The USPS is the world's largest private and nonprofit boating organization, with a mission, says Commander Ryan, of offering "community service, continuing education, and the friendship and camaraderie of fellow members."
Ryan, who has served two years as Commander of the Greenwich Sail and Power Squadron, will now be responsible for all 16 squadrons of her district, which includes Lake Champlain, Lake George, Sacandaga, the Hudson River areas of New York and the western ends of Connecticut and Massachusetts.
Greenwich Citizen caught up with Ryan to learn more about her new position and her plans for the district.
Q: What are your duties as District Commander?
A: As one of 33 District Commanders in the U.S., I facilitate the USPS mission of education, fellowship and community service to my 16 squadrons. USPS has a great range of activities covering many aspects of the boating world; District makes these happen at the local level.
If a squadron wishes to offer a specialized boating course, I arrange for the district educational officer to find them an instructor from a neighboring squadron, or suggest a place they can hold it. If a squadron wants to organize a children's education program such as our Young Mariners program, I can advise them and guide them through this. If they want to bring a Pirate's Day to their local harbor, my executive officer can provide a master plan for them to set one up. I also chair four conferences a year to disseminate best practices and share these best practices with my district. Between the 16 squadrons we share speakers, meetings and activities.
Q: What attracted you to sailing and boating?
A: First it was being out on the water, silently enjoying the movement of the waves, the sun and being pushed along by the wind. Then I began to take USPS navigation courses. I was lured by the theory, so I recently studied celestial navigation, finally passing a demanding course that includes using a sextant to take sights of the sun.
There's now a JN after my name for Junior Navigator. I'm particularly proud of this and am currently the only officer on our district board with that grade.
Q: What attracted you to the USPS organization? What do you see as its value?
A: To be involved with area boaters and to have the maximum impact I could on teaching boating safety. The USPS was started in 1914 primarily to help educate naval officers. Originally based on Chapman's Piloting, the boater's bible, our courses have become the best in the nation. As an example, the Coast Guard uses our advanced USPS courses for their own members. In order to own a boat with any motor or sailboat over 18 feet you have to have your CT safe boating certificate and many teach a class, but those who have taken our course recognize its value.
Q: What are the qualities that qualify you to be named District Commander?
A: It's all about leadership; knowing who can do what well, and inspiring them to do their best. I see myself as a catalyst combining the expertise of our members and in fact our local boating community to further boating safety. Believing passionately in USPS and our mission is contagious and spreads. By being out there in the community as much as possible, I consider myself an ambassador and now with the District Commander tag hope to be one of the `go-to' people for things boating.
Q: What is your goal as District Commander?
A: To get us better known. We have the best products, the best courses and fun boating events but we do not have name recognition. Next week, I start a districtwide marketing initiative "Let's Get the Word Out There!" promoting our wheel logo as our brand. Our name is confusing (try to Google USPS and you'll be able to buy stamps quicker than you can get to boating information!). We can't change that, but we can inform the public better. District 2 has an amazing pool of enthusiastic talent, and I intend to harness that to further our mission -- and to have fun doing it. Our community outreach is extensive, and locally we will continue our work with Tom O'Connell and the Young Mariners of Greenwich, bringing a class of children from the Boys & Girls Club through an extensive sailing program. As well as being a lot of fun, these children acquire life skills along the way that help them succeed both on and off the water.
For more information about the Greenwich Sail and Power Squadron visit: www.GreenwichSPS.org.