Jenna Bush Hager is, of course, one of the darling fraternal twin daughters of former President George W. Bush and former first lady Laura Bush. Even though she lives and works in New York City, we kind of still think of her as a Dallas gal, right? I will always remember the twins from their stint at The Hockaday School, before their dad became governor of Texas and the family moved to Austin.
Now grown and prolific women in their own right, Jenna and her twin, Barbara, have (among other amazing things) written a terrific book called Sisters First: Stories From Our Wild & Wonderful Life. The twins teased the book here in late February at a gala event for 4Word, an organization that connects, leads and supports women in the workplace. (4Word was founded by women in commercial real estate — stay tuned.)
In their book, Jenna and Barbara, each named after their grandmothers, and each thrust into the public eye just as they landed in college, discuss the valleys and peaks of carrying the Bush surname. They reflect on their “way normal” upbringing in Midland, Texas, where their maternal grandfather was a home builder, to stories from White House life; how they thought everyone’s grandfathers had presidential inaugurations; where they were and what happened on 9/11; life with the Secret Service; Jenna bemoaning the loss of anonymity as a charter school teacher during her father’s term, and Barbara telling us how her dad texts her daily, and cheered her through a recent break-up.
Jenna is a contributing correspondent on NBC’s Today show and an editor-at-large for Southern Living. She is also the author of The New York Times best seller Ana’s Story: A Journey of Hope, which she wrote after traveling to Latin American in 2006 as an intern with UNICEF.
Jenna will be in Dallas April 11, as featured speaker at the Park Cities Historic and Preservation Society’s Distinguished Speaker Luncheon, which is heavy on real estate this year. Lucinda Buford, Realtor extraordinaire at Briggs Freeman Sotheby’s, is president of PCHPS. Allie Beth Allman & Associates is presenting sponsor. Capital Distributing, Lucinda Buford and Tessa Mosteller, and Briggs Freeman Sotheby’s, are home sponsors, and Highland Park Village, William Briggs Architect, Venise and Larry Stuart are Legacy Sponsors.
So what is Jenna going to talk about?
“Preservation is really important! My mom is passionate about it, and I think we need to protect our beautiful country’s heritage and culture. The Park Cities Historic and Preservation Society does it so well,” Jenna told me in a recent phone interview.
“The Park Cities is one of the most beautiful neighborhoods in our country,” she added. “I love that this organization is trying to keep it that way, so that my kids can enjoy it, too. I drove past a lot of those houses as a little girl!”
Jenna says her grandpa was a homebuilder from Midland, “so an appreciation of architecture has been in my family a long time.”
I mentioned that I loved hearing the girls talk about their new book at the 4Word event, and Jena says she will talk about Sisters First, too, at the April 11 luncheon.
“We wrote Sisters First to encourage people to come together and to feel brave,” she said. “A lot of the stories in the book took place in Texas, where we grew up.”
But Dallas is such a tear-down city. What, I asked, can we do to improve and perhaps encourage preservation?
“We should always appreciate architecture, as we need to appreciate all the things that have come before,” Jenna said. “Dallas, of course, has done an incredible job with our new arts districts and museums — all my friends from New York City want to come here to see our museums and concert halls, but we do need to take care of our heritage.”
Dallas is getting a reputation, too, she says, for being quite a midcentury modern mecca. This should be no surprise, given the plethora of midcentury modern homes from the Disney Streets to JuNel homes in East Dallas. Jenna says her own apartment is a mix of midcentury modern furniture, “that was either my mom’s or was purchased at the modern stores in Dallas.” Her home is also loaded with Texas art.
Not surprising, considering most of her childhood was spent in Dallas and in the Park Cities.
“I have so many wonderful memories of hanging out with friends in Highland Park Village,” says Jenna, “and lot of what made Dallas such a wonderful place to grow up was this really strong, incredible sense of community.”
You can feel right at home anyplace in the City of Dallas.
Tickets for the Wednesday, April 11, 2018 luncheon at Brook Hollow Country Club are on sale starting at $150 each. Patron single seating starts at $300 each and includes a Patron Party invitation. Other levels include more benefits. Sponsorships and table underwriting are available beginning at $1,500 up to $10,000. Check the website for updates: http://www.pchps.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org for sponsorship forms.