Ruth Knee was a national leader in the field of social work. Among her innumerable achievements, Ruth played an integral role in organizations such as the National Association of Social Workers and their Social Work Pioneers Program; helped in the drafting of Medicaid and Medicare legislation and the implementation of the Community Mental Health Act; and was appointed to the President's Commission on Mental Health. Ruth also created the first social work program for the United States military at Walter Reed Army Hospital in Washington, D.C.
An alumna of the University of Oklahoma, Ruth accomplished much in her lifetime and hoped to continue her legacy even after her death. Ruth left an endowment to the Anne and Henry Zarrow School of Social Work with the wishes that the gift be utilized in improving the quality of systems and programs that serve communities and families in Oklahoma and elsewhere. (Read full NASW articles about Ruth's legacy here and here)
Building on Ruth's legacy and gift, the Knee Center for Strong Families was founded in 2009. We believe that families are the backbone of strong communities. The family unit, in various forms, has been the foundation for communities throughout history. Legislation, program development, and services should reflect this reality. The Center's mission supports the belief that the strength of families determines the strength of the community.
The Knee Center for Strong Families sponsors academic and community-oriented programs in the fields of social work, public health (including mental health), and fine arts in the following three core areas:
- Visiting lectureships, workshops, seminars, meetings of scholars, conferences, symposia, and forums
- Planning grants or "seed money" to develop programs that might have continuous funding from other sources
- Underwriting research on the planning and development of educational programs to enhance family life in Oklahoma