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CBS' Woodruff highlights inspirational messsage

| Sunday, June 16, 2013, 7:31 p.m.
john altdorfer | for the tribune-review
Morgan and Kathy O'Brien with Grant and Aradhna Oliphant during An Evening with Lee Woodruff – United for Women at the Fairmont Hotel.
john altdorfer | for the tribune-review
Christen Cieslak and Lee Woodruff with Morgan and Kathy O'Brien during An Evening with Lee Woodruff – United for Women at the Fairmont Hotel.

“She's an inspirational speaker,” said United Way of Allegheny County prez Bob Nelkin. “(She) keeps people spellbound and gets right to the message, which is that people have to care about each other and help them get back on their feet.”

Living up to her reputation, New York Times best-selling author and “CBS This Morning” contributor Lee Woodruff didn't disappoint, keeping 225 guests of United Way and United for Women glued to their seats June 10. In town for a special event hosted by Morgan andKathy O'Brien and Grant andAradhna Oliphant, Woodruff bolstered an already inspirational evening unfolding at the Fairmont, Downtown.

With the goal of putting the spotlight on the issues that veterans, especially women soldiers, face when returning home, the program included a remarkably candid point of view from Army Lt. Col. Christen Cieslak, who is also a project director at Oxford Development Co.

“They train us to readjust,” she said. “People ask, ‘Are you happy to be at home?' And we say, ‘We're taking it one day at a time.' ”

Cieslak was effortlessly amusing one moment and compellingly poignant the next.

“If there's a dry eye in the place, I'm gonna be shocked,” said United Way's Pat Siger.

Also spied were Laura Ellsworth, Elizabeth Terrell, Gina Pferdehirt, Anne Lewis and Cally Vennare.

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