Ruth Ann Gaines was born in Des Moines, Iowa in 1947. She was educated in the parochial school system. She received a BA degree in Drama/Speech in 1969 from Clarke College in Dubuque, Iowa and a M.A. in Dramatic Art from the University of California in Santa Barbara in 1970. She has been teaching drama at East High School and Speech and Drama at Des Moines Area Community College since 1971.
Ruth Ann has served on numerous boards and commissions throughout the years. She was appointed to the State Foster Care Review Board by Governor Tom Vilsack in 2000 and is currently serving on the Iowa Arts Council where she was appointed by Governor Chet Culver in 2008. She is also currently a Des Moines Human Rights Commissioner. She has been a Commissioner since 2004.
She is also well known throughout the state for her acting and directing endeavors. Ruth Ann was a 1987 YWCA Woman of Achievement and the 1993 Rotary High School Teacher of the Year. She was the 1998 Iowa Teacher of the Year and one of four finalists for National Teacher of the Year. During the last few years, she has also been inducted into the National Teachers Hall of Fame, the Iowa African American Hall of Fame and the Iowa Women’s Hall of Fame. In 2002 she was selected as a Central Iowa Woman of Influence.
Ruth Ann’s most recent big accomplishment was being selected as a recipient of the National Broadway Teacher of the Year Award in 2010.
Ruth Ann is a single adoptive parent of a child with multiple disabilities. In 1984, she was one of 15 single persons to adopt in Iowa. She has worked for and served on numerous committees and boards to help the disabled. She served on Very Special Arts Iowa Board and has sponsored many special needs artists in the Des Moines community.