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:

LEADERSHIPWe invest in leadership development, including our signature Funny Girls™ curriculum.
STORYTELLINGWe invest in creative storytelling, including changing the ratio of storytellers and stories to be more inclusive of women and other people of color.
CONVENINGSWe 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.)


Ruth Ann Harnisch

Ruth Ann Harnisch, Founder & President

Ruth Ann founded the Harnisch Foundation in 1998, not only fully aware of the unfairness that allows families of wealth to shelter income from taxes but also determined to make the best use of this advantage. (Neither she nor any family member is on the Foundation’s payroll.) She’s a traitor to her economic class by working to end her own tax breaks. In the meantime, she purposes herself to use this privilege on behalf of others.

Bill Harnisch

Bill Harnisch, Founder

Bill Harnisch, co-founder of the Harnisch Foundation, bought his first share of stock when he was barely into his teens. That was over 60 years ago and Bill’s fascination with markets continues to this day. His success in the equity investment business provides the money that fuels the philanthropy.

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 $12 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 TEDWomenNational 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.

Jill Frutkin

Jill Frutkin, Education Manager, Funny Girls Program

Jill Frutkin is the Education Manager for the Funny Girls Program. She’s an innovative educator with an extensive background in the performing arts. Jill received her BFA from NYU Tisch and is a founding member and Board member of The TEAM, a Brooklyn based theatre company dedicated to creating new work about the experience of living in America today. With The TEAM, she has written and performed award winning new plays to critical acclaim domestically and abroad since 2004. Jill received her MST from Pace as an NYC Teaching Fellow and worked for many years as a special education teacher in NYC’s District 75. She went on to work for NYCTF in training and supporting new Special Education Fellows.