It was 1997. Jennifer Ruppe was a young lesbian
– out to her family, but few others.
Ellen DeGeneres had just come out. But in Jennifer’s rural hometown of Shelby, NC, she was still careful about who knew she loved Melissa Etheridge.
When it came to deciding where she would go to college, she chose very carefully.
“I came to Greensboro because I thought it was a more gay-friendly city,” she says.
Two decades later, Jennifer is now leading the charge to enhance Greensboro’s LGBTQIA-friendly reputation, as the new executive director of Guilford Green Foundation. She began Jan. 1.
Jennifer got her undergraduate and Master’s degrees from UNCG. She has spent her entire professional career working for nonprofits in the Triad, including Big Brothers, Big Sisters of the Central Piedmont and the United Way’s of Forsyth County and Greater Greensboro.
“I want to make sure that I wake up every day and know what I do makes a difference,” Jennifer says. “It’s just the only thing that has every excited me.”
She comes to Guilford Green Foundation from the United Way of Greater Greensboro, where she helped develop the Family Success Center (FSC). The FSC aims to reduce poverty by offering integrated services to low-income families. It was the United Way’s effort to expand its mission and offer programs. Jennifer was the project manager who launched the FSC.
Jennifer is excited to bring these nonprofit skills to Guilford Green Foundation.
“I see it as a merger between my professional and my personal interests,” Jennifer says.
She plans to spend the next few months listening to Guilford Green Foundation volunteers, leaders, donors, and other stakeholders. Then she’ll work with the board to develop a strategic plan.
“I want to reengage inactive donors. I want to engage a broader section of our community, to make sure we are responsive to the needs of our entire LGBTQIA community,” Jennifer says. “This is our 20th year. I think we have a great opportunity to chart the course for our future while we celebrate our successes.”
Jennifer is married to Becky Hale. They have three dogs and a cat.