The NMAF is deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Ruth Kelly, one of the great leaders in the Canadian magazine industry.
A public statement from Ruth’s family reads: “Our family is grieving the profound loss of Ruth Kelly. To us she was Ruth, a woman we loved, but to Albertans she was a distinguished business woman, a community leader, a philanthropist, and a role model.”
As a publisher, frequent guest speaker at events and conferences, and a former judge for the National Magazine Awards, Ruth was a passionate and steadfast advocate for magazines and the role they play in educating and informing Canadian readers. She believed magazines should strive for nothing less than outstanding quality and honest reporting.
Ruth Kelly was a champion of magazines, and always encouraged us to look to the best to set the bar for where our design and editorial went. She encouraged us to participate as volunteers, whether judges or board members, and took time to serve as a judge herself. Some of our proudest moments included gold and silver medals for unlimited [magazine] at the National Magazine Awards as well as many gold medals at the KRW Awards. Ruth had a passion for magazines that was contagious, and a stubborn streak about quality and relevance to audience that was impossible to argue with. Her influence on regional publishing and her dedication to service in the industry will be missed.
—Joyce Byrne, publisher of Avenue Magazine (Calgary) and past president, NMAF
Ruth was publisher and CEO of Venture Publishing, where she helmed the award-winning Alberta Venture and Alberta Oil magazines as their editor-in-chief. She served as president of the Alberta Magazine Publishers Association,
After graduating from the University of Alberta with a degree in poetry, Ruth worked in printing and advertising before purchasing Venture magazine in 1997 from the Alberta government. She turned Venture into a high-quality publication targeting the province’s business community, and built a strong team that also launched more than a dozen custom publications, including Alberta Innovators, Open Mind, Tracks & Treads, Grip, Leap, Signature, WE, PSAC, Hard Hat, and more.
Ruth cared. Deeply. She cared about magazines and media and great writing and smart creative people making a difference. She cared about her community. She cared greatly for the people in her life, both personal and professional. Ruth could wow a crowded hall with her wit and brains, and she could wow you with tiny kindnesses no one else would ever know about. She was all business but she only acted that way to partially hide the fact that, really, she was all heart. It’s a devastating loss.
—Curtis Gillespie, editor-in-chief of Eighteen Bridges, and director of the NMAF
Ruth was also a gracious volunteer for many organizations, and was recognized and sought after for her wisdom and acumen. A former Chamber of Commerce chairwoman, she was part of the University of Alberta’s School of Business Advisory Council. She also sat on the board of Magazines Canada and on the Mayor’s Business Roundtable. She served as chair of EPCOR’s Community Essentials Council and the Capital Region’s United Way campaign.
In 1998, Ruth was recognized as a Global Woman of Vision, a YWCA Woman of Distinction in the Entrepreneur category in 2003, and was the Allard Chair of Business at MacEwan School of Business in 2005. The Canadian Women in Communications selected Ruth for their 2008 Woman of the Year award, making her the first Albertan to receive this national honour. She received an honorary degree in business from NAIT in 2008, and an honorary doctorate from the University of Alberta in 2013.
In 2013, Ruth received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for her contributions to Canada. In the same year, Alberta Women Entrepreneurs awarded Ruth with their Celebration of Entrepreneurial Achievement recognition. The Alberta Congress Board also selected her as their 2014 Distinguished Workplace Leader award recipient.
She was the 2012 recipient of AMPA’s Achievement in Publishing Award, where her profile read, “Her respect for creativity and craftsmanship led her to publishing and made her one the industry’s most respected leaders.”
As a magazine community we are forever in Ruth Kelly’s debt for her inspiring leadership, and our thoughts are with her family, friends and colleagues in this time of grief and remembrance.
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