Ritu Chopra is a humanitarian, motivational speaker and certified leadership coach who was born in India and lives in New Jersey. She is the author of the books Art of Life, Mastering Life, Women Leadership in the 21st Century, and Magic in Mindfulness and is the host of the television program Despite the Challenges. A domestic abuse survivor, she produced the award-winning documentaries Lead My Way: A Global Perspective of Domestic Violence and The Secret Crimes and the Silent Epidemic of Generations. She is the founder and director of Lead My Way, a non-profit dedicated to raising awareness about gender-based violence.

The Rutgers Oral History Archives received an operating support grant from the New Jersey Historical Commission, a division of the Department of State. In the 2021-2022 cycle, this grant assisted the ROHA staff in making this oral history available to you for your use.

Chopra was born in New Delhi, India in 1962. Her mother, Leela Wanti, and her father, Krishan, were from Kurukshetra. Krishan was a notable attorney specializing in diplomacy and international trade.

After completing her bachelor's degree at New Delhi University, Chopra got married and immigrated to the United States. She and her husband lived briefly in South Dakota and then settled in Wisconsin for thirteen years, during which time her two children were born. She worked at her husband's small business, a souvenir and gift shop.

When her marriage turned abusive, Chopra suffered in silence. She had no family support in America. She feared the stigma of divorce, which would affect not only her but her family members as well. She had few professional prospects. Despite the obstacles, she was not going to stay in an abusive marriage. She continued her education, completing a distance learning course in interior design. She worked multiple jobs and saved money.

Determined to forge a better life for herself and her children, Chopra moved to Edison, New Jersey in 1996. Her situation vastly improved, but she found herself encountering a new difficulties. She worked two jobs, while also taking information technology courses. She recovered from a serious car accident. As a single parent, she faced the tribulations of finding affordable child care and navigating her own career while raising her children.

Chopra's professional journey continued, all while her children went through school and onto higher education. For twenty years, she worked in corporate information technology (IT).

At the same time, through a mutual friend, she met a woman who worked in the United Nations. Chopra opened up and shared her own stories as a survivor of domestic abuse. "Within an hour," she remembers, "she convinced me to be a voice of millions who don't have one." Chopra wanted to parlay her experiences, many traumatic but also many uplifting, into media that would inspire others. She shifted gears in her career and went into life coaching, writing and filmmaking.

Her interest in life coaching began when she was working in corporate IT. Professionally, she learned the best methodologies practiced by C-suite executives in the business world. There was another side, though, that piqued her interest on a deeper level. Chopra explains, "Because of my personal situation, I was very drawn to philosophy and the spirituality part of it and just was looking into people's behavior, observing that very much, because I was impacted by people's responses, being a divorced single woman and mother. In my social circle and the people around me, I began to start observing people's behavior."

On a spiritual and philosophical level, she realized she could heal herself through service to others. In 2001, she wrote her first book, Art of Life. Her second book, Mastering Life: Exploring Your Untapped Potential to Reach New Heights, followed in 2009. These two works explore how to achieve success in personal and professional domains. Having taken several certification courses, she launched a business as an executive coach as the pandemic hit in 2020. Her forthcoming book and podcast Women Leadership in the 21st Century: Raising and Creating Leaders of Tomorrow aligns with her executive coaching program. Her book Magic in Mindfulness is forthcoming.

Producing and hosting a television show became another passion in her life. In 2014, she launched Despite the Challenges with Princeton TV. The program showcases the stories of individuals who have overcome extraordinary challenges and, in turn, have made a positive impact on the communities around them. (More information can be found on Chopra's website at and on YouTube at

Chopra produced and directed two acclaimed documentaries about domestic violence: Lead My Way: A Global Perspective of Domestic Violence and The Secret Crimes and the Silent Epidemic of Generations. The Secret Crimes and the Silent Epidemic of Generations won the CICFF Outstanding Achievement Award (2017), the CICFF Golden Fox Award, and the Silver Winner 2017 of the International Independent Film Award. Lead My Way: A Global Perspective of Domestic Violence was awarded the Best Shorts Competition in 2017.

With momentum generated from the films, she founded the nonprofit organization Lead My Way, which seeks to raise awareness about gender-based violence. Lead My Way hosts programming during Domestic Violence Awareness Month, which became virtual during the pandemic.