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Jun 10, 2024

‘She is irreplaceable’: Tributes paid to IR pioneer Carol Ruth

Trailblazing communications leader remembered with great fondness by former colleagues and friends

A wave of tributes have been paid to Carol Ruth, the pioneering IR and communications adviser, who passed away last year.

Her life and career were celebrated last week at a memorial service in Manhattan, hosted by her daughter Amelia Ruth, with many former colleagues from the IR world in attendance.

During her trailblazing career, Ruth helped set up and define many of today’s best practices for IR and PR professionals. She also acted as a friend and mentor to many in the industry, inspiring a new generation of communications leaders.

Carol Ruth
Carol Ruth

She began her career at Hill & Knowlton, where she spent 18 years and rose through the ranks to become senior vice president in the financial division. After that, she joined Dewe Rogerson, establishing the firm’s US arm and growing it into a successful cross-border IR operation.

Later, Ruth served as chairman and CEO of Edelman Financial Worldwide, where she ran the IR and financial PR practices. In 1999, she founded her own advisory business, The Ruth Group, focused on offering strategic communications counsel to companies in the healthcare sector.

In 2010, Ruth received the lifetime achievement award from IR Magazine in recognition of her decades of service to the profession. Her career also includes the milestone of becoming NIRI National’s first female chair.

Several tributes to Ruth are collected below.

Felicia Vonella, IR consultant
‘I owe my career in investor relations to Carol. Hardly a week goes by where I don’t tell a story involving her, think about what she would do in certain situations or mention her in conversation with random people in our industry. Every time Carol’s name comes up in conversation, someone has a story to tell.

‘I feel fortunate to have not only worked with Carol but also to have spent quality time with her, including being there for some big milestones and some challenging times. The most notable of the good times, of course, was the arrival of Amelia. Amelia, you know that you were everything to Carol, and two minutes into a conversation with Carol you could tell how proud she was of you and your accomplishments.

‘In closing, I owe a lot more than my career to Carol. She took me to my first opera. She took me to my first ballet. She took me to my first black-tie event. Her love of art and books stays with me today. She also assembled a group of people… back in the 1980s and early 1990s… who I call my friends today, 35-plus years on.’

Angela Dailey, founding partner, DAI Partners
‘I am Angela Dailey, AKA little sister, best friend to Carol for more than 40 years. I don’t remember the first time we met but we became friends at a chance meeting at Gurney’s Spa in the early 1980s. We talked for more than an hour between treatments and the rest is history. We became very close; she was truly my big sister. When our family moved to California in 1991, Carol took me in when I visited New York. Thus many, many early mornings and late-night intimate chats [ensued]. We shared great, fun times – too many to count – much laughter, shopping trips, sharing of clothes, jewelry and more! She got me through difficult times and I like to think I reciprocated. 

‘The memory I would like to share is Carol’s path to adopting her beautiful daughter Amelia more than 21 years ago. It was a long journey over a couple of years and involving several trips to Vietnam. Two trips brought great frustration and she came home with no Amelia. It was very difficult to get Amelia out of Vietnam and pass through all the legal hoops. We spent hours on the phone with lots of tears during this tough period. Most would have given up. But our Carol would never, never give up and got it done – Amelia brought such joy to her and all of us who shared in her upbringing, especially me.

‘Carol was an incredible role model, a rock and roll star to her little sister. She gave me insightful and often brilliant advice [and] was a fantastic and caring friend. I am incredibly grateful for all the years and closeness we shared. I miss her, but I am so happy that I remain very close to Amelia. I know Carol would want that.’

Deb Wasser, vice president of IR, Etsy
‘I’m fortunate to have spent the first decade of my career working for Carol – and I feel like I hit the career jackpot to have been taken under her wing right out of college and given opportunities that at that time I didn’t even imagine were possible in a field I didn’t even know existed.

‘She taught me how to listen; that knowledge and data are foundational to IR, but human connections and empathy will build trust with stakeholders and help you stand apart; and that becoming a successful business woman requires smarts, tenacity, some luck and really (really) hard work. 

‘Carol was also fiercely loyal, incredibly kind and ahead of her time, such as when she creatively developed a part-time, remote working situation for me when I was a new mom (long before Zoom!). We remember her for being the spark that lit so many friendships that remain in place to this day and for her enduring spirit. She is irreplaceable.’

Stephanie Carrington, managing director, ICR Westwicke
‘Carol Ruth was a female pioneer in the field of strategic investor relations during her career as she broke through many barriers. I met her when she was screening job candidates for an internal IR role at her largest pharmaceutical client just a few months after she opened The Ruth Group. She faced both opportunities and challenges with determination and poise as she built her agency and served clients from across the healthcare sector and other industries.

‘Carol was a driven entrepreneur and passionate about client service. She demonstrated skill and determination when it came to pursuing and retaining clients, leveraging contacts and establishing mutual connections. I continue to carry many of these life lessons throughout my IR career in the life sciences field.’

Fern Lazar, managing partner and global health practice lead, Finn Partners
‘The world knows Carol as one of the pioneers of investor relations who laid the foundation for many of the norms and practices that thousands of publicly listed companies use today. She had the tenacity to propel herself from an entry-level position at Hill & Knowlton to lead that famous agency’s cutting-edge financial practice.

‘I am so grateful that fate crossed my path with Carol’s as she embarked on the adventure of establishing Dewe Rogerson in the US. My journey with Carol lasted 12 years, but her impact on my life and those of hundreds of professionals will endure forever. Carol was generous, inspiring, tenacious and scrappy.

‘She challenged me to do things I never did before and gave us the confidence to soar. Carol taught us to do our research, ask questions and pay attention to every detail, no matter how small. A fierce friend, she never stopped thinking about those she loved and showered them with gifts and kindness. May she rest in peace knowing that her impact is seared on our hearts and minds and that the world will remember her as a legend.’