7 Questions with Dr. Terrance R. Ruth
Name: Dr. Terrance R Ruth
Current title: President
Current organisation: Justice Love Foundation
Terrance Ruth has been an advocate for public education, serving as a teacher, principal and the parent of a son who is entering Kindergarten. Dr. Ruth has led social justice organizations at the national, state and local levels with a reputation for being the implementation expert. He now will bring that advocacy and execution expertise to his work with the Justice Love Foundation.
Since 2011, Terrance has worked with the students of Wake County, advocating for a high-quality public education for all students. When he moved to Wake County, as an Alternative Principal, the school district needed support with special education student suspensions. His hard work changed that, as the Wake County Public School is still using many of the interventions he established while an administrator.
Terrance’s father was born and raised in Southern Pines North Carolina and Terrance’s son was born in Raleigh. North Carolina is a significant part of his history and will be a part of his future with this son entering Kindergarten in 2019. Terrance graduated from Oglethorpe University with a degree in History. After working as a History and Science teacher, he earned a Master’s Degree in School Administration and Management from Nova Southeastern University, and he went on to work in K-12 schools across Florida and in Wake County. Terrance also mentors Wake County Principals. Terrance also completed his PhD in Public Affairs where he went on to work for the Friday Institute at North Carolina State University, where he joined the team that completed the Race to the Top Evaluation for North Carolina.
Terrance was tasked to lead the NC NAACP State Conference as the Executive Director under the Presidency of Dr. Barber and Dr. Spearman. Dr. Ruth also held the National Director of Programing position for the Repairers of the Breach. His work with the Repairers allowed for him to be a part of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for a Moral Revival’s launch.
Terrance is committed to keeping our communities, schools, and our growth a process that includes everyone. He understands that we need a city that is enjoyed by all people.
1. What have you found most challenging as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise?
The most challenging aspects of leading an organization are maintaining the integrity of the mission and vision in an ever-evolving work culture. Within this work culture, there are ways in which we must uphold the internal principles that create a strong external brand.
2. How did you become a CEO or executive of a large enterprise? Can you please briefly tell the story?
I have a PhD in Public Affairs and entered education policy research. From there, I was made aware of the social disparities that meet within our education system. From there I had the privilege to work alongside Dr. Barber in the North Carolina NAACP State Conference. From there we launched the Justice Love Foundation.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
I studied planning and organizing and produced a routine that includes my secretary. We have a monthly plan, weekly plan, and daily plan. Each week we review all three. This allows me to have clarity on how my larger goals impact my daily goals.
4. What’s the most recent significant leadership lesson you’ve learned?
I learned that intergenerational coalition building is critical to healthy growth.
5. What one book has had the most profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?
I would say that John Maxwell's Failing Forward has had a significant impact on how I evaluate my own, my peers, and those I lead decisions. I realized that we make progress even in failure. We make strides even in underwhelming performances.
6. How do you build leadership capacity in a large enterprise?
Building capacity is a staggered effort that starts with the quality of recruitment. After recruitment, it is the quality of professional development. After development, it is access to opportunities to demonstrate growth. I believe that innovation is a ground-up process and allowing opportunities for all levels of the organization to contribute to new knowledge and understanding can lead to building leadership capacity.
7. If you had to pick just one story, what would be the most meaningful story from your time as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise so far?
I would like to highlight the story that I witnessed from a longtime community organizer. She believed that the experts reside within the community that we target. She allowed me to learn that observing and learning is more important than talking and teaching. She shared that the human centered design placed the individuals in the community at the focus of innovation.