‘Hidden Hero’ Patricia Ryan Champions Support for Teachers, Students During Pandemic

March 2, 2021

The Community Foundation of Broward is proud to honor 12 representatives of dedicated nonprofits who have gone above and beyond during the pandemic. Our new Hidden Heroes Awards shine a light on 12 outstanding examples of bold impact by individuals who make life better in our community.

Patricia “Pejay” Ryan is one of the real-life superheroes who are stepping up to help in Broward, just when our community needs them the most.

Community Foundation of Broward Hidden Heroes Award Winner Patricia Ryan of the Broward Education Foundation.

Pejay’s heroic efforts through the Broward Education Foundation championed more support for Broward students and teachers during the pandemic.

When the pandemic hit, Pejay sprang into action to re-imagine and transform each Broward Education Foundation program and event onto a virtual, online format. She ramped up communications with email blasts, social media posts and website content to help tell the story about the challenges students and teachers face during the pandemic, as well as their need for more support.

Pejay found an innovative way for technology to make graduation special for high school seniors who lost out on in-person ceremonies. Pejay helped the Broward Education Foundation create a free app that enabled graduates to record themselves in their homes accepting their diploma from Broward Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie. The app also allowed seniors to join music superstar Flo Rida for a congratulatory message and Tik Tok dance they could share on social media.

In addition, Pejay helped lead the collection and distribution of masks and other Personal Protective Equipment to secure the safety of students, teachers and other school employees.

“It was Pejay who remained at the helm, helping us navigate these uncharted waters and rise above the tides,” said Shea Ciriago, CEO of the Broward Education Foundation. “Each project she engages exceeds expectations.”

The Community Foundation’s Prize patrol surprised Patricia with a cape and medal in recognition of her heroic community service. And like our other Hidden Heroes Award winners, Patricia received a prize package that includes $500, restaurant gift certificates and a two-night staycation at the beautiful Bahia Mar Fort Lauderdale Beach hotel.

After receiving her award, Pejay said she considers Broward’s educators to be true superheroes.
“Keep on keeping on and don’t think any idea is too farfetched, because it’s not,” Pejay said. “It’s a whole new world.”

Pejay is just one example of the many nonprofit hidden heroes all across our community whose hard work helps shape a brighter future for Broward. Thanks to support from philanthropists with charitable Funds at the Community Foundation, these hidden heroes can continue to tackle Broward’s big challenges – during this crisis and beyond.

Click here to see a video of Pejay being surprised with her Hidden Hero Award.

Click here to learn more about the Community Foundation of Broward’s Hidden Heroes Award winners.

Learn More

To learn how the Community Foundation can help you fuel heroic, life-changing philanthropy in Broward, contact Vice President of Philanthropic Services Nancy Thies at nthies@cfbroward.org or 954-761-9503.

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