The John Ruggie Legacy Fund

Shift is extremely grateful for the many contributions to the John Ruggie Legacy Fund that we received since John passed away in September 2021. Following discussions with John’s wife, Mary, and Shift’s Board, we agreed that the best way for these resources to advance John’s legacy would be to take forward his commitment to championing young practitioners from all backgrounds interested in advancing implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

As messages of condolence and recognition poured in following John’s death, one of the themes that stood out to us was the sheer quantity and range of people who said they would never forget how John listened to their questions and concerns, shared his insights, and supported them in their own efforts to advance business respect for human rights. Many of these were individuals – students and professionals – who reached out to John in hopes of some brief response, only to find him offering them time, advice, access and connections far beyond their expectations.

It is this spirit of John that we want to represent through the Legacy Fund. We have therefore decided that it should be a means to enable talented students of business and human rights to gain practical experience, and to access ideas and networks that can advance their own careers and contribution to the field. The Fund will support a series of opportunities through the “John Ruggie Fellowship Program”, which will particularly seek to support students who may otherwise lack access to such opportunities.  

We will strive to support at least two placements each year, for 3 or more months each, at organizations that are advancing leading practice in the field of business and human rights, and which can offer a high-value immersive experience. We are delighted to be working with three host organizations for the inaugural year of the John Ruggie Fellowship Program: Accountability Counsel, PepsiCo and Verité. Shift will provide administrative support for the Fellowship Program as well as managing the Fund. 

The John Ruggie Legacy Fund is not just a one-year initiative. We envision it continuing into the future at a sufficient financial level to enable at least two fellowships per year. We warmly welcome additional contributions from interested individuals and organizations to help us make this a true Legacy Fund for John and all that he stood for. For those interested in contributing to the Fund and its future Fellows, please use the link below or contact us at info [at] shiftproject [dot] org.

We are pleased to announce that Shift is also compiling an online library of John’s key articles, speeches and other outputs relevant to business and human rights. We plan to launch this in 2023 on Shift’s website and to continue building it out further over the following months.

We are currently accepting donations via PayPal. Please use the button below:

You may also send your donation to the following address:

Shift Project, Ltd. 
Attention: John Ruggie Legacy Fund 
462 Seventh Avenue, Floor 6
New York, NY  10018   USA 

Please make all checks payable to Shift Project, Ltd.

All donations will receive due acknowledgement.

Further information about the John Ruggie Legacy Fund will be available on Shift’s website in due course. In case of questions, please contact ruggielegacyfund [at] shiftproject [dot] org

Shift Project, Ltd is a nonprofit, charitable organization under Section 501(c)(3) of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code. A copy of our most recently filed financial report is available from the Charities Registry on the New York State Attorney General’s website at  or, upon request, by contacting the New York State Attorney General’s Charities Bureau, Attn: FOIL Officer, 120 Broadway, New York, NY 10271, or by contacting Shift at 462 Seventh Avenue, Floor 6, New York, NY  10018. You may obtain information on charitable organizations from the New York State Office of the Attorney General at or (212) 416-8401.


A Statement by the Co-founders of Shift

New York, NY

JOHN RUGGIE PASSED away on 16 September with his beloved wife and son at his side. A light has gone out in the world. More than a light. John was a beaming beacon for so many of us who had the privilege to know him, to work with him, to learn from him, to laugh with him, to love him. He achieved academic heights that his colleagues at Harvard and around the world will attest to in the days and weeks to come. Yet his ideas and insights never rested on paper, for his gift was to turn them into the tools of tangible change and his passion was to make the world a more equal and just place. He did both.

Nowhere is John’s gift for crafting words that create change more evident than in the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, which he authored in his six years as the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative. We had the good luck and constant delight of working with John through that time as part of a wider team which he fondly dubbed ‘Team Ruggie’ and which became an enduring extended family. As we then set up Shift to be part of the movement needed to translate the Guiding Principles into practice, John was at our side – not just formally as our Chair, but as our champion, support and guide, and above all as our friend. 

John’s legacy cannot be captured in a few words. He leaves behind not just the seeds of the change he wanted to see in the business world, but the blossoming on all continents of new policies and practices, laws and regulations, fans and followers. John’s spirit will live on in all we do at Shift, alongside so many others in the business and human rights movement, to further nurture and fuel the change he set in train. Indeed, our name comes from a phrase John would gleefully pronounce, a sparkle in his eye, whenever he saw a new sign of the impact of the Guiding Principles  – ’Shift happens!’  So it does – when grounded not just in the intellectual depth and drive but in the humanity, humility, integrity and compassion that were so central to how John moved through the world.  We miss him deeply.

Our thoughts are with Mary and Andreas Ruggie and their wider family at this time. A memorial service will be held in Cambridge, Massachusetts with details to be announced in the coming days.  

Caroline and Rachel

And the Shift Team