Fan GoH - Lisa Garrison-Ragsdale

It's hard for me to realize that Lisa Garrison Ragsdale has been active in fandom for more than a decade. Although she has a long list of accomplishments, she approaches life with a delight in discovery that gives her the aura of someone who is new to everything she comes to. I slightly remember meeting Lisa at a bid party at Marcon in 1999. Others at this party included long-time fans who were surprised to see a bid party at Marcon, and some locals who had little awareness of and less interest in fandom outside central Ohio, but Lisa was one of the few locals who wanted to know more about the fannish world at large. That Marcon was Lisa's first convention.

Lisa's combination of people skills and willingness to help had her working as a guest liaison the next year, and helping to evangelize the message of fandom for Marcon's publicity the year after that. By 2003 she was chair of Marcon, and she's been a regular at many other conventions.

I got to know Lisa better when she ran children's programming at Torcon, which she did with her usual enthusiasm and aplomb. I recall one time she used the “mom voice” on her then eight-year-old son who was doing something he shouldn't: “Alex, stop that!” stopped me in my tracks, which amused those who saw this. Her commitment to fandom was demonstrated when she chaired Midwest Construction in 2004 nine days after the difficult and premature birth of her son Seamus. The convention was a great success, and did much to raise the profile and reputation of Ohio conrunning in the wider fan community.

Lisa is best known to Detroit fandom for running KidFusion, the children’s program suite at ConFusion, for the past eight years. KidFusion has been an oasis of safety and fun, helping to acculturate the next generation of fandom, and providing an outlet for filkers, scientists, authors, and artists to share their avocations with a fresh new audience. In addition to helping the kids have fun, Lisa's kids’ room has also made it possible for parents to attend other program items during the convention.

Lisa has been active in fandom across the Midwest; she is a regular at conventions in Chicago, and has been the program director for Millenicon since she moved from Ohio to Kentucky in 2008. Lisa has also helped run several Worldcons; she was one of the best partners one could wish for when we ran Kaffeeklatsches at LACon IV in 2006, and she has contributed her expertise running children's services at Denvention 3 and working with youth programming at Anticipation. It seems likely that she will be asked to do something for the next Worldcon in Chicago in 2012, either in some area she's worked in before, or learning something completely new.

For some people, this level of fannish activity would take up all of their available time, but she is at least as active with her non-fannish volunteering. At her community church she teaches Sunday school, is a children's program leader, and organizes many events. On top of this, she is a board member of her county 4-H club, and is also active in the local TOPS organization.

She often expresses Christian values both online and in person, though not in an exclusive or negative way. Her faith is much more influenced by the actual words of Jesus from the Gospels than by obscure passages from Leviticus, and she welcomes and stands up for fans and others of all faiths, lifestyles, and politics in every activity she's involved in.

Lisa also knows how to have fun. She participates in events organized by Barfleet, a fannish group devoted mainly to drinking and partying at conventions; the outfit she wore to a Barfleet party at Capricon a couple years back turned heads and stirred gossip among those who only knew her Midwest den-mother side. Her hobbies, to fill in all the spare time she is left with, include gaming and gardening, and she finds time for games on Facebook as well.

An Alabama native who moved to Columbus in the third grade, Lisa now lives in Kentucky with her husband Matthew and children Seamus and Isobeal. Her son Alex, from a previous marriage, has lived in fandom all his life and wants to be a con chair when he grows up. Matthew's day job is in the games industry, and he is known for running art shows at conventions when he's not drafted into helping Lisa with whatever she's up to. Lisa works as a substitute teacher, and her list of previous employers includes the Ohio State Legislature, Victoria's Secret, and the Castle Hill First Baptist School. They aren't wealthy, but Lisa is generous with her time, energy, intelligence, and affection in ways that enrich the lives of everyone she meets.

— Alexander von Thorn