House of Ruth

House of Ruth Leader Named 2020 Legacy of a Dream Awardee

House of Ruth Leader Named 2020 Legacy of a Dream Awardee

Re-posted from the November 26, 2019 Georgetown University News. Original link here.

Sandra Jackson, executive director of House of Ruth, will be honored as Georgetown’s 2020 John Thompson Jr. Legacy of a Dream Award recipient Jan. 20 at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

The university presents the award annually to an inspirational emerging local leader at the free Let Freedom Ring! celebration on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Award-winning singer Chaka Khan will be the featured artist this year along with the Let Freedom Ring Choir, which comprises members of the Georgetown and broader Washington, DC communities.

Helping People Every Day 

House of Ruth, created in 1970 with help from a Georgetown professor, provides comprehensive services and housing for women and children.

“I’m thrilled that this award will put the spotlight on the amazing work we do at House of Ruth on behalf of women, children and families,” says Jackson, a native Washingtonian. “I love working at House of Ruth because I do get to help people every day. “Domestic violence crosses all lines, and it is always something that happens to someone else – until it happens to you.”

The awardee says she was inspired by her mother, who raised five children as a single mother in DC.

Rebuilding Lives

Every year House of Ruth helps more than 1,000 women and children learn the skills to live independently, and helps them heal from the trauma and abuse in their lives while eliminating homelessness.

According to the DC Coalition Against Domestic Violence, “there is a direct correlation between housing and domestic violence, in fact, domestic violence is a leading cause of homelessness both locally and nationally and DC has one of the highest homeless rates in the country.”

Solving Key Issues

The award, part of Georgetown’s commitment to helping solve key issues in the city, provides a year of sustained partnership and broader recognition for the organization.

House of Ruth offers services ranging from supportive housing for families and single women in crisis, developmental day care for homeless children, free counseling services to any victim of domestic violence.

There are 14 Houses of Ruth in Washington, DC, seven for women and children and seven for single women, including a mix of transitional, crisis and permanent housing. The organization also has a child care center and a therapy center.

Making a Difference

Under Jackson’s leadership and vision for House of Ruth’s first capital campaign, a new, donor-funded developmental child care center will open on Pennsylvania Avenue in Ward 7 in 2020. As with all House of Ruth programs, Kidspace will serve women, children and families who are survivors of homelessness and domestic violence.

“Through her transformational leadership at House of Ruth, Ms. Jackson has made a difference in the lives of thousands of families impacted by domestic violence in our city, connecting them with the housing, counseling, childcare and support they need to rebuild,” says Georgetown President John J. DeGioia. “We are deeply grateful for the opportunity to recognize her dedicated service and her far-reaching impact with this award.”

Jackson holds a master’s degree in social work from Howard University and has more than two decades of experience in social services management in the DC area, including work with the Child and Family Services Agency and Catholic Charities of Washington, DC.

She became House of Ruth’s executive director in 2016 after beginning her tenure as director of operations in 2013.

‘Safe and Caring Program’

Under her leadership, the organization has increased its service to women and their children by 31%.

She has increased staff training, created additional support groups for women and children and networks of agencies across the city. Jackson also created more services to address employment, health, housing, self-esteem and trauma.

“When I arrived at House of Ruth, on the run from an abusive partner, I was immediately put into a safe and caring program,” says a woman who benefitted from the organization. “While living there, I had cause to reach out directly to Sandra Jackson, the executive director of the organization. I still remember her responsiveness. She helped me through my difficulty, which reduced my anxiety.”

“Now, my children and I are living independently, and I am working full time,” she adds. “I am so grateful for House of Ruth and Ms. Jackson specifically for how compassionately they helped me heal.”

Serving Our Most Vulnerable

Georgetown sociology professor Veronica Maz helped create House of Ruth along with So Others Might Eat and Martha’s Table after visiting skid row in DC to get a firsthand view of homelessness.

When Maz passed away in 2014, The Washington Post said she was “widely regarded as a patron saint of Washington’s hungry, indigent, abused and dispossessed.”

