Dr. Ruth Lofgren is a scientific and environmental pioneer, a philanthropist dedicated to a multitude of causes, and a long-time AFSC supporter who says that the organization's work for peace with justice speaks to her own core beliefs.
"The worth of every person and the power of love to overcome injustice-this is the essence of what I believe," Dr. Lofgren says, echoing the underlying tenets of AFSC's work as she explains why she has been such a steadfast supporter.
Dr. Lofgren was born into a devout Mormon family in Utah. The 97-year-old scientist helped pioneer electron microscopy and, in the 1960s, was one of the first practitioners of what was then a relatively new field called ecology. She began attending Quaker meeting during her years as a graduate student at the University of Michigan and was deeply moved by what she saw. "I watched people in Quaker meeting being so simple and quiet and unassuming about their good works," she recalls.
After joining the faculty at the City University of New York (CUNY), Dr. Lofgren continued attending Quaker meeting and became a Quaker in the late '60s. When she retired from CUNY, Dr. Lofgren moved to San Antonio, Texas, where she has long been active in science, justice, and environmental education.
It was through her Quaker connections that Dr. Lofgren first learned about AFSC's work during both world wars. In recent years she has been particularly impressed with AFSC's Eyes Wide Open exhibit, which has been in San Antonio twice.
"San Antonio is ‘Military Town, USA,' and there's been strong opposition to the exhibit," she says. "It's a realistic statement of how destructive war is, but here it's seen as a pacifist statement. When people see the lines and lines of boots, it's a shock."
Science and the natural world have always fascinated Dr. Lofgren, who has lately focused on issues of consciousness and the spirit. "We are all incarnate spirits, with body, mind, and spirit. I have a deep conviction that the spirit goes on indefinitely, and I'd like to see us develop a conceptual framework that includes the spiritual component along with the physical and mental," she says.
Dr. Lofgren has included AFSC in her will and has established gift annuities as well as a charitable remainder trust with the organization, which benefits AFSC while providing her with a steady income.
"I want to have the good work that AFSC and others do continue, especially for those who can't help themselves," Dr. Lofgren explains. "I'm trying to do my share for future generations."