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Ryan awarded 2021 COVID-19 Hero Citizenship Medal

April 7, 2022, 7:45 am

The state of Colorado on Wednesday issued the following press release on Edwards resident and former Eagle County Commissioner Jill Ryan, now the head of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment Executive, being awarded the 2021 COVID-19 Hero Citizenship Medal:

Gov. Jared Polis has awarded Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment Executive Director Jill Hunsaker Ryan with the 2021 COVID-19 Hero Citizenship Medal, one of the highest honors in the state. Ryan will receive the award at a ceremony tonight  for her work in guiding Colorado’s ongoing pandemic response.

Jill Ryan

Since 2015, Governor’s Citizenship Medals have been presented by CiviCO, a nonprofit that cultivates civic-minded leaders, in recognition of extraordinary community contributions made by Colorado residents. In 2020, the COVID-19 Hero category was added to honor individuals “who have taken bold action in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic,” and state epidemiologist Dr. Rachel Herlihy was among the first to receive the award. 

“This is such an incredible honor, and I share it with the entire public health system, including local public health agencies and my amazing team at CDPHE. The pandemic has been so hard for everyone, but Colorado is in a really good place today. To me, this medal represents just how far we have all come together,” said Hunsaker Ryan.

“Since the very beginning of the pandemic, Jill has worked tirelessly, leading the department through the most daunting and complex public health crisis Colorado has experienced in modern times,” said Dr. Eric France, chief medical officer, CDPHE. “There is no playbook for how to respond to something of COVID’s magnitude, but Colorado is lucky to have someone with Jill’s level of leadership skills and grace under pressure.”

Jill Hunsaker Ryan, MPH, is a public health professional with 25 years of experience in the field. She took the helm at CDPHE in January 2019, just 13 months before the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in Colorado. Under Ryan’s direction, Colorado’s pandemic response story is one of collaboration and resilience. Colorado currently ranks 10th lowest for COVID-19 deaths per 100,000. 

Ryan has also helped lead CDPHE through one one of the largest vaccination efforts in Colorado’s history — an ongoing endeavor that has resulted in more than 4.4 million Coloradans receiving  COVID vaccine. Currently, Colorado ranks 10th among U.S. states in the percentage of the population that has gotten a third dose, and 15th among states on fully vaccinating kids ages 5-17. 

This year, nine individuals and one company were awarded Governor’s Citizenship Medals. Watch a segment by Rocky Mountain PBS honoring the 2021 recipients.

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