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Susan L. Ruddy

Photo of Susan L. Ruddy
Categories: 2012 Alumnae, Community Organizing, Conservation


Motivated by her father’s love of Jack London stories of the north and by observing her mother as a leader working across party lines in the Rhode Island state Legislature, Susan Ruddy chose to come to Alaska in 1964. With her, she brought the belief that a person can build compassionate communities and embrace and protect magnificent natural environments. Ruddy has devoted the past four decades to conserving Alaska’s unique ecosystems and crafting community infrastructure across the state.

Ruddy founded the Alaska Chapter of the Nature Conservancy in the 1980s to bring science to bear in the identification and protection of biologically unique areas. She also recognized the need to raise funds to accomplish goals, such as community development, so she went on to manage institutions to expand healthcare and education. Ruddy directed the Providence Alaska Foundation, where she championed the establishment of the Providence Cancer Center. The cancer center provides care to families, regardless of income, including the services of a “navigator” who assists them with the range of decisions about cancer treatments. Before Providence, Ruddy served as vice chancellor for University Advancement at the University of Alaska Anchorage, where she led a team in acquiring philanthropic gifts to expand science, engineering, and fine arts programs at UAA.

Ruddy has moved seamlessly among the private, public, and non-profit sectors of the state to bring Alaskans together to work out differences and to expand our understanding of one another. On behalf of the Mediation Institute, Ruddy facilitated resolution of land disputes between Alaska Native corporations, public owners, and environmental organizations. In the field of communications, she owned and operated a business that in 1979 produced the first footage of the Iditarod Sled dog race ever available for national television audiences.   

Ruddy raised two curious and kind children, both professionals, who continue to give back to their communities. Sean Ruddy lives in Anchorage with his wife, Pauline, and Lydia Ruddy resides in Indonesia. Susan Ruddy’s personal devotion to the out-of-doors is reflected in her  development of an oyster farm near Halibut Cove with her son his wife. Ruddy kayaks, hikes, and is an avid bird watcher.

Ruddy has volunteered her time as a board member of numerous organizations, including two terms on the National Board of the Smithsonian Institution, several terms on the Commonwealth North Board and on the Providence Region Board. Today she continues to serve on the Board of the Nature Conservancy. As a cancer survivor, she is a strong supporter of the Alaska Women’s Run.

Throughout her career, Ruddy has nurtured the skills of and expanded the knowledge of the next generation of Alaska’s managers, thinkers, and policy makers. She has inspired and mentored many young leaders who are caring for the state’s institutions and communities today. She regards their successes as her lasting contribution to Alaska.

Induction ceremony acceptance speech