Photography by Brian Bowen Smith, Nigel Parry & Mary Ellen Mark, Produced by Anna Nordberg
The inspiration for this portfolio is, quite simply, the spirit of motherhood. From honoree Lee Woodruff, who started a foundation that champions veterans and their families after her husband, ABC News anchor Bob Woodruff, was injured in Iraq, to Christie Brinkley, who learned that her family was living near a leaky nuclear facility, these moms all share what Woodruff calls "the indomitable instinct to take care of your cubs." But for these six women, that instinct grew into a desire to fight for early‑childhood education, better day care, cleaner waters, and a safer planet. Many of our honorees speak of motherhood as the reason they got involved in their causes‑and of other moms as the people they called on to spread the word. As Brinkley says, "I believe in this mom‑power thing." So do we.
Cofounder of the Bob Woodruff Family Foundation; author of In an Instant (Random House) Mother of Mack, 16, Cathryn, 14, and twins Nora and Claire, 8
“When I heard that my husband [ABC News anchor Bob Woodruff] had been injured in Iraq in January 2006, I was alone with the children and away from home. I became what I refer to as ‘the general': Whatever shock or grief I felt, I had to blunt it to protect my kids. Bob suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI), and I'd be lying if I said there weren't moments that I lay there helplessly, wondering where this little family was going. What many people don't understand about this injury which is the signature wound of this war is that it's a lifelong thing. Bob will always live with fatigue. When he gets tired, he's unable to grab certain words. But beyond that, his recovery has been miraculous. Understanding how lucky we were, and spending time with other families in the hospital and realizing how little voice they had concerning this issue, made us start the foundation. We need to be doing more for veterans with TBI when they come home. We need to be supporting their families. We need to be retraining them, because most cannot return to their lobs. We need to remember that it's not a political issue to help our veterans."
PHOTOGRAPH BY MARY ELLEN MARK
Lawyer; cofounder of the Special Needs Network Mother of Michael , 15, Morgan, 10, and Marty, 8
"We found out our son Marty had autism when he was 2, and I was devastated. Despite being a partner in a Los Angeles law firm and specializing in the area of disability, I found it challenging to get the services Marty needed. Under state and federal law, special‑needs children are guaranteed a free and appropriate public education, but. many families don't have the resources to advocate for their kids. I grew up in North St. Louis, a tough community, so I know what it's like not to be able to provide for your kids the way families with income and education can. The Special Needs Network (SNN) works to make families aware of their rights. We sponsor weekend workshops with day care, so lower‑income families can attend. Recently, one of our moms talked about her 15‑year‑old autistic daughter, who had a habit of spitting. The mother had stopped working, and they rarely left the house. But she took some of our training programs, and she was able to get her daughter into a special school. Now, for the first time, they can go out in public, to a restaurant, to the mall. Just listening to her, I knew we were doing the right thing."