Donors Make a Difference: Ruth Meixner-Bird


Photo­graphy by
Jeff Watts

Ruth Meixner-Bird in an arts studio

Like many young people before her and scores after, Ruth Meixner-Bird, CAS/MA '62, moved to Washington, DC, in the 1950s with sights set on a career in the federal government. Armed with a master's in political science from the University of Wisconsin, she landed a position at the Central Intelligence Agency. Soon after her arrival in DC, however, Meixner-Bird began taking graduate classes in painting and art criticism at American University—a move that would spark a colorful career change.

"The study of art can open up new attitudes," says Meixner-Bird, pictured in an MFA studio in the Katzen Arts Center. "I felt enriched by my experience at AU and was inspired to go into teaching." Her newfound profession as an arts educator included positions at AU, the Corcoran School of Design, and Montgomery College, where she taught painting for nearly three decades.  

A dedicated supporter of AU, Meixner-Bird included the university in her charitable estate plans as a way to nurture generations of students to come. Her future gift will create an endowed, fully-funded scholarship for students pursuing a master's in fine arts at AU's College of Arts and Sciences. "Investing in people and education is my legacy," she says.

Now an award-winning abstract painter, Meixner-Bird exhibits her work in galleries across the DC area, including a recent show at the Arts Club of Washington. She hopes her investment in AU students will inspire them to follow their creative passions, both as artists and teachers.

For information on how your vision and charitable estate planning can create a legacy at American University, contact Kara Barnes, director of planned giving, at 202-885-5914 or, or visit