Sharon Ryan’s long history of volunteer work and community service includes leadership positions in support of education, the arts, and social agencies serving the needs of families and children. Her efforts have resulted in millions of dollars raised for the betterment of the community, both here in Minnesota and on the East Coast, where she has roots.
Ryan currently serves as chair of the United Theological Seminary board of trustees and vice president of the American Occupational Therapy Foundation. She is a past vice chair of the board of directors for Tubman Family Alliance, for which she chaired a $12 million capital campaign in support of a facility to provide abused families with housing, health care services, education, and occupational skills training.
Ryan has served on a variety of other local boards, including Penumbra Theatre and African-American Family Services, as well as chair of the board of trustees for Breck Episcopal College Preparatory School. She also co-chaired the Minneapolis St. Paul Links’ 2008 Harlem Renaissance-themed gala, which raised $100,000 for Big Brothers Big Sisters and the Links Scholarship Fund.Known for her authentic and pragmatic leadership style, Ryan excels at keeping her colleagues focused on the best interests of the organization. Her strong work ethic, personal integrity, genuine regard for other people and willingness to confront tough challenges have enabled her to be a successful change agent in many settings. Dr. Robert A. Brown, president of Boston University, also praised Ryan’s “wonderful sense of humor, which she employs at just the right time to diffuse tensions during heated discussions, enabling us to make progress on difficult issues.”
Ryan is distinguished by her personal commitment to philanthropy. She not only “talks the talk,” she “walks the walk” in terms of contributing her time and talents to the causes she believes in. Her good friend, Kimberly Price, who has worked with Ryan on the Breck School board notes, “Whenever Sharon takes on a leadership challenge, you know that she will give it her all. She sets the pace and inspires others by her example. Her life’s journey is the source of her passion to give back, and she operates in accordance with the Biblical directive, ‘To whom much is given, much is required.’”
A graduate of Boston University’s occupational therapy program at Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Services, Ryan has served on the university’s board of trustees since 2000. She is currently chair of the Student Affairs Committee and a member of the Executive Committee. She was co-chair of the university’s Marsh Plaza Renovation Project, which included the restoration of a sculpture of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who earned his doctorate from Boston University. She also chaired a multimillion- dollar campaign to renovate a brownstone dormitory on the campus to house Sargent College students studying rehabilitation medicine.