When women achieve economic security, they spread their success to their children, community and country.
When women help other women, everyone benefits.
These truths have only recently gained the international attention of economists and philanthropists, but members of the women’s funding movement have promoted them for many years.
One of these pioneers, Ruby Bright, was recently honored for her efforts to improve the lives of women and their children, both in the Memphis community and across the globe.
Bright received the Changing the Face of Philanthropy Award from the Women’s Funding Network on April 8 during the group’s annual conference in Brooklyn, N.Y. The award is presented annually to individuals, funds and foundations that have demonstrated a commitment to gender equity, diversity and social justice through philanthropy.
Bright has made “profound and influential contributions” to the women’s funding movement and “has been instrumental in bringing change to the Greater Memphis area and beyond,” wrote Ana Oliveira and Christine Grumm, board chair and president/CEO of the Women’s Funding Network, which represents more than 160 women’s funds across six continents.
As the executive director and chief administrative officer of the Women’s Foundation for a Greater Memphis (WFGM), Bright has increased grant distribution by more than 300 percent over the last decade. Since 1995, the WFGM has awarded $5 million to 330 programs and 120 grantee agencies.
Starting in 2004, Bright has led a groundbreaking public-private partnership between the WFGM, the city of Memphis and the Memphis Housing Authority to support mixed-income housing and urban revitalization. Under Bright’s leadership, more than $7 million has been raised for the Memphis HOPE project, targeting 700 former public housing residents. The WFGM is the first women’s fund to lead such a program and now serves as a national model for success.
The WFGM’s mission is to encourage philanthropy, foster leadership among women and enable women and children to reach their full potential. Bright, who has more than 25 years of experience in nonprofit operations management, marketing and fund development, plays a vital role in spreading this mission to a broad audience and demonstrating the power of women helping women.
The core values promoted by Bright and the WFGM have universal applications, far beyond Memphis, or even the United States. “Collectively, economically secure women create secure nations and a more stable globe,” explained the Women’s Funding Network.
As an extension of her commitment to women’s empowerment, Bright is involved with numerous national and local civic organizations. From 2008 to 2010, she served as the board chair of the Women’s Funding Network. She is a founding member of the Black Women Donor Action Group and the Women’s Economic Security Campaign.
Bright has been honored by the Memphis Urban League, Girls Inc., Girl Scouts of the Mid-South, Leadership Memphis and many other groups. In 2006, the WFGM was named the MPACT Memphis Foundation of the Year.