It Was a Helluva Ride…

Diane, Frank and Ryan Leone at the beginning


It began with papers filed at the Sudbury, MA, Town Hall in September 1985 and ended—my proprietorship that in May 2016, with the sale of the company to two respected colleagues.

The humble origins of RYAN Associates have been recounted before––the story of how our only child Ryan had just been born, how what was intended to be a modest mini-business was established in his name the following month.

The vision took root quickly. Having just received a Master’s degree in public health, my head and heart were focused on making a contribution by helping sick people get well and healthy people stay well. I thought, why not leverage relationships between health organizations and employers to address the health and safety of working populations and their dependents?

Things happened quickly. We took the bold step of organizing a national conference in 1987. That success set the stage for 29––including this year’s event––to follow. After a surprisingly strong start, we moved to Santa Barbara in 1989, secured office space, and hired staff.

At the end of the 1989 national conference in Washington, a prescient young registrant by the name of Roy Gerber (who would become a longtime staff member)took me aside and said,

“If you don’t start a national association soon, someone else will.” So I did.

The NAOHP was founded in 1990 in response to an ad for a healthcare journalist, Karen O’Hara knocked on my door. Fortunately for us, she hung around for 22 years, writing, publishing, organizing, speaking and much more. The company would not be what is today without her dedication and diligence.

Whether consulting, providing education, or keeping tabs on industry trends––the goal has always been the same: to offer occupational health pro- grams the tools they need to provide the highest quality, most impactful, and cost-effective care to employers clients, and their employees.

So it was that Tim and Cindy Ross assumed ownership of RYAN Associates in May. Many other suitors expressed interest but Tim and Cindy’s vision was most akin to mine and thus will likely sustain the legacy we have created. They are Indiana natives (what’s not to like about a Hoosier?), and both have a rich background in occupational health. Plus they offer a unique and valuable balance of personalities and skills: I have been extremely impressed with Tim’s vision and business acumen and with Cindy’s warmth, graciousness, and professionalism. You will enjoy getting to know them both. As for me? I will remain actively involved with RYAN Associates through this fall’s national conference and available, as deemed necessary by Tim and Cindy, beyond that date.

Going forward, I would like to speak out on social issues that are important to me and try, one last time, to become a really good golfer. But I am not fooling anyone if I think I can completely walk away from occupational health. It has been my life’s work and so much more needs to be done.

A few months ago, a friend opined that at the end of life two things really matter: that you were well liked and that you leave something meaningful behind. My 31-year run has not been as much about accomplishments or success as it has been about the hundreds of professional colleagues throughout the country who have become beloved friends. The legacy of supporting occupational health providers, and providers in general, needs to be sustained by those who follow–– including our new owners and anyone reading these words who appreciates the unique and compelling opportunity inherent in occupational health.

Onward and upward!

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