Ann Devroy often served as a mentor to other journalists, so in 1998 those who knew her best decided the best way to honor her memory was to give young journalists a chance to follow in her footsteps. Since she got her start at UW-Eau Claire, it was here her family and friends decided they could be of most help.
"Ann came out of nowhere and became the best in the business," said Milton Coleman, deputy managing editor of The Washington Post. "She worked her way through school and attended a public university in the Midwest. Yet with her determination, her sense of journalism and ethics, and her smarts, she proved that the best come in all colors, sizes, genders and from all places.
"We wanted to do something education related and decided that the best way to ensure the 'Ann-ness'; of it was to house it at UW-Eau Claire."
Shortly after Devroy''s death, Doug Kaiser, a 1968 UW-Eau Claire alumnus and friend of Devroy, contacted UW-Eau Claire with a suggestion of establishing an internship program with The Washington Post in Devroy's name. Coleman, a Wisconsin native and a graduate of the UW-Milwaukee himself, helped UW-Eau Claire design the fellowship, won a commitment from The Washington Post for an annual winter fellowship in the newsroom and raised tens of thousands of dollars. He recruited prominent Post journalists to speak at the Devroy Forum.
When the fund was established, Mark Matthews, Devroy's husband, said it was important to him that those benefiting from the dollars have an interest in journalism — the career that meant so much to Devroy. But, he said, recipients should also have the same spirit and love of life that Devroy possessed.
While still an undergraduate student, Devroy worked full time at the Eau Claire Leader-Telegram. She was eager to start her career but also needed the money for school, Matthews said, adding that he hopes the fund will ease the financial burden on others with similar backgrounds.
The monies are used to support the Ann Devroy Fellowship, awarded to an outstanding UW-Eau Claire journalism student. The fellowship includes a three-week unpaid internship at The Washington Post and a paid summer internship at a Wisconsin daily newspaper. It also covers expenses for the Devroy Forum, which brings to UW-Eau Claire journalists of national prominence who spend time in university classrooms and give an address that is free and open to the public. Additionally, it provides education opportunities for other journalism majors at UW-Eau Claire. For example, the Devroy Fund has helped staff members of The Spectator attend national student media conferences.
In 2003, the UW-Eau Claire Foundation received a challenge grant of $20,000 from the Philip Graham Fund to encourage additional giving to the Ann Devroy Memorial Fund.
The challenge grant resulted in several gifts, the largest of which was a $25,000 gift from George Stephanopoulos, who was senior adviser to President Clinton when Ann Devroy was The Washington Post's top White House correspondent. The gift was Stephanopoulos’ second contribution to the Devroy Fund. He also was among the initial contributors when the fund was created and praised Devroy’s contributions to journalism.
In testament to Devroy’s impact on journalism and outstanding life, her friends and colleagues continue to honor her memory through contributions to this fund 10 years after her death. The fund has a current balance of more than $127,000 and benefits from consistent and generous support. The goal is to increase the endowment to $250,000.