Judy Ryan instilled a focus on quality care and education

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The fifth president and CEO of the Good Samaritan Society (1998-2003) hasn’t really left the organization. Judy Ryan, RN, PhD, FAAN, lives across the street from National Campus at Good Samaritan Society – Prairie Creek in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

The 85-year-old jokes she’s residing “in independent living and I’m struggling to stay independent and living.”

A short walk to Society headquarters and the Vermillion native can visit the Ryan prayer garden and building.

“(I’m) a little embarrassed in terms of the Ryan building to tell you the truth,” Judy says about the two-story office space bearing her name.

It’s a well-deserved honor for one of the Society’s humble servants. Judy, an accomplished nurse, is also the first and only clinician to have held the top job.

“It was a blessing to me, it honestly was. It was the finest five years of 47 years of being in health care administration,” Judy says.

‘Felt more like a call’

A part of just the third nursing class at St. Olaf College in Minnesota, Judy’s health care career is headlined by executive roles with the American Nurses Association, the Lutheran General Health System as well as the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics and College of Nursing.

That experience all preceding a vigorous recruitment to the Society in 1998.

“Felt more like a call. I was 61 years old at the time,” Judy says about joining the Society. “(I was) all ready to retire to the mountains and the ocean where we had chosen to live. I just couldn’t say no.”