Maz would likely be amazed at how far House of Ruth has come.

“House of Ruth offers critically important support for abused women and their children in the District of Columbia,” says Chris Murphy, who oversees the university’s Office of Community Engagement as vice president for government relations and community engagement. “Under Sandra Jackson’s leadership, the organization has been able to expand its work to help some of our city’s most vulnerable women and children rebuild their lives. I think Dr. King would be proud to see her honored with the Legacy of a Dream Award.”

My Girlfriend’s House Shelter Room Makeover

On October 5th, 13 domestic violence survivors living at House of Ruth’s Families First II program were gifted with newly designed apartments—all inspired by their dream houses—thanks to over 270 volunteers from My Girlfriend’s House.

My Girlfriend’s House is a community of women in the DC area focused on empowering at-risk women with the skills and self-confidence they need to make a better and brighter future for themselves.

The Shelter Room Makeover Party is a twice-a-year outreach effort by My Girlfriend’s House designed to uplift women living in homeless shelters by renovating their rooms into hotel-styled suites. Through student and volunteer efforts, My Girlfriend’s House completely renovated and designed 13, two-bedroom apartments with living rooms, dining rooms, kitchenettes and full bathrooms; a women’s lounge room; and a children’s playroom for House of Ruth over the course of five hours.

On behalf of the women, children and staff at House of Ruth, thank you so much to My Girlfriend’s House and the volunteers who made this special day possible! To see the photos from the incredible makeover, please click here.

Kidspace Groundbreaking with Councilmember Gray

This past June, D.C. Councilmember Vincent Gray of Ward 7 joined House of Ruth’s staff, board of directors and community of supporters to celebrate the groundbreaking of our Kidspace developmental child care center.

House of Ruth’s Board Chair Diane Lewis kicked off the opening remarks and introduced Councilmember Gray, who shared his support for our campaign to build a state of the art child care center—one of our community’s strongest needs—right in D.C.’s Ward 7. Executive Director Sandra L. Jackson wrapped up the closing remarks, proudly speaking about the vital work at Kidspace over the last 20 years, and shared her excitement for the new Kidspace center and its grand opening ceremony next year.

Venable Foundation Grant to House of Ruth

The Venable Foundation Awards $105,000 in Grants to DC-Based Women’s Recovery Organizations

The Foundation gave $35,000 each to three women’s organizations that help survivors of sexual abuse, domestic violence, and human trafficking find pathways to healing.

Washington, DC (November 20, 2018) – The Venable Foundation Inc., the philanthropic arm of the AmLaw 100 law firm Venable LLP, is pleased to announce it awarded $105,000 in grants benefiting three Washington, DC-based women’s organizations that empower and support the healing of women and young girls who are survivors of sexual abuse, domestic violence, and human trafficking. FAIR Girls, House of Ruth, and My Sister’s Place each received a $35,000 grant.

“We are in awe of the vital work of these three organizations. They continuously have uplifted and supported young girls and women in our community by providing recovery resources, a safe place, and a pathway to healing,” said William D. Coston, a Venable partner and Foundation board member. “The grants are a symbol of our support of their missions.”

Venable Foundation President Lindsay B. Meyer said, “The Venable Foundation’s core pillar is to work to promote the health and well-being of the communities where Venable’s clients and attorneys work and live, and these three women’s organizations are doing just that. We are proud to support the important work they do.”

The three organizations plan to use the grant money in the following ways:

“With the generous support of the Venable Foundation, FAIR Girls is able to reduce the barriers faced by young women and girls being trafficked, and assist these individuals referred to us as they safely liberate themselves from human trafficking. Through safe housing, advocacy and policy efforts, individualized client-centered services, and life skills, they need to transition from victim to survivor, in pursuit of our mission to end human trafficking, one life at a time,” said Quincy Inman, development and fundraising manager with FAIR Girls. The organization provides intervention and holistic care to survivors of human trafficking who self-identify as girls or young women. Through prevention education and policy advocacy, FAIR Girls also works to eradicate human trafficking and create brighter outcomes for survivors in the metropolitan Washington, DC area. Venable’s advocacy of FAIR Girls goes back years and has been advocated by top firm leadership, including former Venable Managing Partner and now District of Columbia Attorney General Karl A. Racine.

Sandra Jackson, executive director of House of Ruth, said, “The generous donation from the Venable Foundation will help us fulfill our mission of helping women and children survivors of homelessness and domestic violence. This is an invaluable gift for House of Ruth that we will cherish.” House of Ruth meets the needs of the most vulnerable women and children in Washington, DC through 11 different supportive housing programs, a free outpatient counseling center for survivors of domestic violence, and a nationally accredited therapeutic child development center that helps homeless children overcome developmental delays resulting from trauma exposure. For more than 42 years, House of Ruth has grown in response to the needs of the community and the population we serve, and we have helped bring safety and stability into the lives of more than 11,000 women and children.

Mercedes Lemp, executive director of My Sister’s Place, said, “We are excited to count on the Venable Foundation as a partner in offering survivors of domestic violence a lifeline. The support will help us address a major obstacle facing survivors and their children by allowing us to expand our transitional housing program. The inability to afford housing oftentimes keeps survivors in abusive situations. We are thrilled to be able to help more women and children rebuild their lives with the help of the foundation.” My Sister’s Place offers a full continuum of care, from emergency shelter through transitional-to-permanent housing. Their experienced team of case managers and residential counselors provides clinical counseling, case management, and comprehensive services to empower survivors to recover and thrive.


The Venable Foundation Inc., now in its 35th year, has contributed more than $25 million in the last 10 years to a wide variety of organizations. In 2017, the Foundation awarded one-time impact grants totaling $750,000 to five legal aid organizations in Washington, DC, Baltimore, Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco. Established in 1983, the Foundation supports an expansive range of civic, cultural, and charitable endeavors, as well as public interest law and legal education. These include children’s services and funding for disadvantaged families and individuals; homeless shelters and food programs; community organizations, hospitals, hospices, and local chapters of national health organizations; and educational, artistic, and cultural events and organizations. The Foundation is funded by the partners of Venable LLP. For decades, the Foundation was led by former Venable Chair and former Attorney General of the United States Benjamin R. Civiletti. His leadership and stewardship of the Foundation set the standard for Venable’s long tradition of unparalleled giving.

2017 DC Women’s Needs Assessment Report

In the spring of 2017, the steering committee of the Women’s Task Force of the District of Columbia Interagency Council on Homelessness (ICH) together with The Community Partnership for the Prevention of Homelessness (TCP) conducted an analysis on gender and household type using data from the 2017 PIT Count. This initial examination revealed several distinct differences in experiences and characteristics between unaccompanied women and men. In particular, that unaccompanied women experience mental illness and domestic violence at far greater rates than their male counterparts do. Click here to access a summary of the report.

House of Ruth is proud to have been a part of the 2017 DC Women’s Needs Assessment. To read the full report, click on the pdf below.

Ford’s Theatre Raises Over $96k for House of Ruth

In December 2017, Ford’s Theatre Society raised an astonishing $96,226.93 for House of Ruth during their performances of A Christmas Carol! The cast spoke about House of Ruth and collected donations from November 16 to December 27, 2017. In addition to a collection at each curtain call, patrons were encouraged to make donations through the Ford’s Theatre Box Office, and members of the Christmas Carol company and Ford’s Theatre Society staff contributed to the campaign.

“Each donation given by audiences allows House of Ruth to provide safe spaces and services for women and families who’ve encountered domestic violence. It has been our joy to see the A Christmas Carol message of generosity come to life in this season of reflection and sharing,” said Ford’s Theatre Director Paul R. Tetreault.

