Meet the Woman Teaching Teens What a Healthy Relationship Looks Like
Badass Women celebrates women who show up, speak up, and get things done.
As the CEO of One Love Foundation, Katie Hood is equipping millions of young people with the tools they need to properly navigate relationships. In 2011 Hood was the CEO of the Michael J. Fox Foundation, with a $50 million budget to help develop life-improving medicine for people with Parkinson’s disease. But when the Love family asked her to help them build up a foundation in honor of 22-year-old Yeardley Love, who was killed by her ex-boyfriend in 2010, Hood rose to the challenge. Since she became CEO of One Love in 2014, the nonprofit has educated almost 700,000 people across the country about the markers of healthy and unhealthy relationships through award-winning film-based workshops, which have caught the attention of more than 100 million people online. “It’s emotionally exhausting to realize how many people suffer and don’t know how to get help,” Hood says. “But if you save one life, it’s all worth it. And I know we’ve saved lives. That’s not up for debate. It’s pretty damn rewarding.”
Tough Talk: One Love has made major strides toward reshaping how people discuss domestic violence. “Our ‘healthy’ and ‘unhealthy’ vocabulary gives people a way to be honest in a way that the words ‘abuse’ and ‘victim’ don’t,” she says. “After going through our programs, people will often say, ‘I have a friend in a really bad situation, and I didn’t realize it till now.’ That’s huge.”
Bring It Home: Hood’s work has also made it easier for her to talk about awkward topics with her four young kids. “I walked into the kitchen two years ago and asked my son, ‘Hey, have you seen porn?’ At first he was like, ‘We are not having this conversation,’ ” Hood recalls with a laugh. “I said, ‘I’m not mad. I just need you to know that it’s not what normal sex in a loving relationship is like.’ ”
Big Picture: One Love has had much broader results than Hood initially thought possible. “We used to think about love as a soft topic, but we’re seeing that if you have healthier relationships, you face fewer issues down the road, like poor mental health or incarceration,” Hood says. “Healthy relationships allow us to thrive in life.” Hood is aiming for a snowball effect in which teens have solid relationships from the start and grow up to influence future generations. “What if instead of one in three women being in abusive relationships, it’s one in five, or one in seven, or one in 10? That could have a huge impact on the world.”
Spread the Love: Hood plans to launch a volunteer program with community leaders and expand One Love globally to accommodate requests from educators in Croatia, South Africa, and Ukraine, among other countries. The best way to get involved now is by donating and sharing the word on social media, which in itself has changed how kids interact. “Relationships are relevant to everyone. We all have a stake in this,” Hood says. “And there are way more good than bad people in this world. We just have to find one another and spread positivity. That might sound pie-in-the-sky, but it’s not. The spark you see when somebody is motivated to help other people is real.”
For more stories like this, pick up the September issue of InStyle, available on newsstands, on Amazon, and for digital download now.