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Plus, she shares how the roots of her next chapter stem all the way back to childhood lessons from mom.

By Rebecca Angel Baer
April 06, 2021
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CNN Anchor Brooke Baldwin headshot
Credit: Courtesy of CNN

Long before she was a daily fixture behind the anchor desk on cable news, Brooke Baldwin, was a little girl, growing up in Atlanta, Georgia, looking up to her mother, Christy Baldwin. "She was my backbone, my support system. She was my person." In a recent phone call with Southern Living, Baldwin explained how her new book, Huddle: How Women Unlock Their Collective Power and indeed the next chapter in her own life story can be traced all the way back home to lessons learned from her mom.

"I've actually never thought of this, but she was part of my huddle. It was my girlfriends and my mom," Baldwin said. Of course, back then, she didn't know what she was experiencing, or that as an adult, huddling would become intentional or her mission. It was just her life. "My dad was out of town. He had a management consultant job for Deloitte, he would be out of town Monday through Friday and I thought it was totally normal as a kid. It'd be just me and my mom and my bratty baby brother," she quipped. "{My mom} was a huge part of my confidence as a child into high school. When I was just the kid who had my hand in everything, whether I was good at it or not, I was just curious," she explained, recognizing that this curiosity in all things was an early indicator of her future career in journalism. But whatever her interests were from team sports to singing in the school choir, "She just encouraged me… She showed up."

Between her pack of childhood girlfriends and her mom, Baldwin, as she put it, "I did grow up with that childhood confidence, swirling around thinking I was turning into Wonder Woman at my Montessori school."

But, as so many of us can relate, somewhere along the way as she entered her twenties, and in the pursuit of her career, she sacrificed connections and friendships and the confidence that came so freely as a child began to wane. As she stated in the book, "It wasn't until I entered the career stage of my life that my confidence began to falter. It isn't lost on me that my entrance into a very male-dominated field might have played a role in this."

It wasn't something that she connected right away. The connection came years later, after covering the 2016 election and the Women's March that followed, "I just felt deep in my bones, I was just so compelled to do more with women."

Baldwin then launched a campaign internally at CNN to create a series that championed the accomplishments of women—and was turned down initially by a male executive. But another executive over CNN.com gave her the green light for a series that then became American Woman. Through the process of interviewing many phenomenal women, another idea sparked and Baldwin and her "spidey-sense" began a weekend pursuit that would ultimately become this book to examine just how much women were accomplishing together. As she wrote in Huddle, "Until I took a deep dive into these girl huddles, I'd never considered the ways our bravery is constructed in childhood—and just how responsible some of my childhood female friends are for my on self-assurance."

Throughout the book that Baldwin herself referred to as part journalism, part memoir, the experienced reporter interviewed and examined these huddles of women in all different arenas. She spoke to a group of 19 black women who, by working and campaigning together, were all elected to the judicial bench of Harris County Texas, and then to a camp full of young girls enthusiastically learning to code. Women who'd learned that by working together they could achieve so much more, and young girls being taught before they could learn otherwise that cheering each other on is better way to be than tearing each other down.

This message of huddling is one we should all be learning, no matter our age. As Baldwin wrote, "You pull up as many folding chairs as you need, or you build a bigger table. You create more resources and options for the benefit of everyone in the huddle."

As we come out of this year of deep, often paralyzing isolation that the pandemic has caused, this book is a must-read for anyone seeking community, connection, and encouragement to dare to chase bigger dreams. Baldwin and her book chock-full of powerful, inspiring women will light a spark and show you the way. And the way to achieving those dreams is not forging the path alone, but by finding your huddle. As cliché as it may sound, we are stronger together and this seasoned journalist will prove it to you not just by prose but by facts, stats, and examples from women from all different paths and phases of life, who are changing the world, hand in hand. Together.

Huddle: How Women Unlock Their Collective Power is available today, April 6, wherever books are sold. You can BUY IT here.

WATCH: The Girl-Power Moment That Inspired Loretta Lynn's "You Ain't Woman Enough"

As for what's next for Baldwin, in just ten days she is signing off from her CNN show for good. After 13 years with the network, she is stepping out to find a new adventure. Where she'll land, she's not sure. But her hope is that we will see Huddle again in a different form. Stay tuned, y'all.