A Letter From the IWL CEO | In the COVID-19 Era

Updated: May 12, 2020

By: Kim Graham Lee- CEO, IWL Foundation


So, what did you first see in this title above? Be honest.

Did you see, "Opportunity is Nowhere" or did you see, "Opportunity is Now Here?"

I will be honest with you. "Opportunity is Nowhere" jumped out to me the first time I saw this over 20 years ago. Not sure why, but it did.

I have used this exercise many times over the past two decades not just in helping others, but continuing to remind myself of the choice I can make every day to be positive, to be grateful, and to see the opportunity. (Admittedly, I am better at that some days versus others.)

The past eight weeks have been incredibly challenging for all of us, and in my over five decades on earth, I don't recall an event that has so quickly turned our world upside down with so much uncertainty and the inability to physically be there for one another. Yes, right now, in a worldwide pandemic, it could be so easy to see "Opportunity is Nowhere." But... the truth is...


In fact, there is even more than one opportunity coming out of this crisis as it relates to the important mission of IWL – accelerating the advancement of women to drive individual and organizational growth and impact.

OPPORTUNITY #1: We Cannot Let COVID-19 Become A Further Setback for Women and Progress Towards Gender Equality.

This first opportunity is actually a challenge in disguise. What is happening right now in this crisis and in its aftermath is the likelihood that women and gender equality will be set back further and perhaps even decades if we aren’t intentional about course-correcting. Before our world turned upside down with the coronavirus, progress on gender equality had already been too slow and had stalled. Women are being overburdened during this time and the gender inequalities already there will further deepen unless we are alert to this and intentional about course-correcting.

OPPORTUNITY #2: We Must Continue to Shine A Bright Spotlight on the Leadership Strengths of Women.

For the past few years, I have shared a passionate and important message that organizations today need the strengths that are considered more inherently female characteristics – e.g., empathy, compassion, teamwork, relationship-building, trust and yes, even love.

Several articles have been written since the COVID-19 crisis began sharing this same perspective and most importantly, how women are leading through this crisis more effectively. A recent Forbes article highlighted that the countries managing this crisis the best had one thing in common – WOMEN LEADERS. These female heads of state are teaching by their words and actions the importance of Truth, Decisiveness, Tech, and Love and getting results that matter for humanity and our overall survival.

OPPORTUNITY #3: IWL is Committed Serve You Through Innovation and Partnerships.

IWL’s “Why” matters even more now. This unbelievable time is driving us to move even more aggressively to “be more than a day,” something we were already doing in support of the leaders and organizations we serve. We have made considerable progress over the past 18 months delivering greater value through our expanded vision to build upon our amazing conference days, that have also gone to a whole new level over the past decade. Workshops. Male Ally Advisory Group and Meetups. In the next few weeks, we will begin offering on-line, virtual programming that we are developing in partnership with others. Stay tuned.

We also look forward to sharing more soon regarding our “exciting change of plans” for the 11th Annual IWL Indianapolis Women’s Leadership Conference in September. Different delivery, exciting new opportunities, but still a great, impactful, personal experience.

Our 2020 Theme, “Be the Change,” Has an Even Stronger Call to Action.

Our theme for 2020 is “Be the Change” and little did we know 7+ months ago when we selected that theme, how truly meaningful those words would be through this experience, as we all move to a “new normal.” What I wrote about those three words many months ago rings even truer now and takes on a whole new level of significance in the COVID-19 era.

“Be”: Change starts from within each of us individually. It comes from stillness, pausing to reflect, listening, learning, being mindful, shifting perspective, rewriting our own narrative. We have true power when we live in our own truth, authentically and with purpose and meaning.

“The Change”: Our homes, our organizations, and our world need unity and change. Change is the only constant but when we are intentional and participate in that change for ourselves and others, amazing things happen for us individually and collectively. Change requires empathy and understanding. It’s using the right words. It’s taking the right actions.


With Much LOVE and GRATITUDE. Be Safe. Be Well.


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