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Christie Lawler, young smiling blond woman in red shirt

Founded in 2018, The WITI Group is a nonprofit organization that focuses on building and empowering women in the hospitality industry through networking, mentoring and financial and emotional support. The WITI Group is the philanthropic arm of my marketing agency, CJL CONSULTiNG. The cornerstone of the company is that we’re all better when we support each other and that is mirrored into the outreach and empowerment efforts of The WITI Group.

I came upon the genesis of The WITI Group in a very peculiar way. In 2017, our home was devastated by Hurricane Harvey. Our lives flipped upside down and I was dealing with a professional environment that was derailing me mentally while struggling with physically rebuilding our lives. During a conversation with my husband one afternoon, I casually brought up being violently and sexually assaulted throughout my childhood and adulthood – completely forgetting I had never told him about much of it. Oops. He didn’t respond casually at all. After nearly 20 years together, he was disappointed that I had failed to share so much about my life before we met. He knew I wasn’t in a healthy mental place. He insisted that I seek out trauma therapy as everything in our current life was rebuilding, so I should work on rebuilding my personal self too.

I did. I found a therapist and started working through my trauma starting from the earliest assault memories. I eventually realized that I didn’t feel like a victim… I didn’t identify as one either. I felt like I had survived and grown stronger. I realized that I was not the only person suffering from historical situations that allowed herself to get stuck in those emotions. And that I had ignored much of those feelings in order to move forward. But I hadn’t healed… just moved forward choosing to ignore the pain. Not a healthy decision.

So, with that epiphany, I decided I was going to use my pain – and all I learned from it – for something good. Knowing and realizing that my scary parts could morph into something beautiful for others. The WITI Group was born. Today I stand proud and strong… I am WITI. I choose to not be a victim. I choose to not allow others to have power over me. I know that I am worthy, that I have an impact and that I can inspire and help others by walking with my history – instead of ignoring it – while also knowing that it does not define me for anything other than to be a powerhouse for others. Admitting that I have at times been my own worst enemy and choosing not to dwell in that past, but rather create a brighter future for myself by empowering others, is my new truth.

I am the founder of The WITI Group. I am the owner of CJL CONSULTiNG. My company and nonprofit organization both stand for something that adds value to our industry while being the next generation of transparent marketing practices. It’s with those two sides of my career, that I strive to make a difference in the world for others.

Christie Lawler – Founder & Owner, CJL CONSULTiNG and The WITI Group

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