By Jennifer Kennedy
While teaching English in Hillsborough County, Danielle Bayard Jackson noticed her female students’ problems centered around one topic. Girls often came to her for guidance on how to navigate friendship conflicts. These challenges significantly impacted their focus, performance and mood.
Jackson discovered girls and adolescents were not the only ones facing these obstacles. Years later, as the owner of Tell Public Relations, her female clients were struggling with similar issues. The professional women she interacted with were charismatic, intelligent, engaging adults who had never learned how to build friendships.
These high-achieving women were successful in other areas of their life but had difficulty creating lasting bonds. While they would readily seek professional help for career roadblocks or marriage challenges, they had not prioritized female connections.
In seeking guidance for her clients, the publicist quickly learned there were virtually no resources available for navigating adult friendships. Books on the topic were exclusively directed at children.
Friendship Coach Career
The University of Florida graduate leveraged her background as an educator to address this growing need. She spent five years diving into the latest research on women’s communication and conflict and became certified as a coach.
Today Jackson is a female friendship coach and educator that speaks nationally about the science of women’s platonic connections.
Her coaching business, Friend Forward, is dedicated to teaching women how to create and maintain better female friendships. As a member of the American Sociological Association, the Tampa native uses the latest research to create practical, tangible strategies to help women create more depth in their platonic relationships. She shares her insight weekly on The Friend Forward Podcast.
The mother of two has been requested as a speaker by the NFL, NBA and Etsy to foster connections between female employees and family members. Sororities use her powerful advice as keynotes for annual conventions. More businesses are realizing how important relationships are to employee wellbeing and retention.
A Harvard University study spanning 80 years revealed close relationships, more than money or fame, are what keep people happy throughout their lives. Jackson is grateful to see more women investing in friendships.
“I hope women start to see friendship as a vital wellness imperative instead of something fun to do on the weekends,” Jackson said. She notes her tools have strengthened all of her own relationships, including her marriage to her husband, Ryan.
Her expertise has been featured in The New York Times, NBC News, Psychology Today, Wall Street Journal, FORTUNE Magazine and Oprah Magazine. She is the resident friendship expert for the global app Bumble and has several viral videos on TikTok.
Jackson’s insight recently earned her a six-figure book deal. “Fighting for Friendships”, releasing May 2024, is designed to deliver practical, research-based advice. The book explains the mechanics of female friendships and explores tangible strategies to overcome the top obstacles in conflict.
“I am overwhelmed with gratitude to be able to help others create something so deeply personal,” Jackson said. “I want to teach woman how they can contribute to their own friendship story.”