SupporTED

Ruth Ann Harnisch

Ruth Ann Harnisch is a writer, an investor, a coach, and a philanthropist, with some odd jobs in her past (lion handler, telephone time-and-temperature voice, calligrapher).

Ruth Ann leads The Harnisch Foundation, which has given grants to hundreds of nonprofit organizations since its founding in 1998. She is a proponent of creative philanthropy whose unusual charitable investments have landed her on Oprah and the Today show.

She is also an enthusiastic patron of TED and their “Ideas Worth Spreading.” Ruth Ann was a founding funder of the TED Fellows program. With Renee Freedman, she co-created and co-directs SupporTED, which provides free coaching and mentoring support to the TED Fellows. Ruth Ann is one of some 200 members of Women Moving Millions, each of whom has given at least one million dollars to causes that advance and empower women and girls.

Maybe you know her from her broadcasting or newspaper work, as Ruth Ann is a "recovering journalist." Starting out as a teen DJ in her native Buffalo, NY, she spent three decades in media work, including Emmy-nominated television reporting and anchoring at the CBS-TV affiliate in Nashville, TN, a daily talk-radio program on WLAC-AM, and 17 years as a columnist for the Nashville Banner.

After retiring from her journalism career, she chaired the board of More Than Money, a national nonprofit assisting top wealth-holders to put their money where their values are. (For free access to back issues of the journal, visit More Than Money) That organization’s coaching program inspired Ruth Ann to learn about the emerging field of professional coaching.  Now a board-certified professional coach with a Master Coach designation from the International Association of Coaching,  she served on the International Coach Federation Foundation Board of Trustees and the International Association of Coaching’s Board of Governors, as well as the board of the Thomas J. Leonard Foundation.  She became a Co-Founder of The Foundation of Coaching with David Goldsmith to create an independent resource for coaching information. The Foundation of Coaching became The Institute of Coaching at Harvard Medical School’s McLean Hospital with a founding grant from the Harnisch Foundation.

Ruth Ann was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Kennesaw State University, where she was the founding funder of the Center For Sustainable Journalism, home of the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange and the publication Youth Today. Baruch College awarded the honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters acknowledging her contributions to the Department of Journalism and the Writing Professions. Grants from the Harnisch Foundation created Studio H and the Harnisch Journalism Projects, along with full scholarships for select students.

She has also served on the board of the Sigma Delta Chi Foundation, the nonprofit arm of the Society of Professional Journalists (of which she has been a member for 40 years). She is a member of the International Women’s Forum, Rachel’s Network, the National Association of Television Arts and Sciences, the Buffalo Broadcasters Association, and is a lifetime member of the Broadcasters Foundation.