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WIPL welcomes Bush sisters

Barbara Pierce Bush and Jenna Bush Hager led the opening session of the 2018 Women’s Leadership Conference.

First Sisters: Barbara Pierce Bush and Jenna Bush Hager led the opening session of the 2018 Women’s Leadership Conference.

The eighth annual Women’s Leadership Conference and Celebration of Inspiring Women was a sell-out event this year Feb. 5-6 and filled the Myrtle Beach Convention Center with laughs, inspiration, motivation and even a few tears.

Nearly 800 women attended the conference on Feb. 6 to hear keynote speakers Jenna Hager and Barbara Pierce Bush, author Cara Brookins, Boeing’s Joan Robinson-Berry and NASCAR driver Julia Landauer. The conference is presented by Women in Philanthropy and Leadership (WIPL) at Coastal Carolina University.

The Bush sisters, daughters of former President George W. and First Lady Laura Bush, opened the conference in a casual format, sitting in chairs onstage with CCU First Lady Terri DeCenzo and conference emcee Meghan Miller from WBTW News 13. They talked about their new book, Sisters First, and offered insights into serving others, balancing life and work, and the importance of sisterhood.

“Sisterhood is the reason we wrote the book,” Hager said. “To have women friends who support me, who understand, who listen … it’s this unbelievable empowerment. It’s a broader term for mentorship.”

“Peer mentorship is tremendous,” Bush echoed. “There are days you go to work and think you can’t do this, but there are thousands of us, so we can do this. It makes me dream bigger and work really, really hard.”

Cara Brookins, author of Rise: How a House Built a Family, shared the story of how she and her four children decided they needed to do something big in their lives to change their story and ended up building a two-story, five-bedroom house in nine months—by themselves.

New to the conference this year was a health expo sponsored by Tidelands Health, “Better. Be strong. Be healthy. Be you.” Tidelands served as the health and wellness community partner of the conference.

Two-time NASCAR champion driver Julia Landauer closed the conference with her keynote address, “Can Nice Girls Win (Races)?”

The conference was preceded by the Celebration of Inspiring Women on Feb. 5 that honored CCU alumna and U.S. Olympian Amber Campbell; Horry-Georgetown Technical College President Marilyn Fore; Teen Angels founder Renee Hembree; Boeing South Carolina Vice President and General Manager Joan Robinson-Berry; and Terri Springs Rhodes, wife of former Myrtle Beach Mayor John Rhodes.

WIPL has raised more than $37,000 in scholarships for students during the 2017-18 academic year.

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