My journey to this work
From an early age, I spent time in remote indigenous communities in Australia, where I was exposed to the depth and integrity of culture and tradition and the strength of Aboriginal women leaders, as well as stark poverty, injustice, and racism in white Australia. This experience helped spur my subsequent activism - fighting for human rights, women and girls' rights, racial justice, economic justice, and systemic change. It also grounded my interest in ancestral healing practices, that I have since continued to be connected to in Oaxaca, Mexico. My feminist politics is also inspired by my mum, Vivien Johnson, who helped set up the first domestic violence refuge in Sydney and was the drummer in Australia's first all female punk band - Alias.
I grew up in Sydney, Australia, and have lived in different parts of the world over the last decade, from Phnom Penh, Cambodia to Oaxaca, Mexico. I draw energy from being near the ocean and have immense respect for natural beauty. For the last few years, I have been learning to read Tarot, and invest love into my creative writing, with a hope to publish a feminist 'choose your own adventure' novel sometime soon.
My time in Cambodia, working with women's human rights defenders and young women, also led me to Devi Leiper O’Malley, who later became my partner in crime as Co-Executive Director of FRIDA | The Young Feminist Fund - the only global fund dedicated to resourcing young feminist organizing. During 2013-2019 we grew the organization from 1 to 20 staff, budget from 250,000 to 4.5 million USD, and the grantee partner community from 15 - 150 grassroots young feminist led groups in 100+ countries.
My strength is in being the connective tissue between people and ideas. In being bold and creative to reimagine new ways of doing things and to experiment with them fearlessly. I am passionate about collaboration, power building, experimentation, and beautiful documentation of collective knowledge. At the heart is ensuring the people impacted by the work are leading in design and decision making. I take the time to ensure meaningful processes that move us closer to true power-sharing.
In this patriarchal capitalist world, we are often pitted against each other in competition rather than collaboration. My work seeks to challenge this, intentionally working in relationship with other people, centering open communication, accountability, and honesty.
Some of the people I have collaborated with recently include Devi Leiper O’Malley, Swatee Deepak, Rosa Bransky, Boikanyo Modungwa, Angelika Artuyunova, Participatory Grant Makers Collective Katy Love, Rose Longhurst, Diana Samarasan + many more.
I am currently in the process of setting up a new collaboration with a few of my closest friends. Stay tuned!
"Ruby is a joy to work with - smart, creative, collaborative, and with a deep and embodied commitment to social justice. Ruby excels at holding space for collective processes, bringing diverse perspectives together and finding common paths forward. She has a sharp strategic eye and navigates through complexity to bring clarity to any challenge. Ruby enriches complex, sticky projects with her unique blend of humour, humanity and creativity. We have collaborated with Ruby on many projects. From strategy development processes, to facilitation, research and more. And have always wondered 'how would we have done this without her?'. I cannot recommend Ruby enough."