Beliefnet's Most Inspiring Person of 2005--Victoria Ruvolo

How a Long Island woman who showed compassion for her attacker became Beliefnet's Most Inspiring Person of the Year.

We tried something a bit different in choosing this year's Most Inspiring Person. In the past, we had two final selections--one made by Beliefnet's editors and one "people's choice" winner chosen by our readers. This year, the process was collaborative. The community and the editorial team nominated a large field of candidates, editors picked a slate of 12 inspiring people, then through daily votes on the site the readers narrowed down that field to the final three, and the editors made the

final selection of Victoria Ruvolo.


The surprise was that, thus empowered, Beliefnet's readers systematically knocked all of the most famous candidates out of the running. Victoria Ruvolo, the Long Island woman who urged a judge to deal leniently with her assailant, got more votes than

Rick Warren


, the mega-preacher and best-selling author who is now giving away most of his money to help fight disease, illiteracy, and poverty in Africa.

David Rozelle

, an American soldier who lost his foot in Iraq and then returned to combat, beat out rock star-activist



, despite his work with world leaders to combat global poverty and injustice.

Of course, the perversity of this year's process is that it forced people to vote against some tremendously inspiring people: the

Iraqi voters

, who risked their lives for freedom on election day;

Rosa Parks

, whose pivotal role in the civil-rights movement was highlighted this year of her death;

Akbar Ahmed and Judea Pearl

, who have responded to the murder of Prof. Pearl's son Daniel Pearl by joining forces to teach interfaith understanding;

Donyea Goodwin
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Steven Waldman, Editor-in-Chief
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