Ruby Bright: a national beacon of light
Leadership is pivotal to nonprofit success, and Ruby Bright exemplifies the best of inclusive leadership – a person focused on her goals, not public acclaim. As the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Women’s Foundation for a Greater Memphis, Bright is a nationally recognized leader who heads a transformational women-powered organization that is fighting poverty and changing lives for generations of women and their children. We salute Bright as she prepares to retire after 22 years of leading WFGM. Today WFGM plays a major role as a backbone organization, investing $1.5 million in 34 organizations in 2022 alone. Ruby is always at the table for the community and for major stakeholders. She is a visionary who focuses on team building – believing that the power of “we” is so much stronger than the power of “me.” She has brought together private funders to leverage public dollars and change the lives of Memphis women, and the City itself.
Bright demonstrates the utmost skill in bringing out the best in others, encouraging people to share their specific talents as part of a collective move towards justice. She builds partnerships and collaborations at every turn and encourages others to do the same. Ruby is excellent at building and sustaining relationships across racial, gender, and class lines, a must-have skill if one is to advance social change in a southern American city. She never forgets her past, her roots, and who she is as a powerful, spiritual person. She is humble and accessible; a mother, wife, grandmother, and more. Her warmth and sensitivity are something you can feel.
Ruby is an intuitive, a great judge of people, a risk taker, a fighter, and a woman who is in tune with the community. She is politically astute, and everything she does is first class. She is deeply connected to her board, working closely with a cross section of women leaders to advance the lives of women and their children. Together they have created a strong culture of philanthropy that moves the foundation forward.
If you want a prototype for a nonprofit leader, you need to see Ruby in action. On an annual basis she creates a sense of urgency, excitement, engagement, and a fresh appeal. She is in the 1% club – one of the best nonprofit leaders. Bright is well-known and respected locally and nationally. She centers the lived experience of poor women and girls as the focus of her work. As a mentor she brings out the best in the next generation, opening the door for others. She brings people of diverse backgrounds to the table and keeps them at the table over time and through challenging conversations and decisions. She is an exemplar who places women and girls first and is always aware that as a Black woman from Mississippi hers is a nontraditional voice, an historically silenced voice, and a voice – that when combined with others – can call forth action that acknowledges the essential human dignity of every woman, man, and child.
Copyright 2022 – Mel and Pearl Shaw of Saad&Shaw – Comprehensive Fund Development Services. Let us help you plan for 2022! Video and phone conferencing services are always available. Call us at (901) 522-8727. www.saadandshaw.com