Representative Deborah Ruggiero (D-Dist. 74, Jamestown, Middletown)

March is Women’s History Month, a time to celebrate the contributions of women in all aspects of our society. WhatsUpNewp reached out to successful women in several professions, asking just a few questions. We will run their responses throughout the month.

Rep. Deborah Ruggiero, D – District 74 (Jamestown, Middletown

WUN: What one, two or three women have inspired you? Please also tell us why these individuals have been important to you.

These are two very gutsy women who helped frame the history of our great country: 

  1. Eleanor Roosevelt has been a mentor and inspiration in my career as a broadcaster and a public servant.  She wrote a book in 1933 called IT’S UP TO THE WOMEN where she said, ‘only women in power would consider the needs of women without power. 

 As First Lady she would hold press conferences at the White House for women reporters only; except back then there were no women reporters, only men!  Eleanor Roosevelt forced newspapers to hire women reporters if they wanted to cover the First Lady of the While House. Pretty progressive for the 1930s! 

As a former broadcaster and reporter, I always appreciate women who came before me and helped to clear the path.   

  1. Harriet Tubman because she was determined, fearless, and tenacious. Her spirituality and moral compass guided her to lead 75 slaves to freedom.  She was also the first woman to head an expedition of Union Soldiers in the Civil War who freed another 750 more slaves. Amazing death-defying work despite the danger. She lived to be 91 years old and her last words were: “I go to prepare a place for you.”  

WUN: What have been some of the obstacles you have encountered, and how you overcame them?

When I began my career in radio broadcasting for CBS in Boston there were not a lot of women.  I was one of only two women on-air at the time. There was a lot of sexism in the ‘80s and ‘90s in broadcasting.   I was a young 23-year-old broadcaster who had a saucy, ‘take no prisoners’ attitude. My Program Director at the time found that refreshing so he gave me a chance to work on-air in Boston, the number five market in the country.  He came into the studio and said to me, ‘you’re # 1 in the ratings with Women 25-54 and you’re not even in the demo! He and I are still great friends today – thirty years later! 

 What advice would you give to a young woman starting out on her career?

Follow your heart.  Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something because they’re probably talking about what they cannot do!  In matters of principle, stand like a rock; don’t be afraid to take risks, carve out a position, and act boldly. The world needs you!  

Frank Prosnitz

Frank Prosnitz brings to WhatsUpNewp several years in journalism, including 10 as editor of the Providence (RI) Business News and 14 years as a reporter and bureau manager at the Providence (RI) Journal....