Sister Janice E. Ryan (Sister Mary Brian) was a Sister of Mercy for 68 years. Sister Janice received her early education in Fairfield and graduated from Mount Saint Mary Academy in Burlington, Vermont. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Trinity College and Master of Education in Special Education from Boston University. She did graduate study at Harvard University, University of Lund, Sweden, University of Minnesota, and Cardinal Stritch College, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Sister Janice began her ministry as a teacher at Cathedral Elementary and Junior High School in Burlington, Vermont. She then transitioned to Trinity College to begin a long career that was dynamic and immeasurable in its impact. She served as Assistant Professor, Special Education, Director of Public Relations and Development, Director of Diagnostic and Pre-School Programs for Handicapped Children, Chairperson for Division of Special Education, and Executive Director of Vermont/Champlain ARC, organizations representing persons with developmental disabilities and their families. Additionally, she was instrumental in the passage of Public Law 94-142 Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. She was President of Trinity College from 1979–1996.
Sister Janice then moved on to become Project Director of Catholic Campaign to Ban Landmines, United States Catholic Conference in Washington D.C., Education Director for U.S. Senator James Jeffords, Vermont, and Director of the Justice Initiative under the Justice Project, Washington D.C. Upon returning to Vermont, she became Deputy Commissioner, State Department of Corrections.
Throughout her career, Sister Janice was the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including Honorary Doctoral Degrees from St. Michael’s College and Middlebury College, the University of Vermont’s Distinguished Service Award, National Association of Independent Colleges Award for Loyal Services, and the Vermont Times Woman of the Year Award, Sister Janice will be remembered for her clear thinking; high expectations of herself and of others; belief in the efficacy of strong and steady advocacy; dedication to the charism of the Sisters of Mercy; empowerment of others, especially women and persons with disabilities; propensity to give someone a chance and/or a new opportunity or experience; her ability to “work a crowd”; her thirst for knowledge; her many friendships; and love of travel which enabled her to participate in several experiential programs and educational tours.