Amy Ryan: The Town of Leland’s Event Maestro
You know the events, and you love them. Outdoor concerts and movies, Night Hunt for eggs, Trunk or Treat, Founders’ Day…all the wonderful moments that bring the residents of Leland together week after week. Yet do you know the powerhouse that has been planning these for eight years?
Meet Amy Ryan, the Recreation Supervisor for Leland.
Ryan is the quiet yet hardworking force that makes the Town of Leland’s events happen. She dreams them, then makes them a reality.
Originally, Ryan came to the area from Greensboro to major in social work at the University of North Carolina – Wilmington. But she realized that she had the tendency to become too emotionally invested and the field might not be the right fit for her. She somewhat stumbled on Parks & Recreation as a major, and was immediately hooked.
“I love the event planning,” Ryan explains, “and realizing that I can still give back and do things to help people, to make their life a little better, in a different way [I loved].”
For her program work, she needed an internship and a professor connected her with the Town of Leland and Niel Brooks, currently the Assistant Town Manager for Leland.
“Amy has been an asset to the Town of Leland since her first day many years ago as an intern from UNCW,” Brooks says.
The internship was twelve weeks, but after the internship was complete, she was kept on board and then offered a permanent position. She was excited to accept and has been here ever since.
“When I moved down here, and actually got introduced to Leland, it was a small town. I grew up in a small town. Knowing it’s another small town, and the community that’s in it, it draws you in,” Ryan explains why she fell in love with the job. “Within my internship, I got the chance to do those events and meet the community, and they were the most welcoming and nice people.”
In the position, Ryan strives to plan events for the town that are focused on community-building and lifestyle enhancement. She particularly loves family-friendly events and opportunities to connect the community to nature.
”Parks & Recreation allows a family to come together at a park for a picnic…to hear a concert without having to pay a fee…you can’t put a price tag on being able to be out as a family and able to relax.”
While Ryan’s favorite event is most likely Trunk or Treat, she also oversees Founders’ Day (the biggest event the town plans), the concert and movies series, The Leland We Don’t Know tour, kayaking excursions, summer camps in coordination with the Leland Cultural Arts Center, Breakfast with Santa, the Night Hunt, and Bark in the Park.
“My favorite part of everything is doing a large community event and seeing kids come out for the first time, or seeing a whole family coming out and not having to wonder how much it costs to do something together,” Ryan says. “Or the first time a kid sees Santa, it’s a magical moment and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”
But Ryan is interested in adding more events to the town’s repertoire and is willing to try nearly anything. She personally wants to see more lecture series as well as more nature programs (for all ages).
”We try to be innovative and add things that other towns aren’t doing, so it gives us a unique twist on things.”
Of course, her biggest challenge in her job is the weather. Specifically, the heat. But Ryan and her colleagues have learned through the years how to plan around it.
Ryan’s hard work is paying off, too, as Leland’s events grow in attendance every year. The community seems to have a hunger for gathering opportunities and certainly show their support.
”Leland is a strong community,” Ryan shares. “People seem to want to interact with each other, and not stay separate. People are moving from everywhere to Leland, it still kind of stays a small town.”
But to Niel Brooks, Ryan’s work is a contributing factor to the success and growth of Leland.
“Her dedication to making Leland a better place for all residents from small children to seniors is evident in everything she does,” Brooks adds. “She has a passion for community events and under her leadership, our special events have grown from a few dozen participants at each in the early years to the hundreds and sometimes thousands that we draw today. Always quick with a smile, Amy is a great representative of the Town of Leland.”
But Ryan doesn’t do this job for recognition. In fact, she works tirelessly behind the scenes, never demanding the spotlight. Yet this town wouldn’t be what it is today, the opportunities to come together as a community, if it weren’t for Amy Ryan’s dedicaton.
To keep updated on all of the Town of Leland’s events, visit www.townofleland.com.
To submit an idea for an event, email firstname.lastname@example.org.