Ruth D. Shepherd was born and raised in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Oklahoma State University. However, once she moved to Little Rock in 1970, it’s safe to say she found her home. Indeed, ever since she took her first teaching position at Hall High School, she has built quite an impressive resume and has garnered much respect and admiration among her peers throughout the state.
Many of these students are international students for whom she hosts holiday meals and other social gatherings to ensure the international community feels welcome in Arkansas. Caroline is also a giver of her time, talent, and treasure to organizations such as WAND (Women’s Action for New Directions), Episcopal Peace Fellowship, Arkansas Coalition for Peace and Justice, and the Arkansas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty.
In 1977 Shepherd accepted a position as Adjunct Faculty at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock teaching Freshman Composition. She also volunteered her time on the Little Rock School Board beginning in 1984, although she left both positions in 1987 when she took the position of Development Director of the Arkansas Repertory Theatre. Between 1994 and 1999, she won multiple PRISM awards from the Arkansas Public Relations Society of America as well as an Arts & Humanities Award (AHA) Cultural Spirit Award in 2000.
The year 2000 was also the year that Ruth came to Just Communities of Arkansas where she faithfully served as Executive Director for 16 years. During that time, she won numerous accolades such as:
- 2006 Cliff Fanin Baker Award from the Arkansas Rep Theatre
- 2008 Junior League of Little Rock Sustainer of the Year,
- 2009 Fried of the Community by Stonewall Democrats,
- 2012 Professional of the Year Award from the College of Professional Studies at UA Little Rock,
- 2014 Arkansas Business Non-Profit Executive of the Year Finalist,
- 2016 Pulaski County Youth Services, Lifetime Achievement Award.
And if that’s not enough, in 2016, Ruth was named Grand Marshall of the Pride Parade celebrating Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual, and Transgender persons. She also wrote and published her book, “The Company We Keep,” in 2013, containing over 130 biographies of Humanitarian and Biltz award winners for Just Communities of Arkansas.
In 2020, Ruth was also presented with the Association of Fundraising Professionals Lifetime Achievement Award for all her selfless works.
We are proud to be presenting Ruth with the 2022 Humanitarian of the Year Award to recognize all the work she’s done, not only to recognize so many others’ hard work, but to also ensure that their memories will live on forever. Today, Ruth still lives in Little Rock with her husband Steve Shepherd. The couple have two adult children and four grandchildren.