SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — It’s International Women’s Day and this year’s theme is “Choose to Challenge.”
Dr. Judy Ryan has spent 47 years as a public health nurse and senior health executive. The Vermillion, South Dakota native became the president and executive director of Good Samaritan Society in 1998 to pursue her mission of building communities of care for older adults.
“I worked inner city as a public health nurse and then public health was my orientation from the beginning. But you found that so many of the elderly in those settings that you found were in need of care that did not exist,” Ryan said.
She says her greatest accomplishment was helping turn a small town into a continuous care retirement community, called the Community of Care in North Dakota.
When she looks back at her accomplishments she says every experience brought her to where she is today.
“I think of how applicable experiences have been. That I had no idea that would be applicable at this time,” Ryan said.
In 2003 she retired and became an independent living resident at Good Sam. Administrative assistant Lindsey Kitchen says it’s a privilege to serve Ryan after everything she did for the Good Sam community.
“She’s a very good role model to have. I mean, you can trust her. She’s very knowledgeable,” Kitchen said.
Even after her retirement, Dr. Ryan continues to stay active in the GSS community, through leadership and hobby roles.
She spends her down time in the art room painting, and is currently learning to stain glass.
But her mission of creating holistic care isn’t one that ended when she retired.
“I think she is a wonderful lady and that it’s amazing at everything that she has accomplished. You figured with her living here that she would be retired living in a retirement community, but she is always busy working,” Lindsey Kitchen said.
As we celebrate International Women’s Day, she hopes people will come together through peaceful conversations and strive for togetherness.
“I just pray that somehow our country begins to grapple with how we come back together again and recognize that it’s all of us and remove some of the divisions that keep us separate,” Ryan said.
To see how you can participate in International Women’s Day, click here.