“Nobody can tell me I can’t do that!”
Nancy Word is retired from a successful 33-year career in information technology as a Vice President for Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC). Since her retirement, she co-founded a new non-profit organization called Impact Austin, which has provided funding to many local humanitarian and social causes in Austin, Texas.
What has shaped who you are today?
I grew up in Texas, a Southern gal, with no exposure to international flavor growing up. My first job out of college was an accountant with the Humble Oil Company. At the annual family picnic, I was in the company beauty pageant. I paraded in front of all the employees and their families in a bathing suit and high heels. It just goes to show how much things have changed. I did not win the “Miss Humble” pageant, but I worked my way up to Vice President at CSC, a global IT services company, before retiring in 2003. Becoming a Nobel Women’s Initiative supporter was the beginning of the ‘new me’. When I retired, I was one of the founders of Impact Austin, and we had Lynne Twist come speak to us about her work leading the Soul of Money. At the time, Lynne was looking for sturdy women who could handle bathing out of a bucket—who might go places that did not have all the comforts. Women who could support the work of Nobel peace laureates without being in the spotlight.
What trip with Nobel Women’s Initiative changed you the most?
I remember the morning of my birthday in Liberia, and we were talking about a tough meeting the night before. I was in tears and talking to Nobel peace laureate Mairead Maguire. I asked her, “What can one person do to change the situation here for these women?” She said, “You can listen. The fact that you came all the way from Texas to witness their stories is good enough.”
What are some of the things you have done related to Liberia?
I am co-funding the launch of an agricultural co-op initiative with the women of Liberia and Ivory Coast, and co-funding micro loans for women in the community of Totota, Bong County. I have also supported St. Joseph’s hospice facility in Monrovia to provide care for AIDS victims; supported the Gbowee Peace Foundation Africa in its work to provide educational opportunities for Liberian girls and women; supported efforts to bring advanced medical care for Liberian children with respiratory disease; and provided funding for “Camp 72”, a powerful documentary on the life of a Liberian woman who survived the civil war.
Was there an effort that did not turn out as you expected?
When I met Brother Patrick at St. Joseph’s Catholic Hospital in Monrovia, I learned they had no EKG machine. I spent a whole year helping fund a project with Texas A&M to get an EKG for St Joseph’s. Brother Patrick and I exchanged emails and Skype calls. The EKG was delivered and celebrated on July 1st, 2013. The Gbowee Peace Foundation’s Executive Director read a statement about our family, and how important it was for the hospital to have this machine to do their work. A few months later, Brother Patrick died of Ebola and they shut the hospital down during the crisis. It broke my heart.
Is there anything you would like our readers to know about you?
The most rewarding part of this work has been involving my family. I have gotten so many of the incredibly amazing strong, caring women in my family involved in some way. I can’t wait to continue, and I keep growing with it. As long as I still have the financial resources, I will be a supporter of the Nobel Women’s Initiative.
Read about Women Forging Peace, the Nobel Women’s Initiative delegation to Liberia that Nancy joined in 2013.
Learn more about the documentary “Camp 72” that Nancy helped fund.
Subscribe by email and have a profile delivered to your inbox each day of the 16 Days of Activism.