Sister Janice Ryan Honored with Lifetime Achievement Award for Community Service

Pictured from left to right, Peggy Williams, Sister Janice Ryan,
Dan Smith (Vermont Community Foundation President & CEO),
Steven Gold, Jake Wheeler (Vermont Community Foundation Board Chair),
Elaine Collins (Lyndon and Johnson State Colleges President)

The Vermont Community Foundation honored Sister Janice Ryan with a Lifetime Achievement Award for Community Service at the Foundation’s Annual Meeting on September 13, 2017 held at Lyndon State College. This award is given to a person who has demonstrated a long-term and significant commitment toward creating healthy and vital Vermont communities.

Dan Smith, President and CEO of the Vermont Community Foundation remarked, “So many lives over so many years have been changed by Sister Janice during her long career. Taking some time to recognize that and say thank you seemed like the right thing to do.”

Sister Janice Ryan is a lifelong advocate for special education, social justice, and criminal justice reform. Born in Fairfield, Vermont in 1936, she attended high school in Burlington and during her last year, joined the novitiate of the Sisters of Mercy. After 40 years in education as a teacher and then President at Trinity College, Ryan left Vermont for Washington, D.C. where she worked to promote fairness and justice. She served as Director of Justice Education and Interfaith Relations under The Justice Project, the Education Director for U.S. Senator James Jeffords, and Project Director of the Catholic Campaign to Ban Landmines. She was influential in the passage of the Vermont Special Education Law and pushed to have it used as the prototype for Congress in developing the nation's special education law. Ryan was also involved with a group that focused on the death penalty and "The Innocent Protection Act," which motivated states to collect DNA from all incarcerated individuals. In 2003, Ryan became the Deputy Commissioner of Corrections for the State of Vermont and is now retired, but still works with prisoners on a regular basis. In 2006, she was honored as one of four Vermont natives who have celebrated 50 years as a Sister of Mercy.

 “I always encouraged our students at Trinity College, regardless of age, to take their place at the table of community responsibility,” said Sister Janice Ryan. “Community service is the glue of our towns and cities. I am so proud and humbled to be the recipient of this Lifetime Achievement Award for Community Service from the Foundation.”

Sister Janice Ryan’s biographical information courtesy of the Vermont Historical Society.

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