Shortly after arriving in Dallas, Diane asked me to consider being the co-chairman for the first 4word Gala. I immediately accepted! The gala, which took place in February, was sold old before the Christmas holidays and was a huge success, thanks to so many amazing sponsors and volunteers. It was such a blessing for me to have the opportunity to work with 4word on a volunteer basis and get to “know” each of the women behind the organization before moving into a staff role.

4word: Tell us about your new role with 4word and your dreams for 4word’s future.

Lifehouse gala fireplaceDebbie: As the Director of Development, I am ultimately responsible for 4word’s fundraising and revenue generating activities focused on individual, corporate, online, and foundation contributions and grants – I have the most amazing job! I have the ability to partner with other fabulous teammates, lots of volunteers, and great donors and constituents.

My big dream is to create a self-sustainable revenue stream by leveraging our message to both corporations and individuals and creating value propositions that resonate with each.  I am working on several new initiatives intended to drive revenue through corporate sponsorships, the 4word: Member Insider Program, and the Job Connections Board. I dream of meeting our goal of having forty five Local Groups thriving by 2020 – knowing that this means providing the tools and help necessary so that they can do the work of connecting, leading, and supporting women in the workplace to achieve their God-given potential.

I believe God has some big dreams for 4word, and we have already witnessed amazing growth and evolution that could only come from Him in our midst. I pray each day for my strengths and talents to be put to God’s purpose in helping provide the resources for 4word to continue to work toward our vision.

4word: How important is it for professional women to find a community like 4word? What does it benefit them?

Me, Katie, and ChandlerDebbie: God calls us to be in community with other believers! Therefore, how can we not see this as important in our lives and engage with like-minded women with whom we share our challenges as well as our hopes and dreams? How COOL is that! I believe that this 4word community helps build each woman’s own understanding of herself. The more you know yourself and are able to build your own personal trust, the more you can reach out and help others. I had a wonderful coach/mentor whose quote of “you can’t lead others further than you have led yourself” so resonates with me. I just wish that I had the opportunity to have understood this earlier in my career.

More importantly, any relationship/community is built by the intentionality of the effort. I so encourage anyone curious about what benefit they might receive to just get involved! Find a 4word Local Group, connect through a mentoring relationship either as a mentor or mentee, delve into the massive resources of our digital content, or help us connect churches to 4word and create better opportunities for professional Christian women to find a place.

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We are so excited to have Debbie on our team and can’t wait to see how her talents are able to help propel 4word into the future! If you’d like to honor your mom and/or mentor this Mother’s Day, click here to browse the gift options available. (For delivery before Mother’s Day, please place your order by May 1, 2016.)

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Debbie has a vast experience in developing campaign funding strategies for various organizations, including: Alzheimer’s Association, Byron Nelson Golf Tournament, Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW) nationally and locally in Dallas and Houston, Lifehouse of Houston and the Junior League of Richardson. Most recently she served as Co-Chair of the successful First Annual 4Word Gala held in Dallas.  Along the way during her leadership positions in the workplace and with many volunteer organizations, she embraced the importance of coaching and mentoring programs for women and served as a solid role model for her co-workers and volunteers as they juggled the challenges of being a spiritual based, professional woman in today’s world.

After graduating and heading to Dallas, Debbie ended up moving into commercial real estate in Dallas and then Houston – winning numerous awards as a consistent top producer and for outstanding achievement.  She spent her last 12 years as a Senior Vice President with Transwestern in Houston, and a Director/Owner with Cameron Management. Eventually her desire to give back and serve the Lord, led her to non-profit opportunities with Lifehouse of Houston, where she served as the Executive Director for the Christian-based maternity home for homeless young girls in Houston, and Lay Director of Outreach for Christ United Methodist in Sugar Land, Texas.

Debbie graduated from Oklahoma State University with a BS in Computer Science and with minors in Math and Business. She has been married to her husband, John, for almost 37 years and they have two boys, Patrick and Kyle, who are now married and living in Houston and Nashville, respectively.