Entrepreneur and corporate director Ruth Markowitz Owades ’66 to give 2013 Scripps College commencement address
Owades is a passionate advocate for liberal arts education, a highly successful entrepreneur, corporate director, and mentor to young business innovators. She founded and built two groundbreaking consumer-product businesses: Gardener’s Eden and Calyx & Corolla. As CEO of Calyx & Corolla, Owades forged a partnership with FedEx to deliver fresh flowers directly from growers, which revolutionized the floral business and changed the way Americans bought flowers.
Harvard Business School has immortalized both of her companies in case studies taught worldwide. She was named a Best Entrepreneur by Business Week magazine and has been recognized as a distinguished alumna by both Scripps College and Harvard Business School, where she received her MBA.
Owades has served as a trustee of Scripps College, on the Board of Dean’s Advisors of the Harvard Business School, and on the Council on Competitiveness. She also chaired the Ellen Browning Scripps Medal Committee, which brought Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor to Scripps in 1998.
Owades attended Scripps on a full scholarship, which at the time was the largest scholastic award ever granted by Scripps. Because this financial assistance changed her life, Owades wanted to make it possible for a young woman with similar need to attend Scripps; she endowed a scholarship, which will be awarded for the first time in 2013-2014.
After graduating from Scripps, Owades was a Fulbright fellow to France in 1967, studying theatre with famed playwright Eugene Ionesco. In 2009, she received the Fulbright Lifetime Achievement Medal for her outstanding accomplishments. She is a director of Newsy and Northern Trust Corp. Western Board and previously served as a director of Armstrong World Industries, Deckers Outdoor Corp., Providian Financial Corp., and J. Jill Group. She is a frequent lecturer and consultant on corporate governance.
Owades is a champion of mentorship, especially for young women. She advises entrepreneurs in the Bay Area, and has spoken at business schools around the world, as well as corporations such as Google and IBM.