On Leadership, Connection, and Howard’s End: Meet Jane Ratteree

Editor’s Note: This is another in our series of stories related to WIF’s Grants Committee work. As a former Grants Committee chair, Jane Ratteree is a member of the Grants Leadership Team, which provides guidance and counsel and oversight to on-going grants committee work.

By Candice LangstonRatteree, Jane

Few members exemplify the passion and dedication WIF is known for more than Jane Ratteree. I had the pleasure of interviewing her recently about her decade-long involvement and the impact WIF has made on our community.

Q: You’ve had multiple leadership roles within WIF. What are some things you’ve learned?  Like anything else in life, the more you put into WIF, the more you get out of it. Our members’ ability to participate varies over time, and that’s fine. But if you have time to join a committee or serve on a Grants work team, membership is much more meaningful. You will meet other involved and committed women who share your interests, and who will become your friends.

Q: For members who may be interested in a WIF committee or other leadership position, could you suggest how to get more involved?  Just jump in. Once I joined WIF, I signed up for the arts work team of the Grants Committee, and I served on that for a few years, eventually becoming the work team leader. I then chaired the Grants Committee and served on the Board of Directors for a few years. But that is just one example of the many ways our members can get involved. If you have time and energy to offer, WIF can put your talents to work!

Q: One thing many WIF members value about their involvement with the organization is the opportunity to be influential and participate in women’s leadership. Can you give us some personal perspective on this?  I’ve had the opportunity to work with and observe many of WIF’s wonderful leaders, and I believe that the most effective leaders are those who focus more on getting the job done than on being visible or influential. WIF is an organization with ambitious goals, and it takes a lot of effort and dedication to achieve them. Those who work hard and share the credit are the kinds of leaders that WIF values and admires.

Q: You are passionate about the arts. How has WIF impacted our community’s cultural life over the years?  I’m very proud of the arts grants we’ve made, and I think that arts and culture is an important focus area for WIF. One of my personal favorites is our grant to Actors Theatre of Charlotte for creation of the nuVoices new play festival. This festival presents new plays in staged readings and gives the winning play a full production at ATC. Hundreds of new plays are submitted each year, and the festival has become an important way for new work to gain exposure. nuVoices enriches our local theatre community and supports the work of playwrights nationwide. I’ve attended the festival a number of times, and each time I go, I am proud of what our grant has made possible.

Q: What is the meaning of philanthropy to you, Jane?  I think of Howard’s End, where E.M. Forster wrote, “Only connect! That was the whole of her sermon.” Philanthropy connects us to our fellow men and women. It directs our focus outward and leads us to think beyond our own circumstances and self-interest. Once we have connected, we understand the importance of making our world a more just and civilized place for all of us to live. And when we understand that, we are inspired to offer our time and our resources to achieve the goal.


More stories and profiles about our remarkable WIF members can be found here