What Jenna Bush Hager's Grandparents Told Her When Today Offered Her a Job & She Wasn't Sure What to Do
It was the summer of 2009 when Jenna Bush Hager — then 27 and teaching in Maryland — got a call that would change her life.
The Today show was offering her a job as a correspondent. She just wasn’t quite sure what to do.
But, as Hager recounted earlier this week in a keynote Q&A at the Advertising Specialty Institute’s trade show in Texas, she was vacationing in Maine with her grandparents George H. W. Bush and Barbara Bush and she asked the former president and first lady’s advice.
The Today job “was obviously new to her, so her grandparents said, ‘Why don’t we sit down together and watch a morning of it?’ ” says Sara Lavenduski, senior editor for ASI’s Advantages magazine, who was in attendance at Wednesday’s event in Fort Worth.
“So they did,” Lavenduski recalls. “[Hager] said, ‘My grandparents were really encouraging. … They were mavericks, they really did a lot of different things, too.’ “
Hager, 37, gave the keynote for the Fort Worth trade show alongside her mother, former First Lady Laura Bush. Their hour-long talk to a crowd of 700 was moderated by ASI CEO Tim Andrews and covered a range of topics, according to Lavenduski, including Laura’s focus on education, which has continued since she left the White House, and Hager’s role on Today where she is now a co-host.
“Mrs. Bush toward the end was talking about how we’re such a very fortunate wealthy country and because of that we have the opportunity to make sure our children are well educated and we should take advantage of that,” Lavenduski says.
In a more lighthearted moment, Lavenduski says, the Bushes also discussed their favorite promotional products of themselves — with Laura unveiling a bobblehead Laura, 72, she said she’d found on sale after Barack Obama won the presidency in 2008.
Hager’s favorite? A mousepad of her and husband Henry Hager sold locally in Crawford, Texas, when they got married.
In the Q&A, Hager described working with her mom and her twin sister, Barbara Pierce Bush, in writing several books including the most recent, Sisters First: Stories from Our Wild and Wonderful Life.
According to Lavenduski, Hager’s message was: “When you’re working with your family, they work differently and that’s okay, and it took a little bit of patience to work with her sister in a different working style that her sister had but in the end everything came together.”
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The Bush family’s closeness traces back to the 41st president and his wife, who passed away within months of each other last year.
As Hager and her mom described in the Q&A, H.W. Bush and Barbara “were the glue that held everyone together,” Lavenduski says.
“They showed their family how to be in harmony with each other and get along.”
But even families get busy and need to reconnect.
Lavenduski says that during the chat, “At one point Laura said [of her and her daughter], ‘Excuse us. We’re using this forum to catch up.’ “