Cocktails and Conversations with Lee Woodruff

Last week’s NYWICI‘s “Cocktails and Conversation” event featured the inspiring Lee Woodruff as guest speaker. From best- selling author to businesswoman, devoted wife and mother of four, Lee has paved an illustrious and highly celebrated career. Her message was one of empowerment, touching upon both professional and personal aspects of leading a “perfectly imperfect life.” Lee urged attendees to always speak up for themselves, find the courage to take risks and remain resilient in the face of adversity—advice everyone can relate to!

The event began with a brief cocktail hour followed by Liz Kaplow’s introduction of the honorary speaker.  Liz said that she was greatly looking forward to hearing “Lee’s unique take on the current debate over leaning in, opting out, defining balance and why feminism shouldn’t be a dirty word.” Liz spoke of Lee’s power and grace as a writer and storyteller in her critically acclaimed book In an Instant: A Family’s Journey of Love and Healing. In an Instant chronicles the story of Lee’s husband, Bob Woodruff, and his ordeal after his ABC News team was struck in a roadside bomb attack while on an assignment in Iraq. During Bob’s long road to recovery after suffering a traumatic brain injury, Lee held her family together, providing physical and emotional support. Lee turned her family’s personal tragedy into a public mission by founding the Bob Woodruff Foundation, ReMind.org, to shed light on traumatic brain injury. The foundation’s mission is to ensure that wounded service members receive the long- term care they need and help them assimilate back into their communities.

During her speech, Lee spoke about the notion of “having it all.” As women, she said, we are inclined to “define” our happiness and success by how full we feel our lives are—a thriving career, marriage, family, social life etc. If one aspect is amiss, we feel unaccomplished as a whole. Lee said that she believes women are absolutely capable of having it all, but not necessarily at the same time. She stressed the importance of being easier on ourselves and not trying to achieve perfection, which only sets us up for failure and disappointment. Lee also urged that women should be supportive and non- judgmental of one another. “People, women in particular, need to do whatever is right for them,” she said.

Lee is a fierce example of strength, dignity and grace during both the best and worst of times. In the introduction of her new book Perfectly Imperfect- A Life in Progress, her husband Bob writes, “During my injury and recovery I was amazed, watching my wife, at how she was able to keep so many things together—the children’s needs and schedules, while managing their fears and concerns.” Lee’s ability to conquer life’s challenges and keep moving forward is truly admirable and can help each of us think about how we define balance in our own lives.

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