Mary Ruth Coffey utilizes her vast experience in the fields of non-profit management, development, communications and advocacy to assist KNI clients. She holds a Juris Doctor from The John Marshall Law School, where she graduated first in her class, and completed a specialized program in International Human Rights Law at Oxford University with renowned human rights professors Rhadika Coomeraswamy (former Special Rapporteur to the United Nations on Violence Against Women) and Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na’im (Emory University).
She holds an MBA in International Business from Dominican University, and attended The University of Chicago Divinity School. Mary Ruth is also a certified yoga instructor.
Mary Ruth has dedicated her professional and personal life to the human rights, wellness and potential of individuals, families and communities around the globe, and to the health of nonprofit organizations.
She has served as the CEO, Creative Director, and/or Senior Development Officer of the following nonprofit organizations:
• Mental Health America of Illinois
• House of the Good Shepherd
• American Theater Company
• The Old Town School of Folk Music
• Connections for the Homeless
• Sarah’s Inn
• Friends of Battered Women and their Children (now, “Between Friends”)
In addition to these leadership roles, Mary Ruth has provided nonprofit consulting services to the following organizations:
• Oak/Leyden Developmental Services,
• Oak Park/River Forest Community Foundation
• Legacy Partners of Oak Park/River Forest
• Athena Foundation
• Woman Made Gallery
• Perceptual Dance Company
• Sunday Assembly Silicon Valley
Mary Ruth is also an accomplished Creative Director, and has designed, curated and organized the following impactful and beautiful fine arts projects:
• Manifesting Healthy Futures: 24/7 Voices and Visions of Wellness. Curated 24 creative nonfiction stories from writers with lived mental health experience and 24 visual artists to interpret these for an awareness, anti-stigma, national educational art exhibit and anthology. Curated and edited for Mental Health America of Illinois. www.mhai.org
• Shepherding our Futures: Art for Peace, Strength and Beauty. Women residents (survivors of domestic violence) wrote their visions of their futures on the themes of peace, strength and beauty, and visual artists captured the stories for an art exhibit in October 2013 and 2014. Curated for House of the Good Shepherd.
• Visions of Home. Men and women residents of homeless shelter authored their concepts of what home means to them, and visual artists illustrated these in myriad art forms. Curated for Connections for the Homeless.
• Fine Arts Festival. Diverse artists brought together to exhibit their art at Austin Boulevard Christian Church.
• Gospel Music Concert. Identified and secured local, diverse gospel music talent and directed community concert. Curated and directed for Austin Boulevard Christian Church.
Mary Ruth is also a highly skilled and passionate writer, public speaker and performer. Her published work and presentations include the following:
• Storytelling and Art as an Anti-Stigma Strategy, Presenter, 7th Annual International Anti-Stigma Conference, San Francisco, Feb. 2015; National Mental Health America conference, Washington DC, June 2015.
• Delight, Published in memoir section of San Mateo County’s Carry the Light Anthology, 2015.
• The End of Stigma: Storytelling and Art as Activism, Moderator of Panel, Woman Made Gallery, 2014.
• 69 Lengths, First Prize Winner, Memoir Section, San Mateo County Fair Carry the Light Anthology, 2014.
• Satisfied Mind, Memoir Storytelling Production, Irish American Heritage Center, Anam Cara, April 2014.
• Manna From Heaven, Sangam Literary Magazine, March 2009.
• The Vagina Monologues, DuSable Museum of African-American History, February 19, 2003; Park West, February 2004; Triton College, March 2004.
• Domestic Violence and the Law, Illinois State Bar Association Cable Television Production, February 2003.
• A Closer Look at Domestic Violence, AT&T Broadband Cable Television Production, December 2002.
• Domestic Violence is Everyone’s Issue, Pioneer Press Newspapers, October 2002.
• Weaving Women: Spider Woman’s Call To Connectiveness, Of A Like Mind, Winter 2000.
• Myth Over Matter: Exploring the Reality of Domestic Violence, Panel Discussion Facilitation for Friends of Battered Women and their Children, Summer 2000.
• Remembering the Maiden In Each of Us: WomenSpace in Mexico City & Environs, Of A Like Mind, 2000.
• Celebration & Integration: Moving Beyond Crisis, A Woman’s Write, Summer 2000.
• WomanSpace: A Safe Place For Sharing, A Woman’s Write, Summer 2000.
• From Comparison to Paradox to the Dichotomous Nature of International Human Rights and Feminist Perspectives of Female Circumcision as a Violation of the Human Rights of Women, International Human Rights Digest of DePaul University, Winter 2000.
• Domestic Violence: An Epidemic of Violence Against Women. Lecture at Harold Washington College, 1999.
Mary Ruth’s volunteer activities include:
• Woman Made Gallery, Treasurer, 2005-2008; Advisory Board Member, present.
• Illinois Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Director, Grants Manager, 1999-2004.
• Illinois Women’s Funding Federation, Secretary and Fundraising Chair, 1999-2001.
• Pre-Employment Skills Trainer – Women Employed
• Consultant – Austin Tutoring Program
• Literacy Volunteer – Literacy Volunteers of America
• Coordinator – Oak Park/River Forest H.S. Career Day
• Member – Dialogue: Racism, Northwestern University
• Coordinator & Participant, Peace Relations Trip to the Soviet Union (1989)