About The Harnisch Foundation

We believe in a fairer world that works better for everyone, with special attention on gender and racial equity.

When the Harnisch Foundation was created in 1998, our grantmaking budget was tiny, we wrote the checks by hand, and we measured our impact through the stories of individuals who’d benefited from the grants. As our budget expanded, so did our vision.

We began investing in larger strategic projects aimed at creating a fairer world that works better for everyone, with special attention on gender and racial equity.

We chose three ways to fund visionary social change work:

LEADERSHIP We invest in leadership development, including our signature Funny Girls™ curriculum.
STORYTELLING We invest in creative storytelling, including changing the ratio of storytellers and stories to be more inclusive of women and other people of color.
CONVENINGS We know there’s no substitute for getting together in person, where relationships deepen and ideas flourish. Meetings are magnifiers.

In the decades since our founding, we have set our sights on bigger visions, and some of our grants are bigger, but we still have a heart for the smaller grant that makes a huge difference. That’s why we’re the home of the Awesome Without Borders chapter of the Awesome Foundation. Giving $1000 every week to something awesome keeps us close to our beginnings.

People tell us that from the beginning, our hallmarks have been:

  • Early investment in causes, leaders, new ideas
  • Willingness to make a fast decision
  • Getting the biggest possible bang for the buck
  • Connecting like-minds and making key introductions
  • Offering valuable coaching and guidance along with (or instead of) a grant
  • Shifting rapidly to acknowledge changing realities

In our third decade, we’re committed to living up to what we’re known for, doing better where we can. (If you have suggestions, tell us.)

OUR HISTORY

Ruth Ann Harnisch has always been a pioneer. Her ceiling-shattering career as a media personality in Nashville, TN was, in many ways, the catalyst for nearly 5 decades of patronage. Two of those decades are encapsulated in the Harnisch Foundation which she created with her husband Bill Harnisch in 1998. Below we’ve provided a snapshot of landmark moments along her journey. Enjoy!

MEET THE TEAM

Ruth Ann Harnisch

Ruth Ann Harnisch, Founder & President

A “recovering journalist,” Ruth Ann started out as a teen deejay in her native Buffalo, NY. Her media career spanned three decades and includes Emmy-nominated television reporting, becoming the first woman to anchor Nashville, TN’s CBS-TV affiliate, hosting a daily talk-radio program on WLAC-AM, and 17 years as a columnist for the Nashville Banner.

Bill Harnisch

Bill Harnisch, Founder

William F. Harnisch is the Chief Investment Strategist at Peconic Partners, managing all aspects of the firm’s investment process. Bill began his career at Chase Manhattan Bank in 1968 (later known as Chase Investors Management), where he was Vice-President responsible for Special Equity Investments.  He joined Forstmann-Leff Associates (FLA) in 1978 when the business managed $300 million.  He began managing FLA in 1984, eventually managing assets of over $5 billion, and became the majority shareholder in 1989. With a strong history in absolute return, FLA entered the hedge fund business in 1986.  The long-only business was sold in 1997, and Mr. Harnisch left FLA at the end of 2004 to form Peconic Partners and concentrate on the hedged product.

Jenny Raymond

Jenny Raymond, Executive Director

Jenny Raymond is the Executive Director of the New York City based Harnisch Foundation, and for over two decades has been driving the foundation’s mission to advance gender equity. She has administered more than $10 million dollars to support bold ideas, effective leaders, and creative communities. From investigating sustainable new models in journalism to supporting courageous storytelling to championing innovative solutions for the leadership development of women and girls, Jenny is on the forefront of truly creative philanthropy. In 2013, she founded the HF’s “Funny Girls,” a ground-breaking program that teaches leadership skills through improv to middle school girls, and continues to lead the program as it flourishes. She has spoken at TEDWomen, National Coalition of Girls Schools, and the Girl Scouts National Convention, and has appeared on NBC Nightly News, in Glamour, and in a video produced by Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls.