President’s Circle Member Profile: JoAnn Sivley Ruppert

Written by By Shauna Scherer, Vice President for Marketing and Development, and Lee Polansky, Senior Director of Executive Initiatives and Special Projects | Published: March 15, 2021

candid shot of JoAnn Sivley Ruppert, her partner and two labs outside on a porch.Ever the thoughtful individual, JoAnn Sivley Ruppert thought long and hard (for several decades!) before she took the leap and became a member of Population Connection. Not only that, she joined the President’s Circle of particularly generous donors.

We asked JoAnn, “After all those years of following the organization, why did you ultimately join us?” She said that she had long been aware of the problems arising from rapid population growth. For many years, while she lived in Virginia and California, she worked with children in foster care and assisted with adoptions. She’d “seen children who weren’t wanted, who were abused, neglected, or just abandoned emotionally. Having kids is the hardest job anybody ever has, if they do it right.” And, she added, “It’s been part of my thinking for 40 to 50 years” that people are obligated to help others make the right choices for themselves and their families.

JoAnn began to read more about climate change and started “to get truly serious about that.” She said “it was one more thing that was important to me about population growth.” She read many books on the topic, but Elizabeth Kolbert’s The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History made the biggest impression. “Even though I don’t have kids, I love this planet, and I want it to continue to be the beautiful place that we’re experiencing in our lives.”

JoAnn, who has a psychology background, and her husband, Steve, a geologist, live in New Mexico. They enjoy traveling abroad and especially appreciate putting JoAnn’s French to work in France. She’s been lucky to join Steve on his geological research cruises to China and Peru with the University of Hawaii’s Institute of Geophysics. They have also enjoyed visiting the Galapagos Islands, Mexico, Canada, and many parts of Europe.

JoAnn and Steve enjoy the unusual hobby of mushroom hunting—so much so, that they named one of their three dogs Chanterelle, which is a delicious wild mushroom that’s often yellow or golden colored. Halle and Remy complete their Labrador Retriever family. One of JoAnn’s Labs was expecting a litter of puppies when we spoke—JoAnn planned to donate one pup to Freedom Service Dogs of Denver, Colorado, an organization that provides dogs to children and adults with autism, traumatic brain injury, cerebral palsy, spinal cord injuries, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, and post-traumatic stress.

These days, JoAnn’s philanthropy focuses on Population Connection, as well as Planned Parenthood and Rocky Mountain Conservancy. She’s also working closely with Compassion & Choices in New Mexico to help pass the state’s Death with Dignity Act. JoAnn is all about personal choices, saying that “death with dignity” is yet “another issue where choice should be available to people.” And, she added, “At this point in my life, being able to contribute to the causes that I feel so strongly about is such a gift.”

We’d like to extend our thanks to JoAnn for her generosity and dedication to our mission, as both a member of our President’s Circle and our ZPG Society—a legacy society honoring the commitment of those who include Population Connection in their will or trust. We’re truly fortunate that JoAnn jumped on board with us last year, and we deeply appreciate her dedication to achieving our mission.

If you’d like to learn more about making an investment in Population Connection’s programs, please contact us at

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