Columnist Goodman’s primary focus: Family

When journalist Ellen Goodman first went to work, nearly all the newspaper writers were men.

She was a researcher in the early 1960s at Newsweek magazine, which at the time had an all-male writing staff.

There was one other female reporter when Goodman arrived at The Detroit Free Press in 1965. By 1967, she was a reporter at The Boston Globe. There, she would go on to write her award-winning columns.

By 1980, Goodman had won the Pulitzer Prize for commentary. In a good many of her columns, Goodman spoke up for women and families.

“The personal ones resonate a lot with readers,” Goodman said Monday by phone from the East Coast. People remembered, she said, when she wrote about family and loss — real life.

Goodman, who at 71 is retired from The Boston Globe, will soon bring her eloquent words and empowering outlook to Everett. She is scheduled as the keynote speaker at the YWCA Inspire Luncheon, set for noon May 10 in the Edward G. Hansen Conference Center. The event is a fundraiser for YWCA programs that help women and children in Snohomish County and the region.

Goodman has written about parenting in a culture that prizes dubious celebrity. She has celebrated the women’s movement and lampooned political foibles.

“I belong to a generation that has transformed our culture,” she wrote in her last regular column, published when she retired Jan. 1, 2010.

On Monday, she acknowledged the career-family juggling act shaped by the women’s movement. “I wouldn’t have given up any piece of it. It’s what life is about,” she said.

“Even with that last column, about letting go, so many people are going through the experience of figuring out what’s next,” Goodman said Monday. “That’s a relatively new phenomenon, to be 70 and think about what’s next.”

Since her mother died about four years ago, Goodman has focused on end-of-life issues. She is co-founder of the Conversation Project, which encourages people to talk with their loved ones about their wishes. “You have to have these conversations — how we want to live at the end of our lives,” she said.

Cathy MacCaul, director of community affairs and public policy for YWCA Seattle-King-Snohomish, said that in 2011 the nonprofit organization raised $1.2 million at its regional luncheons. Goodman’s Everett visit will be the last of three similar YWCA events. Actress Helen Hunt spoke in Bellevue in March, and author Sheryl WuDunn appeared Tuesday at the YWCA luncheon in Seattle.

In Snohomish County, MacCaul said, programs supported by YWCA help women and children in many ways. “We don’t have emergency shelters, but we do have transitional housing,” MacCaul said. The agency owns apartment complexes in Lynnwood and Mountlake Terrace, and has some apartments in Everett and Monroe that house women and families affected by domestic violence and economic struggles.

Another YWCA program offers counseling and art therapy to children who have witnessed domestic violence. And a YWCA program called Project Reunite works with mothers who have successfully completed drug or alcohol treatment, and have been reunited with their children.

The May 10 luncheon, MacCaul said, is non-ticketed event that asks people to make donations. “This is a hard financial time for everyone,” MacCaul said. “Make a donation that’s significant to you. We all have a part to play in addressing issues a lot of people are struggling with right now.”

Goodman may be retired, but she hasn’t turned away from today’s serious issues. Recent political sparring over contraceptive funding reminded Goodman of earlier battles in the women’s movement.

“They’re never over, these kinds of struggles,” she said.

And having spent her career tackling complicated issues, Goodman has little good to say about today’s hurry-up communications. She doesn’t think 140 characters on Twitter is space enough for a reasoned argument.

“Everything has changed — except the amount of time it takes you to think,” she said. “Speed trumps thoughtfulness.”

Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460,

Pulitzer winner

Goodman in Everett

Ellen Goodman, a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist, will speak at the YWCA Inspire Luncheon to be held noon-1:30 p.m. May 10 in the Edward G. Hansen Conference Center at Comcast Arena, 2000 Hewitt Ave., Everett. Proceeds will benefit YWCA programs that help women and children. The event is not ticketed; donations will be requested. Information, or to RSVP:

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