Woodhull Institute for Ethical Leadership
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-Nikki Stern (Woodhull Alumna)

jkTwo stories were prominently on display this past week: Jon and Kate; and the protests in Iran. They aren’t comparable, of course – except in their ubiquity.

To catch you up: Jon and Kate Gosselin had sextuplets, which, in addition to their two older children, gave them a family of eight to raise. They are currently doing a fifth season of a reality program, during which time they’ve apparently been adversely affected by fame and paparazzi, though they seem to enjoy the money. Monday night on their show, they announced they’d filed for divorce, which surprised no one who cared in the first place. Now you know as much as I do and no, I have not watched a single episode. I know what I know because other forms of media seem to think this is an important “celebrity” story. We can bicker about whether any celebrity story is important, but I can think of about fifty such stories that would be loads more entertaining and less painful to follow. I managed to have a little fun with this story because Open Salon, a blog to which I contribute, sponsored a contest to come up with what the announcement really ought to be. I wrote a  fake press release noting that Jon and Kate were giving their kids away to needy families. continue

Category : Living | Media | News | Blog

Previously published on Huffington Post.

Nazi, Al Qaida, Stalin, NAMBLA. These are only a few of the comparisons the likes of Bill O’Reilly have drawn when describing Dr. George Tiller. The women whom Dr. Tiller treated use other words to describe their physician. Compassionate, gentle, kind. And most of all, courageous.

The schlock jocks have a permanent bully pulpit from which to incite violence and hatred. But what about the women whose stories are never told? What about the women who confess only in secret their tragic tales of babies with genetic and developmental abnormalities, who turn to each other to heal because to say the words out loud is too dangerous? continue

Category : Living | News | Blog


By, Kristina Hyltoft (Woodhull Summer 2009 Intern)

In this coming of age story, Orange, Mint, and Honey,

written by Carleen Brice covers the bitter sweetness of the coming of age of an African-American woman named Shay.  What started as a trip home inspired by the words of Blues Singer Nina Simone quickly turned into an experience that would change her life forever and would raise a voice from the ashes of an unborn life.

Throughout the book, Shay is confronted with the voices from her past.  Her alcoholic mother re-entered her life along with several other characters that teach Shay lessons about herself as she transitions into her own voice and sense of womanhood.  Throughout the novel, she is confronted with several women and their stories as she begins to make sense of the truth of her life and begin her journey. continue

Category : Living | News | Blog

By Victoria Olsen (Woodhull Alumna)

Although I’m a product of the 60s, my love affair with feminism has been pretty cerebral. I read the theory, took the classes, wrote the papers, and sat around talking til I found myself with growing daughters of my own. It was then that I suddenly felt the physical reality of women’s vulnerabilities. This spring I started looking around for self-defense classes for all three of us. Luckily, a terrific neighborhood organization in Brooklyn called the Center for Anti-Violence Education offers women’s martial arts, teen conflict-resolution, and children’s empowerment classes. I signed us up for a Mother-Daughter Self-Defense workshop and cajoled my girls into coming along. The younger (11) seemed to think it would teach her to be a ninja warrior, so she was game. The elder (14) was more reluctant, though she is the one who rides the subway to and from school by herself. “We’ve done this in school already!” she complained. “Then you’ll be ahead of the rest of us,” I answered. continue

Category : Living | Blog

Book Review of Women. Period. by Victoria Olsen (Woodhull Alumna)

You may be surprised to hear that an anthology of personal essays about menstruation was recently published.  If so, you’ll be very surprised to hear that in fact two have come out in the past few months.  A recent book review in The New York Times attributes this interest to the flood of anthologies about every “slice” of women’s experiences that have appeared since the popularity of The Bitch in the House: 26 Women Tell the Truth About Sex, Solitude, Work, Motherhood, and Marriage. The Times reviewer wonders, how much is there to say about getting your period?  And what’s next, a “collection of ruminative essays about bowel movements”?


