Women Moving Millions recently recognized Ruth Ann Harnisch, our founding donor, as their donor of the month. Ruth Ann is certainly deserving of the attention she is getting there, and we congratulate her on the honor. Take a minute below to read through a summary of WMM’s newsletter write-up about her.
Ruth Ann got her first media jobs when she was still in high school, launching a career in newspaper, radio, and television that lasted through three decades. Now, Ruth Ann likes to check out whatever’s new in media, way past Twitter and Facebook, on to Storify and Instagram and the next bleeding-edge innovation. Because these new technologies are rewriting the rules of journalism as she knew and practiced it, Ruth Ann has devoted some of her philanthropic resources to the evolution of information gathering and dissemination.
So her grantees include newfangled projects like Spot.us and the Women’s Media Center. She is the founding funder of the Center for Sustainable Journalism at Kennesaw State University, where projects like the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange show how good information can produce enough revenue to pay for itself in a troubling time for journalism.
“Ethically gathered, reliably sourced, well-written, high-quality journalism helps people make important decisions about the way they live,” says Ruth Ann. “It’s essential that we find ways to create and pay for it in the digital age.”
Ruth Ann was recently named an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters by Baruch College, where she and her husband Bill were instrumental in the 2009 launch of Baruch College’s Department of Journalism and the Writing Professions.
In 2010, Ruth Ann took a sabbatical year, and her “sabbatical mindset” continues. “I slowed down for the first time in my entire life,” says Ruth Ann. “I am not the same person I was before, and I can’t go back to business as usual.” Instead of creating new projects like the Institute of Coaching at Harvard Medical School’s McLean Hospital, she’s more inclined to walk the labyrinth in the yard at her home in Hampton Bays, New York, or the labyrinth in Freeport, Grand Bahama Island, where she lives for part of the year. “The labyrinth is a metaphor,” she says. “There’s only one path. We’re all on it. And we’re all going to end up at the same place, so it behooves us to learn to walk the path in peace together.”