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About Ruth Haag

Ruth Haag has spent 24 of the past 30 years in professional practice, with a 12-year hiatus in the middle during which she focused upon raising daughters to become healthy, viable adults (A life pattern similar to that of former Secretary of State Madeline Albright and current Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi). Ruth has obtained long and deep experience in management, with her most recent years of experience being in the domains of government and non-profit organizations. The story of Ruth's professional carreer path follows.

University Training for Resource Management - As a student at the University of Michigan's School of Natural Resources, Ruth concentrated upon studies that would allow her to participate in planning and management of urban areas in harmony with Nature. Her urban managment courses included Urban Planning, Urban Trees, Urban Field Studies, Mass Media, Macroeconomics and Forest Management. These studies introduced her, early in her career, to operating practices and policies related to water pollution treament, sewerage, parks/recreation, facility siting, land reclamation, and communication with the public.

University Training for Technical Decisions - Ruth also pursued university science courses that provided her with the technical basis to make judgements regarding scientific and engineering proposals by others. Some of the courses in that vein included Biophysical Ecology, Forest Hydrology, Soils, Animal/Human Physiology, Field Botany, Woody Plants, Biochemistry, and Calculus. Anxious to move on in life, Ruth completed her Bachelor of Science degree at the University of Michigan in only 3 and a half years.

Ruth's Professional Beginnings - For most of her university student years, Ruth worked as a Guide at the University of Michigan's Exhibit Museum of Natural History. Upon graduation, she accepted a job at the University's museum, eventually rising to head its Educational Services program. Ruth worked at the University's museum while her husband, Bob, completed his Masters degree in Engineering Geology at the same institution.

Family Years; Family Business - Upon completion of Bob's degree, the young couple moved to New York City, where Bob was employed as an engineer at American Electric Power (AEP) headquarters, and Ruth began her daughter-rearing interval with the arrival of their first child, Valerie. This New York stint provided Ruth with extreme first-hand examples of mass transit, trash handling, and urban neighborhoods. AEP soon moved its headquarters and the Haag family to Columbus, Ohio. There, the family's second daughter, Rachel, arrived. In Columbus, Ruth observed many important facets of midwestern City growth, planning and development. She saw the importance of recreational and green spaces near to urban living spaces. She saw the benefit of encouraging mixed incomes in housing developments. When Bob moved to a major hazwaste cleanup firm in Findlay, Ohio, the family followed. Five years later, Ruth and Bob used their combined experience to launch Haag Environmental Company (HaagEnviro). Ruth's initial role in this family business was to handle its accounting, so she took post-graduate courses in accounting and taxation from the nearby main campus of Bowling Green State University (BGSU).

Law School - Ruth wondered whether her calling might be in environmental law, and was awarded a full-ride scholarship to Ohio Northern University's school of law. Although one of her law professors told her and Bob that she had a "great legal mind", she ultimately decided that the personal compromises needed in order to practice law were not for her, and she withdrew from the program. However, the training that she received allowed her to perform and critique legal research over the ensuing years.

Corporate Takeover - By the time that Ruth decided not to further pursue law school, the family business had grown so that it was conducting approximately $2.5 million per year in remedial assessment and construction services. While Bob's technical expertise remained unquestioned, he was struggling with people-management, and the company's fortunes were declining. After a brief battle of wills, Ruth emerged as CEO, the company's ship was righted, and both technical and management aspects continued a healthy climb.

Diversification due to Economic Decline - However, the environmental cleanup industry began a nosedive before the rest of the economy tanked. Ruth's company was buying competitor's equipment at close-out auctions. With a goal of diversification, Ruth and Bob acquired a farm, and launched a publishing arm called Haag Press. Ruth also provided management training seminars on behalf of four local colleges. As environmental jobs became scarce, Ruth instituted a program of planned attrition for HaagEnviro. After 5 years, the new farm and associated retail store were beginning to achieve their potential, but Ruth and Bob were looking for a change. With daughters safely in college, they searched the Lake Erie shore from Toledo eastward, in search of a new home in an historic building on the lake. They settled in both Lakeside and Sandusky for four years, and eventually decided to concentrate their efforts in Sanddusky. HaagEnviro, Haag Press, and the non-profit HaagInsight, all came to call Sandusky home. Ruth also started a new publication under Haag Press, which was a monthly newspaper called A Sandusky Bay Journal.

Sandusky Main Streets - To promote their businesses, Ruth and Bob joined the Erie County Chamber of Commerece and the Sandusky Main Streets Association (SMSA). Ruth became the President of SMSA, and Bob was the Design Chair. Working with the Sandusky City Manager, Ruth negotiated the assignment of 80% the SMSA Executive Director's time to support City development projects. At that time, Sandusky's Paper District project was foundering over issues with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permit for the Chesapeake Walkway and Marina. To get the project going again, Ruth and Bob were intimately involved in negotiating a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between the City, the Army Corps, the Old House Guild and the Ohio Historic Preservation Office (OHPO). As a service of SMSA, Ruth offered her Haag Press management training to downtown merchants without charge. In a related vein, Ruth and Bob assisted Sandusky businesses in preparation of business plans, as a free service of HaagInsight. Haag Insight also began to hold citizen training sessions to review Sandusky City Commission meeting Agendas, considering how the City Charter was implemented in those meetings.

Ruth Trains City Staff - Ruth had provided her management training courses through BGSU Firelands, and a special session was held for Sandusky City employees. Learning of Ruth's management training expertise, the Assistant City Manager then hired Ruth to train members of the Sandusky City staff in strategies to get more work done with fewer staff members. This was a direct response to the observation that City revenues were declining, and budget cuts were unavoidable. Ruth introduced the City Staff to her innovative concepts of flexible scheduling and employee empowerment.

NASA Plum Brook - Based on environmental expertise, HaagEnviro landed a subcontract with NASA Plum Brook Station, south of Sandusky. HaagEnviro obtained samples of Plum Brook sediment, from NASA to East Sandusky Bay. The Haags made numerous public presentations for NASA. One NASA session was attended by a City Commissioner, who invited the Haags to make their presentation to the Sandusky City Commission.

A Small City Contract - To obtain the Haag's expertise for the benefit of the City, that Commissioner sought a small contract between HaagEnviro and Sandusky. Under this contract, Ruth thoroughly studied the City's complete annual budget of $61 million, and then evaluated sustainability issues. One of Ruth's key observation from those studies was that Sandusky spent more than half of its annual outlays outside of the City and Erie County. Ruth advised that, if the City could divert $20 million more to in-City vendors, the benefit would be similar to the landing of a new factory.

Day-to-Day City Work - Troubled by the City's lack of progress in Brownfields redevelopment, Ruth and Bob approached the City Commission with a new idea: a Brownfields Local Redevelopment Authority (BLRA) reporting directly to the Commission. The BLRA operated for slighty over a year, before the experiment was ended. The process provided Ruth with insight into the City's day-to-day operations. She drafted routine City legislation and a new wind turbine ordinance, she analyzed City spending, she drafted communications from the City to state and federal authorities, and she convened citizen groups to provide input to key City decisions.

Ruth Haag Has Experience - A 30-year career path has taken Ruth from the University of Michigan, to New York City, through urban and rural Ohio communities, and finally to Sandusky, Ohio. During this time she has developed into a corporate and community leader who shares her learning and guidance by means of speaking, publishing, management training and direct management of people and resources.


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A Sandusky Bay Journal " Haag Environmental Company
2007 Haag Press