Ronna Rubin laces her conversation with sly, wise asides. For example, recalling how tiny was her hometown of Wheeling, W.Va., she observed, “The town was so small, we didn’t have a Goodwill.”
But they did have a St. Vincent de Paul store and a soup kitchen, whose presence taught her an important lesson: “The size of the town doesn’t reflect whether poverty exists. From a young age, I was aware that people need help, and if you can help them, do so.”
She took that insight with her on the way to earning her degree in Radio & Television from Ohio University. It stayed with her as she moved to Nashville after Warner Bros. Records appointed her National Director of Press and Artist Development. Today, as founder and owner of Rubin Media, it remains central to her outlook.
Rubin’s first charity involvement in Nashville came through her boss at Warner Bros., then-label President Jim Ed Norman. “Jim Ed was a big fan of the W.O. Smith Music School,” she recalled. “I thought it was the greatest thing ever. I mean, 50-cent music lessons? Now, I can read music and play piano, but I knew I couldn’t teach — nor should I be allowed to. So I started helping them financially when I could.”
Her commitment led in five years to her appointment to the school’s Board of Directors by Ed Hardy, its president at the time. Yet she also found time to devote to another worthy cause. As a Gilda Radner fan, Rubin couldn’t resist volunteering when Gilda’s Club opened an office in Nashville. Here, too, she became a Board member; she remains on the chapter’s advisory board. In recognition of her efforts on its behalf, the organization honored her with their first Nancy Saturn Award of Inspiration.
“When I joined the Board, I said, ‘I want to find that person whose life has not been impacted by cancer,’” she remembered. “Fourteen years ago, you could occasionally find someone. Today, you can’t. Our industry has been horribly hit. Recently, I was at a Hallmark store, and now they have a Hallmark card for people dealing with cancer. That’s your measure.”
That’s not all. You’ll often find Rubin preparing and delivering the main course of meals for the homeless at Congregation Micah. (“I’ve finally found people who will eat my cooking,” she joked.) She and Fred Pierson, a chef by trade, join forces on similar dinners for the Glendale Methodist Church. She also volunteers at Room in the Inn. One could cut this schedule in half and still wonder how she maintains her position as one of the most respected publicists in the business.
“Well, there’s the guilt thing,” she explained, again with a laugh. “You want to say no and then you can’t say no. Of course, I have stuff to complain about, but then here’s this person who doesn’t know where to wash his clothes, if he has clothes. We’re all lucky that there are so many nonprofits in Nashville, you don’t have to look far.”