Ruth Ravitz Smith is a local nonprofit founder and leader, public affairs consultant, and mentor who actively serves as a member of both the UWCFA Board of Directors and the Campaign Cabinet. In her true servant leadership style, Ruth also serves as the board liaison for the newly relaunched Retire United initiative.
Ruth is an avid golfer (she met her husband on a putting green) and animal lover who is fun, energetic, and inspiring. Dedicated to improving our community through direct action, she has been a consistent source of support for our team.
Tell us a little about your professional background:
I spent most of my professional life in Washington, DC working in and around government. From a Congressional intern at age 19 to a Global Government Affairs VP for GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy, with many stops in between. When I came to Wilmington, I “throttled back” and rejoined the public sector, serving as the chief communications officer for New Hanover County. It was a great way to get to know the community and serve the people in our growing region.
How long have you lived in the Cape Fear Area?
I have been coming to Wilmington since the late 80s, bought a second home here in 2008, and moved here full-time in 2015.
How long have you been involved with UWCFA and what started the relationship?
I was a donor going back to my days at GEH, giving here vs in the DC office where I was based. I loved playing in the annual GE golf tournament for UWCFA. I became a member of the board while working for the county and continue to enjoy serving.
Why do you continue to support UWCFA?
Being on the UWCFA board gives me the best overview of the challenges our community is facing and the remarkable efforts to address the needs. I see the results and I’m happy to serve in a role that shares the UWCFA story with others.
When did you begin volunteering?
As a kid I suppose…but as an adult, I was a literacy volunteer in my 20s, served on the National Capital Area Big Brothers, Big Sisters board (and was a Big Sis), and later taught English in a Hispanic program in Alexandria, VA (eventually going back to school to become certified). Barbara Bush spoke to my college graduating class when she was the Second Lady; I think her challenge to us to be “Points of Light” really struck home with me. I cannot remember a time that I didn’t volunteer in some capacity.
How has volunteering had an impact on you?
I get so much joy out of seeing others succeed. Volunteering allows me to have a small part in helping.
Tell us about a time that was especially meaningful for you as a volunteer?
Without a doubt our inaugural Honor Flight – just watch the video and see what our all-volunteer leadership team and volunteers pulled off.
What is your favorite volunteer role?
HFCFA – It was a dream to get the program restarted in Wilmington and we’ve done it!
If you could encourage someone else to volunteer, what would you say?
Find what grabs your passion and takes you in a direction that you may not have expected – Retire United is a great option for those new to the community or newly retired. You don’t have to show up every day, but we’ll provide great opportunities to give back on your time schedule.
Is there anything else you want to share about volunteering?
If you are ever feeling down, the best thing to do is get out and help others – stuff backpacks, renovate or build a home, tutor a student, deliver meals on wheels…whatever it is, it will help your spirits!
What organizations do you volunteer with locally?
• Honor Flight of the Cape Fear Area (Founder and President)
• WILMA Advisory Board member
• CEN Mentor at UNCW
• Jewish Film Festival (Board member)
• Member of the Public Policy Committee at the Wilmington Chamber of Commerce
• Last Book Read: Being Mortal by Atul Gawande
“A great read for those of us with aging parents” – Ruth
• First Concert: “Foghat at the Commack Arena on Long Island sometime in the 70s (note, they lived in my hometown)”