Lisa G. Ryan Joins the Staff
Long-time Friend, Supporter And Volunteer Becomes Newest Operations Director
Many of you already know Lisa Ryan from her volunteer work with Hackensack Riverkeeper. It all began about five years ago, when she moved back to the area after living for 15 years in New Brunswick, NJ.
Lisa had a defining moment when she tried to take her beloved dog, Thelma, to Leonia for a swim in the Overpeck Creek. She was shocked and disgusted at the filth they found lining the banks. This was not the Hackensack River she came to love growing up in Harrington Park.
Shortly thereafter, Lisa contacted Hackensack Riverkeeper to volunteer for river cleanups, but was told that there was no available staff or funding for river cleanups. For the next four years, Hackensack Riverkeeper supported Lisa’s (now) 12 annual volunteer cleanups, providing opportunities for hundreds of people from all areas of the Hackensack River watershed to clean up dumpster loads of debris. Thelma has happily done her part by cleaning up all those pesky pizza crusts!
Lisa graduated from Northern Valley Regional High School in Old Tappan in 1985 as the president of her senior class. At Rutgers University, she completed a double major in French and political science in 1990, using part of that time to study in France, focusing on international relations and underdeveloped countries. Upon returning to the United States, she began volunteering and later became the Rutgers chapter coordinator for the human rights organization CISPES (Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador). Her activities included public education campaigns, fundraising and participation in a fact-finding mission to El Salvador during its civil war, where she met with educational, religious, political and labor groups.
Shortly after graduating Rutgers, Lisa was out jogging when she saw a “Help Wanted” sign in the window of a copy store. Being in dire need of rent money and unsure of her plan to work as a translator for the UN, Lisa stopped in and was hired as the manager, leading to a 10-year career in the printing industry as a graphic designer and production manager. When her brother opened a litigation support company in Bergen County in 2000, Lisa worked there as a bookkeeper and office manager during which time she learned a great deal about the environmentally atrocious legal industry (paper, paper, paper!). From 2002 until October 2004, Lisa worked as a bookkeeper and office manager for the trucking division of an international freight forwarding company based in Port Newark, NJ.
Eventually realizing that, although she was fully qualified and on her way to success in the corporate world, she was ultimately unmotivated by the profiteering that drove all of these industries. A few days after deciding to find a way out of the rat race, she spoke to her good friend Kathy Urffer, who announced that she was moving to Vermont and that Hackensack Riverkeeper was looking for her replacement as operations director.
Having spent the last four years organizing river cleanups for Hackensack Riverkeeper and being peripherally involved in many other programs, there was no doubt in Lisa’s mind that this is where she is meant to be. “I actually have a job promoting and protecting something that I grew up with and something that I really care about,” said Lisa. “I look forward to contributing to the cause.”
In addition to her bookkeeping and administrative responsibilities, Lisa will be coordinating our volunteers, so feel free to give her a call or stop in the office. She and Thelma will happily greet you at the door and put you to work!
Previous Article | Next Article
Return to News Page