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Mar 11, 2021

Marching Forward: Lee Woodruff

Bob Woodruff Foundation

Women are helping to lead the Bob Woodruff Foundation into an exciting new future. Throughout the month of March, we’ll be sharing their stories.

Although we celebrate International Women’s Day on March 8 and women’s history for the entire month, women are impacting positive change every day of the year. In the workplace, women help organizations increase revenue, serve as better mentors, and even acquire higher levels of education than their male counterparts. The Bob Woodruff Foundation has been benefiting from women in leadership roles since our inception. Throughout the month we will be featuring stories on women who have helped lead the foundation and find out what they have to say on issues including empowerment, mentorship, and gender equality.

Lee Woodruff is a founder of the Bob Woodruff Foundation. As a co-author of the New York Times best-selling book, In an Instant, Woodruff detailed her family’s journey to recovery after her husband Bob was injured by a roadside bomb in 2006 while covering the Iraq War. The tragedy inspired her to help create the Bob Woodruff Foundation to ensure post-9/11 veterans have access to the highest levels of support and resources when they transition out of military service. Woodruff has been a contributing reporter for ABC’s “Good Morning America” and “CBS This Morning.” Her best-selling book Perfectly Imperfect – A Life in Progress, was followed by her first novel Those We Love Most, which became a New York Times Best-Seller.

“My mother is probably the most formative mentor in my life. Although she didn’t work outside the home after she started a family, she made it clear that a woman should have a skill, and that education was the most important differentiator in being able to have ‘a room of one’s own.'”

She also provides consulting services to help clients become more effective interview subjects and to increase their communication skills overall. Strong voices can lead to empowerment, something Woodruff would like to see available to everyone.

“To me, women’s empowerment means giving every single woman a chance at complete equality — to be anything, to do anything, to say anything, and to earn everything,” Woodruff said. “All of us, no matter what color, gender, or creed, deserve the chance to plot the course of our own lives and dream way outside the lines.”

Not only is it important for women to fight for their own opportunity, but through mentorship, they can also ensure that advancement for women is not an isolated incident. Woodruff realizes how influential it was for her to have leaders willing to help her learn the essentials of empowerment early in her career.

“I was lucky to have female bosses when I started my career in communications,” Woodruff explained. “They taught me to ask for the order, to have an equal voice at the table, and that you could be both generous of heart and smart as hell. I had some fabulous male bosses too, who believed in equality and demonstrated that in the way they led their teams.”

The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day was challenge, and from challenge comes change. As most of us know, meaningful change is rarely easy, and it's never going to happen unless all voices are heard.

“Gender equality comes from speaking up,” Woodruff said. “It comes from getting comfortable with saying the uncomfortable, from helping others understand how their behavior affects others. This can be done with kindness and not anger, with tolerance and the intent to teach, not just correct.”