11 Questions: J. Ruth Littlejohn

Ruth Littlejohn

What was your first job?

While in college during summer break, I worked as a liaison with a funded agency, working with low-income children and their families (similar to Head Start).

What are some of the skills you developed early on that you’ve found to be beneficial or essential to your practices now?

I’ve been fortunate as a military spouse to live in many different communities, to meet people of different cultures and backgrounds, and to hone my communication skills. I enjoy speaking with, listening to, and learning from all of the people I meet and have met. I also have a strong work ethic, a “can-do” attitude, patience and perseverance.

What are some strategies you use to keep yourself in check?

I have established a specific routine, I’m very disciplined when it comes to maintaining a regular exercise program and studying the Bible.

What vision do you promote for your community, and how do you get others to buy into or tap into that vision?

My vision for my community is one of continued improvement—a community that fosters a safe environment by improving and preserving the quality of life in the neighborhood. I get others to tap into that vision by sharing at monthly neighborhood meetings. Also, as editor of our community newsletter, I encourage others to share in this vision. I also lead by example by participating in community cleanups.

What’s your most difficult responsibility, and how do you deal with it?

As a community activist, I am primarily concerned about maintaining my drive and abilities to keep community residents motivated and focused on pursuing excellence in our community. I deal with this by building relationships, sharing information, and partnering with City officials and community stakeholders.

What do you struggle with?

Often people will tell me what a wonderful job I am doing or how smart I am and give me a lot of credit for the work I have done, but this praise sometimes bothers me. I find it difficult to accept accolades because I view myself as a very humble and giving person.

What was your biggest failure as a professional and how did you recover?

I do not recall any significant failures; however, one of my biggest challenges was learning new technologies. For instance, when my real estate broker established a paperless office, I had to learn how to use a computer. This was very difficult for me, but I applied myself and overcame the challenge by taking computer classes, and I continue to work on improving my computer skills.

What is one of your favorite hobbies, and what is it that you find most fulfilling in it?

One of my favorite hobbies is cooking; it is a rewarding and fulfilling hobby, especially when I entertain friends and family. Their expressions of enjoyment from my cooking give me great satisfaction.

What do you see as your biggest success so far? (in life? In career? In community?)

My biggest success so far in life is celebrating 40 years of marriage to my husband and witnessing the successes of my family. In my career, I was a very successful realtor for more than twenty years, and after retirement I was able to turn my energies toward volunteering in my community and serving others. As for my community, the biggest success in my community was and is being able to rally residents in the community and establishing partnerships with the City of Spartanburg, which resulted in the community receiving more than $12,000 in grant funds to bring about beautification projects to the community. During my five-year tenure as president of the South Converse Neighborhood Association, the neighborhood earned Neighborhood of the Year, received a 501(c)3 status, received $122,000 grant from the Mary Black Foundation, $50,000 grant from South Carolina Parks and Recreation to successfully renovate the South Converse Street Park. The association formed a logo, established a bi-monthly community newsletter, partnered with the local churches, formed bi-monthly clean-ups for the community, installed speed humps, and erected community signs. These are just a few of the many improvements that have taken place in our community.

You were elected by Nikki Haley to serve on the Voter Registration and Election Commission board in Spartanburg. What are your challenges or opportunities when it comes to this position?

My challenge is to get a greater number of people out to vote, and I have the opportunity to do all I can do to make sure people get out to vote. The Board of Voter Registration and Election is there to ensure that the voting and election process is conducted properly. Being on the board also allows me to work with other board members to uphold the integrity of the voting process.

You were honored as “Mentor of the Year” for Spartanburg District 7. Tell us more about your work as a mentor.

I was awarded Mentor of the Year for Spartanburg 7 in 2010. I work with children as a mentor to motivate them and to help them overcome some of the challenges they may be facing. Although many of the youth have family support, they often need an outside objective point of view to their issues or concerns.


This content was published by Business Black Box, the Upstate’s business magazine, based in Greenville, SC. Any replications or use of this content must be attributed to Black Box or Showcase Publishing.