DEBBIE FERRUZZI Chief Executive Officer

Social Visionary

Debbie started Humanity Rising with the purpose of building the next generation of leaders and social innovators. She has led Humanity Rising through a pilot program at George Westinghouse College Prep in East Garfield Park. The program resulted in a highly successful “Culture of Kindness” Club that held post-it note campaigns encouraging students to write something nice on their peers’ lockers. A blanket drive for a local homeless shelter was also carried out, and scholarships were awarded to 10 students.

Prior to starting Humanity Rising, Debbie served as the executive director of the Chicago-based BeCause Foundation. Believing that “one story can change the world,” the BeCause Foundation produced independent documentary films and created strategic impact campaigns. Its film, “Bully,” was picked up by The Weinstein Company, and its release brought worldwide attention to the gravity of this issue. In her role at BeCause, Debbie was also the visionary for, a more efficient solution for children in crisis. brought together the top eight child helplines in North America, creating a portal that makes it easier for children in crisis to get the 24/7 confidential help that they need.

Corporate Veteran

Before joining the BeCause Foundation, Debbie had a 25-year career in real estate working with legendary entrepreneur Sam Zell. She served as executive vice president of corporate strategy at Equity Office Properties, the nation’s largest real estate company at the time. In this role she led the company’s strategic planning and oversaw the company’s human resources and communications functions. She developed and led successful CSR and employee engagement programs and was responsible for aligning human capital programs with business goals.

While at Equity Office Property, Debbie’s personal passion of philanthropy led her to found the company’s national philanthropic committee, which focused on children’s health, education, and welfare. By leveraging Equity Office Property’s national presence, Debbie drove awareness of nonprofits in these areas and helped them secure corporate funding. She created an employee giving program that included volunteer involvement and/or financial donations. A Chicago native, Debbie obtained an MBA with a concentration in finance from the University of Chicago and a BS in business from Eastern Illinois University.

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