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Ryan Named Woman of the Year

Pioneering Middlesex County DA is honored for a long list of accomplishments.

Photo/Reba Saldanha April 3, 2019  Photograph by Reba Saldanha

Citing a long list of courageous personal moves and professional accomplishments, Professor Sharon Beckman, who spoke at an April 4 event of the Boston College Women’s Law Center (WLC), paid tribute to longtime Middlesex County District Attorney Marian Ryan ’79 as the group’s 11th Annual Woman of the Year.

Beckman described Ryan as courageous, creative, collaborative, and extremely generous, traits that earned her the WLC’s honor.

Every year the WLC recognizes an alumna who has shown exceptional commitment to the legal profession, her community, and BC Law. In bestowing the honor, the group honored Ryan for her work balancing prosecution and crime prevention, and in particular for implementing significant changes to handling non-violent offenses to avoid the negative impact of pretrial detention. Further, Ryan has been a leader in addressing the opioid crisis and in the fight for criminal justice reform.

The WLC also recognized Ryan as an inspiration to the next generation of female lawyers. Beckman praised her for being a “tremendous teacher, mentor, and role model for women,” and for that, on behalf of the Women’s Law Center, Beckman thanked her.

Ryan not only became the first female district attorney in Massachusetts, she has also been a trailblazer her entire career.

Since her graduation from Boston College Law School, she has done everything from investigations to trials to appeals. She worked through personal trauma—surviving an assault and witnessing the murder of her then-boyfriend—to focus her energy on preventing harm, according to her website biography.

In her speech at BC Law, Ryan expressed her gratitude: “It’s something very special when the people who know you best recognize you at a place that means a great deal to [you].”