2017 Community Leader of the Year: Mindy Ryan

The Village of Greenport wouldn’t look like it does today if it weren’t for Mindy Ryan. Through various cleaning and beautification efforts, including the revamping of the American Legion Hall, she has proved that one person can make a difference. 

That’s why Ms. Ryan has been named The Suffolk Times’ Community Leader of the Year for 2017.

“She is very grounded and rooted to the North Fork,” said Jerry Cibulski of Greenport, a local real estate agent.

Ms. Ryan’s effort to help Greenport began last year during her regular morning runs, when she started noticing trash and litter around the village. Not only did she pick it up herself, but she posted about it on social media, inspiring others to follow suit.

With the help of Greenport Village Trustee Mary Bess Phillips, Ms. Ryan soon launched the “One Bag at a Time Project” via the “Let’s Talk Village of Greenport” Facebook page. During her runs, she’d fill a bag with trash and encouraged residents to do the same.

“The discussion of trash was how I really got to meet her personally,” Ms. Phillips said. “She has a lot of effervescent drive.”

The project instructed residents to pick up garbage they saw on the street, beaches, sidewalks or in bushes, and post about it to keep the momentum going in the community.

“What she’s doing in her day, she actually shares that out with others,” Mr. Cibulski said. “It just comes from a very honest place.”

Ms. Ryan has sparked change in the village through her example. Mr. Cibulski said that after he saw her posting about trash in the area, he began noticing the same thing. He added that what he saw most was discarded coffee cups and lids.

“I was like, if I’m getting coffee cups myself, I’m only feeding to that stream,” Mr. Cibulski said. “So then I was like why don’t I start using a reusable container for my coffee and just stop with the coffee cups and the lids. So it’s things like that she’s doing that influence people around her to make this a better place.”

Ms. Ryan has also posted about recycling whatever possible.

“You have to get past the outrage and feel good about doing good,” Ms. Ryan said in a previous interview with The Suffolk Times. “Just stop the anger and do something … You don’t have to save the world here, but one bag at a time, everybody pitches in.”

Most recently, Ms. Ryan has taken on the role of general manager at the Greenport American Legion, which has been out of commission for over a decade. It is expected to reopen in 2018. Ms. Ryan, along with her team, is determined to make the space more than a roller rink. Possibilities include parties, weddings, movie nights and much more.

“She has a lot of good ideas, and she’s good with delegating out to other people, so it’s a good collaborative,” Mr. Cibulski said. “It’s not one person that’s trying to do something with total control.

It’s a very supportive environment on this. That’s why I’m excited to hear that she’s being honored, because it makes sense.”

Ms. Ryan’s work is sure to continue in 2018 with her leadership of the legion and her following in Greenport.

“I think that as far as being a member of the Village of Greenport community, she’s setting an example of someone who is pushing forward on what I think our community is really all about, helping out and tackling problems,” Ms. Phillips said.

Photo caption: While some community members spent Earth Day lounging around the house or running menial errands. Mindy Ryan was leading a beach cleanup effort in Greenport. (Credit: Grant Parpan, file photo)

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Previous Winners
*The award was previously called Civic Person of the Year

2016 — Valerie Shelby and Sonia Spar
2015 — Don Fisher
2014 — Designer show house organizers
2013 — Ron and Doris McGreevy
2012 — Group for the East End
2011 — American Legion Post restoration volunteers
2010 — Peggy Murphy
2009 — North Fork Community Theater
2008 — Lori Luscher
2007 — Committee for Phil McKnight
2006 — Relay for Life organizers
2005 — Merle Levine
2004 — Christine Roache
2003 — Barbara Taylor
2002 — Kim Tetrault
2001 — Elinor May
2000 — Mark Miller
1999 — George Hubbard Sr.
1998 —Ed Siegmann
1997 — Freddie Wachsberger
1996 — Shelley Scoggin
1995 — Craig Richter
1994 — Stewardship Task Force
1993 — Walt Krupski
1992 — The Eklunds
1991 — Bill Grigonis
1990 — Merlon Wiggin
1989 — Jeanne Marriner
1988 — Ray Nine
1987 — Bessie Swann