Issue #1 cover girl: Cookie Ruiz

We are looking forward to a high-impact first issue thanks to our cover subject, Cookie Ruiz, executive director of Ballet Austin.

In gearing up for GoodCause and attending a number of local philanthropic events, I kept hearing the some of the same names over and over again. Cookie’s was definitely one of them. What strikes me about her, aside from her being this very successful woman and mother, is how well respected she is among her peers. It occurred to me that there was something to be learned from this professional fundraiser.

It’s the goal of GoodCause to serve as a guide for readers who make local philanthropy and volunteerism a part of their lives. In thinking through the Cookie angle, I thought it might be useful to find out what magic she has as a fundraiser. As anyone who’s ever served on a board can attest, asking people for money can be awkward. Most of us aren’t prepared for the moment when we actually have to ask someone for a donation, and there’s definitely a talent to it. Cookie has that talent in spades, so I thought it would be interesting to pick her brain a little bit – and hear from the people who donate to her cause.

At the same time, I completely lucked out in finding one of the best freelance writers in Austin, Shermakaye Bass. (By the way, all GoodCause contributors so far have been the very best I could find – it really makes a difference and I hope you’ll be able to tell.) Shermakaye has contributed to the Statesman, Good Life, and Texas Highways, as well as People magazine, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, National Geographic Traveler, and others. She does a great profile, so I knew she’d be a good fit for the Cookie story.

Turns out I got lucky: Both women agreed. Not only that, Torquil found a really talented photographer to do the shoot. We think this story will set the bar high for the first issue and every issue to come. Here are a few gems from the profile:

“To Ruiz, it’s all about the importance of giving, not to whom one gives or how much. ‘I’d never like to think that a single dollar that came to us could have gone to Caritas or the Red Cross instead. It’s not an arts vs. social services type of giving.'”

“Ruiz wants to make sure that up-and-coming generations understand the importance of involvement in the nonprofit sector. She also wants them to realize there are careers to be had in nonprofit. Good ones….

‘So many young people are so focused on developing an exact path for their future and what they need to be,’ Ruiz says – often, to their detriment, she feels. ‘Something I learned from my father is, Never focus too much on the path ahead or on what you feel you have to be… as much as on knowing what you will never be. Because then, it’s a matter of opening yourself up to the serendipity of life.'”

Thanks to Cookie and Shermakaye for their help with our first issue.

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