Category : Culture | Living | Blog

traditional brideby Alexia Vernon (Woodhull Alumna)

I had the good fortune to facilitate the wedding of a dear friend (and one of my first coaching clients!) on their beautiful tropical island a few weeks ago. With my first anniversary just three months away, stepping back into marriage land resurrected some marital musings I never previously got around to sharing. continue

Category : Living | Blog

In Response To “Finding and Treating Depression in Teenagers” published in the New York Times on March 30, 2009. The following letter to the editor was printed on April 12, 2009.

by Leeat Granek (Woodhull Alumna)

To the Editor:

The United States Preventive Services Task Force suggests routine depression screening for teenagers because the disorder has become so widespread. If it is indeed true that 6 percent of American teenagers, or close to two million adolescents, are clinically depressed, the solution is not more screening. The only thing this will accomplish is more diagnoses of even mild cases of the blues, more prescriptions for drugs, and more hours on the therapist’s couch.

We should be focusing our money, time and resources on finding out why so many teenagers are depressed. Instead of pulling kids out of the proverbial river one by one, let’s focus on what is pushing them downstream in the first place.

Leeat Granek
Toronto, March 30, 2009

The writer is a researcher at Princess Margaret Hospital and Sunnybrook Odette Cancer Center in Toronto.

Category : Community Member Projects and Updates | Education | Living | Blog

By: Janice Formichella and Andrea Hance (Woodhull Alumna)

michelle-obamaThe Obama’s trip to England last week was a significant highlight in the first hundred days of the new Presidency. What the trip truly served as, however, was a red carpet introducing Michelle Obama to the world. The headlines soon shifted from the G20 summit to Michelle Obama’s performance as First Lady and the fact that she overshadowed her husband during the trip. This became front-page news after Michelle made a memorable visit to a local girls school after a historic and even eyebrow-raising audience with the Queen. As images of the visit were flashed over news programs and evening papers, many started to sense the presence of the late Princess Diana in the behavior, grace, individuality, and public awe that Michelle commanded. By the end of the day some reporters had modified the comparison between Michelle and Jackie O to perhaps the more appropriate comparison of Michelle and Princess Diana. continue

Category : Living | Blog

by Chanel Dubofsky – Woodhull Alumna

There are things that I know because I live them: new shoes are uncomfortable the first day you wear them,  I have to fix that ball thing so the toilet will stop flushing over and over again. Then there are the things I’ve forgotten that I know, and in a singular, beautiful moment, I relearn them.

stock_xchng_heart_in_handsThe other day, I was on a conference call, listening to my colleagues discuss another colleague involved in what had become a controversial situation. “She’s pushing the envelope,” someone said, and inside me, something went off. I thought, what’s wrong with this person? Why does she have to make such a big deal? Can’t she just go with it?

I am often the envelope pusher, the one who won’t just “go with it”, who says the status quo itself is the problem.  Still, on the phone, deep in my socialized, genderized guts, I flinched. continue

Category : Careers | Living | News | Blog

by Nina Sutton (Woodhull Alumna)

We all know it. The desire to achieve, to prove, to claim our greatness. We’ve done it – the Ph.D., the corner office, the byline, the book. It works, we have climbed the Zermatt of our career, or at least we have that pinnacle in sight.

working-momThen, one day, we are pregnant. OK, we can do this. We can add another hat to those already adorning our perfectly coiffed heads. Our husband/partner will be welcoming of the new baby and everything will move along smilingly – or so we pray/meditate/manifest.  We are much too savvy to fall into the traps described in Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique.

What high-achieving women need to know is that in a Columbia and Yale University-based study called “Developmental Themes in Women’s Emotional Experiences of Motherhood” (2001) women of high ego development have more difficulty adjusting to motherhood, due in part to tendencies toward self-reflection. Yes, those-of-us-who-can-do-it-all face a significant challenge. Self-examination and maladaptive perfectionism (compared to healthy goal setting and standards of achievement) not only harms us along the journey of motherhood, but claims its victims as our children get older – in their own burgeoning lives. Our own self-doubt and criticism will be mirrored in our children and hamper them from eventually developing into the healthy and productive adults we hope they will become. continue

Category : Careers | Living | News | Blog
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