“These generous and much-needed gifts will help women and children all winter and on into spring,” said House of Ruth Executive Director Sandra Jackson. “Women and children who have lost their hope and joy will find it again thanks to this kindness. We appreciate Ford’s Theatre, its cast, and its generous audiences for this wonderful donation.”

Click here to read the full press release by Ford’s Theatre.

Board Transitions and Elections

On December 6, 2017, new House of Ruth Board President Diane Lewis (pictured left) ran her first board meeting, and the first order of business was to honor outgoing chair and long-time board member Pamela Pinkett (pictured below). “Serving on a board can be hard work,” Lewis said, “especially when the organization hits a bump in the road, like an executive director search. When that happened at House of Ruth, Pamela was the one who jumped in and got us back where we need to be.” Pinkett was also recognized by Executive Director Sandra Jackson, who said, “As Dr. Martin Luther King said, ‘The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.’ I believe this fits for women, too, and Pamela stood strongly on behalf of House of Ruth these past four years as board president.” After receiving a plaque, flowers and a cake of thank you, Pinkett said, “I’ve taken pleasure in seeing the organization progress.”

Ms. Lewis has been elected to a two-year term, with Anne Zummo Malone serving as Vice Chair and Darryl Christmon as Treasurer. New board members include Monica Brame, Monica Beckham, and Julie Shroyer, each of whom were elected to serve a three-year term.

Ford’s Theatre Picks House of Ruth as 2017 Beneficiary

Since 2009, Ford’s Theatre Society has collected money through their annual production of A Christmas Carol for Washington, DC-area charities. Through their efforts and audiences’ generous support, they have raised more than $625,000 for charities dedicated to ending homelessness, hunger and poverty.

This year, Ford’s Theatre Society announced that the cast of the 2017 production of A Christmas Carol selected House of Ruth as recipient of this year’s donation drive inspired by the themes of charity in Dickens’ holiday classic.

“The holiday season is a time of great celebration and enormous need. The women and children survivors of homelessness and domestic violence at House of Ruth are deeply grateful for the generosity of the cast, crew and audiences of Ford’s Theatre. You are changing hundreds of lives and bringing A Christmas Carol to life,” said Sandra Jackson, Executive Director at House of Ruth.

During the curtain calls for performances of A Christmas Carol, the company will collect monetary donations on behalf of House of Ruth. Patrons can also make donations through the Ford’s Theatre Box Office. All donation checks should be made payable to “House of Ruth.”

A Christmas Carol plays at Ford’s Theatre from November 16 through December 31, 2017. Tickets are available for sale at

House of Ruth Appoints New Executive Director

Washington, DC – Sandra Jackson, M.S.W, LICSW, LCSW-C, has been named Executive Director of House of Ruth, the city’s largest provider of housing and services for abused women, children, and families.  Jackson, who served as the Interim Executive Director since January 2016, moves into the role effective November 14, 2016.

In her new, permanent role, Jackson will provide management leadership in the areas of administration, programming, and strategic planning to support the agency’s mission and initiatives and to oversee its eight million-dollar budget.  As the primary spokesperson for House of Ruth, she will have a visible presence in the community and will work closely with public and private partners.

“Sandra Jackson is capable, hard-working and ready to propel House of Ruth forward,” says Pamela Pinkett, Chair of House of Ruth’s Board of Directors. “She is a strong, yet compassionate leader whose proven accomplishments will enhance our ability to provide essential services to those in need.”

An executive with more than two decades of experience in social services management in the DC area, Jackson’s tenure at House of Ruth began in 2013 as House of Ruth’s Director of Operations.  Prior employers include the Child and Family Services Agency and Catholic Charities of Washington, DC.

“The core of House of Ruth’s mission embodies service to others.  I am thankful for the opportunity to serve as the leader with such committed board members, staff, donors and community partners to continue the 40-year tradition of serving and enriching the lives of women, children and families in greatest need build safe, stable lives and achieve their highest potential,” says Jackson.

Stay in Touch With House of Ruth

Your support helps women and children build strong, stable lives.

Newsletter Sign-Up