20 Under 40: Norma Ruth Ryan is a ‘fun generating machine’ for the Steamboat community | SteamboatToday.com

20 Under 40: Norma Ruth Ryan is a ‘fun generating machine’ for the Steamboat community

Norma Ruth Ryan
John F. Russell/Steamboat Pilot & Today

A believer in creating a stronger community, and an architect of joy, Norma Ruth Ryan moved to Steamboat five years ago looking for a change in her life and seeking genuine connections.

After bouncing around a bit in the workforce, Ryan found a home for herself as the taproom manager at Storm Peak Brewery where she is also regarded as the “fun generating machine.”

She values a more livable community for the employees of Steamboat and advocated for expanded city employee benefits, bonuses and raises. She also organized a free CPR clinic for anyone employed in Steamboat so more people can be prepared in an emergency. 

“We’re such a small town that we just assume there’s always going to be a firefighter or a cop around,” Ryan said. “We always kind of just make these assumptions in a small town.”

Ryan, 38, also sits on the board of LiftUp Routt County, an organization that helps families in need by offering things like rent assistance, utility assistance, firewood, food banks and a thrift store. She said she is the only member on the board that has received their services, making the organization hit even closer to home for her. 

Ryan used her job at Storm Peak to create the Peak2Peak fundraiser that raised money for LiftUp, bringing together two of her favorite parts of Steamboat. 

This fundraiser brought the community together by getting participants to travel between each Storm Peak Brewery location by any means other than driving. Everyone had a great time with the event that raised around $10,000.

One of her greatest impacts in the community came last summer when Sleepy Bear Mobile Home Park lost all power for several months. Ryan, a resident of Sleepy Bear, said she was without power for 72 days. 

If you go

What: 2022 20 Under 40 Celebration

When: 5 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 1

Where: Snow Bowl Steamboat, 2090 Snow Bowl Plaza

Tickets: steamboatpilot.com/20under40

“Walking around your house at night without any lights on feels very unsafe,” Ryan said. “You can’t just flip a switch on to go to the bathroom. If you’re grabbing a lantern to go through your house, it feels like you’re in a deserted, abandoned home.”

Despite suffering through that, Ryan was determined to make the lives of Sleepy Bear residents slightly more bearable.

She helped raise $25,000 in donations for affected families, got several local businesses to provide food, drinks and ice and she succeeded in her mission to create a space for the kids to play regardless of their difficult living situation.

Lisa Bressler, who nominated Ryan, is inspired by the passion and fun she incorporates in her leadership.

“Norma is a kind and considerate leader who quietly forms connections with every member of her team, while leading them forward as a cohesive group,” Bressler said in the nomination.

Some of that leadership experience may have come from Leadership Steamboat from which she graduated at the height of COVID despite the already implemented lockdown. 

Ryan’s biggest goal is to make the people around her more happy and to see them having fun. 

“Expanding the opportunity to access joy is the kind of thing I want to provide for the rest of my life,” Ryan said. “Fun and joy are my priority.”

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