Meet the next in our series, Ruth Cullen, Director of Advancement and Communications at The Connecticut Forum.
RUTH CULLEN: When Doris and Richard Sugarman founded The Connecticut Forum in 1992, they were Hartford-based. They always had a big vision for the impact of the organization in connecting people and ideas and building community. Because Connecticut is such a small state, I think they wanted The Forum to find its heart right here in Hartford.
The goal was to create a place for exciting conversations among prominent thought leaders, experts, and celebrities that was open to everyone—not just those in the Greater Hartford area, although that’s geographically where the bulk of our audience and those involved with us come from. People from throughout the state do come to Hartford just for our events. That’s the whole essence of The Forum being totally inclusive and wanting to embrace all of Connecticut.
HOW DID YOU BECOME PART OF HARTFORD AND HOW HAS HARTFORD BECOME A PART OF YOU?
RUTH CULLEN: I was relatively new to Connecticut and I wanted to be close to a small, accessible city. I was seeking diverse people, experiences, places, and voices. I hit the jackpot when the first place I explored was The Connecticut Forum. Now, 12 years later, I feel the same way. I’m proud to be part of an organization that has created deep roots in this community that touch many lives.
Being in Hartford in this line of work, means I’m continually connected to people from all walks of life in all business sectors, the nonprofit world, arts and culture, and schools. I can’t walk down the street without bumping into someone who hasn’t been affected by the work of The Forum in some way. As a creative person, I can’t think of anything more exciting than to constantly be exposed to people with interesting stories and backgrounds and to benefit from that diversity in every way.
WHERE DO YOU SEE THE FUTURE OF HARTFORD?
RUTH: To me, Hartford is this exciting, diverse, interesting, growing city that I wish more people would discover, because there’s so much more here than meets the eye. There’s been a noticeable shift in energy and activity, with new housing and new innovation hubs and things like MakerspaceCT and Upward Hartford, the new downtown corner market that’s being built, the University of Connecticut downtown campus, and new things to check out on Front Street. It feels like this is just the beginning of more great things to come.
Young people are moving downtown, too, which is changing the dynamic and the culture. Bold, new, creative people are putting a stake in the ground and trying new things that make the city a stimulating cultural environment. The city is becoming a cultural center, a business center, and a thriving destination for people from all over the place. I hope this is just the beginning of Hartford’s renaissance.