Best-selling author, journalist, and advocate for injured veterans Lee Woodruff will receive the 19th annual Barbara Boggs Sigmund Award from Womanspace, the Mercer County non profit agency that provides services — 24-hour hotlines, crisis intervention, emergency shelter, counseling, court advocacy, and housing — to victims and survivors of domestic and sexual violence.
Ms. Woodruff will receive the award at a ceremony and reception on Tuesday, May 21, from 5:30 to 9 p.m. at the Hyatt Regency in Princeton.
Named for Barbara Boggs Sigmund, mayor of Princeton Borough from 1983 until 1990 and her death in office at age 51, after an eight-year battle with cancer, the award is given each May to “a woman of distinction who exemplifies the legacy of Womanspace founder and event namesake and women like her who inspire others to greatness.” In 1995, the first honoree was Ms. Sigmund’s younger sister, the ABC political reporter Corrine “Cokie” Boggs Roberts.
Since then, recipients have been, among others: artist Faith Ringgold (2011); sports coach C. Vivian Stringer (2010); broadcaster Nancy Snyderman (2009); author Jean Kilbourne (2008); women’s economic advocate Nell Merlino (2007); legal correspondent Nina Totenberg (2006); NJN news anchor Kent Manahan (2005); playwright and director of Princeton’s McCarter Theater Emily Mann (2004); crime novelist and head of the Sex Crimes Unit of the Manhattan DA’s office (1976-2002), Linda Fairstein (2003); survivors of domestic violence Ann, Pat and Sandy (2001); Star Jones, co-host of ABC’s The View (2000); and Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and author Anna Quindlen (1999).
Last year, the award was presented to Dr. Stacey Patton, journalist, author, and children’s advocate whose first book, That Mean Old Yesterday, recounted her childhood experiences in New Jersey’s foster care system.
Princeton Borough Mayor
Ms. Sigmund had politics in her blood. She was the daughter of Democratic Rep. Hale Boggs of Louisiana and Corrine “Lindy” Boggs, who held the post of Congresswoman from New Orleans for some 20 years. She wrote letters for President John F. Kennedy and danced with President Lyndon Johnson at her wedding to Mr. Sigmund in 1964.
In 1972, she won a seat on the Princeton Borough council and led a successful campaign to “Save the Dinky.” Three years later she became a Mercer County freeholder. But in 1982, following a diagnosis of cancer, Ms. Sigmund had her left eye removed. With characteristic aplomb, she attended events as mayor of Princeton Borough sporting an eye patch chosen to match her outfit and when she entered the Democratic gubernatorial primary in 1989, her campaign slogan was: “I’ve got my eye on New Jersey.”
Lee Woodruff speaks and writes about ways in which good things can come out of tragedy. She came by her knowledge first hand when her husband, ABC correspondent Bob Woodruff, was seriously injured by a roadside bomb in Iraq.
Out of that experience came Ms. Woodruff’s first book, In an Instant, and an organization, The Bob Woodruff Foundation (ReMind.org) that helps wounded and fatigued servicemen and women and their families to receive the long-term care they need and to help them adjust and settle back into their communities.
Written together with her husband, In an Instant reached the top of the New York Times Best Sellers list after it was published in February 2007. The book led to appearances on national television and radio. The couple brought media and public awareness to the serious issue of traumatic brain injury among returning Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans, as well as others living with the affliction.
Ms. Woodruff faced a devastating situation with resourcefulness and humor. The chronicle of her family’s journey to recovery is a compelling read.
After writing a collection of essays, Perfectly Imperfect — A Life in Progress, Ms. Woodruff launched into her first novel. Those We Love Most has been described as a “poignant page-turner about the complexities of love and marriage,” and its author compared to Sue Monk Kidd and Anna Quindlen. It has been praised by the likes of Catherine Coulter and Alice Hoffman.
Told through the perspectives of two generations within a single family, Those We Love Most chronicles the ways in which a sudden twist of fate forces family members to examine their choices, raising such questions as: Why do we hurt the ones we love? And what would we do ourselves in the face of unthinkable tragedy?
Besides her books, Ms. Woodruff has written numerous articles about her family and parenting in Health, Redbook, Country Living, Parade, and Family Fun magazines. She lives in Westchester County, New York, with her husband and their four children. She was a contributing editor at ABC’s Good Morning America before moving to CBS to join This Morning with hosts Charlie Rose, Gayle King, and Norah O’Donnell.
“Lee Woodruff’s public efforts and her writing are an inspiration to others who face tragedy in their own lives whether from the violence of war or of domestic violence. Her contributions, like those of Barbara Sigmund focus on bringing hope and the capacity for change,” said Womanspace Executive Director Pat Hart.
Founded in 1977 by Ms. Sigmund together with Ellen Belknap, Valorie Caffee, the late Mary Ann Cannon, and Deborah Metzger, Womanspace was formed in response to a need that was brought to light in New Jersey by the 1976 Mercer County Commission on the Status of Women. The most pressing concern of that time for women was spousal abuse, then called ‘battered wives,’ and places where victims could find help and refuge.
Womanspace created the first shelter for female victims of domestic violence and their children in Mercer County. Since its founding, Womanspace has served more than 301,076 adults and children. It provides programs for families struggling with domestic violence and sexual assault. Over 10,900 adults and children were served last year. Programs include crisis intervention, emergency shelter, counseling, court advocacy, housing services, and a 24-hour hotline: (609) 394-9000.
The annual Barbara Boggs Sigmund Award reception and fundraiser helps provide much needed funds for these programs. Jansen Research and Development LLC is the presenting sponsor. Tickets are $150 in advance, $175 at the door. There are a number of opportunities to purchase journal advertisements, tables, and other sponsorships. In addition, raffle tickets at $50 each offer a chance to win a luxurious all-inclusive trip for two adults to the Dominican Republic for a 5-day/4-night stay at the Bahia Principe Hotels and Resorts. A Silent Auction, to benefit the organization’s new children’s services program, will feature art by local artists including a piece by Faith Ringold.
For more information, contact Susan D. Klejst at (609) 394-0136 ext. 205, or firstname.lastname@example.org; or visit: www.womanspace.org.