Each year, the State Senate honors women in politics who go above and beyond for their communities. Hempstead Town Councilwoman Laura Ryder has been recognized as one of these “Women of Distinction” for her decades of service to Lynbrook and the town.
“I get a great deal of fulfillment, personal satisfaction and joy from service to others,” Ryder said. “It’s extremely rewarding to me. I enjoy it very much and it’s such a big part of my life.”
Ryder has been volunteering for more than 25 years. In 2021 she channeled that community-mindedness into her work at the time as a Lynbrook village trustee, and her success there earned her an appointment to the Town Board in March. Earlier this month she was honored as a Woman of Distinction by Sen. Patricia Canzoneri-Fitzpatrick, a lifelong resident of Malverne who is familiar with Ryder’s work on Long Island.
“Laura Ryder is a wonderful advocate and representative of her district,” Canzoneri-Fitzpatrick said. “She is a person of grace and dignity who gives her all to her community. I think she’s a shining example of what we all would like to see in our communities.”
Ryder attended the awards ceremony in Albany on May 16 with her husband, Mike, and their daughter, Shannon. She was one of 63 women who were honored.
To residents of Lynbrook and beyond who have benefited from Ryder’s decades of service, the accolade comes as no surprise. “I personally look for people who have contributed significantly to the community,” Canzoneri-Fitzpatrick said of her criteria for the Woman of Distinction award. “Who are involved in charitable work, serving the most vulnerable. And people like Miss Ryder, who have served in a social capacity, I think, make great candidates for this award.”
Ryder is the founder and chair of the Lynbrook Cares Committee, managing a group of volunteers who help elderly and disabled people with tasks like shoveling snow and landscaping. She also volunteers for Lynbrook Community Chest, which provides financial assistance to residents who are struggling, the Lynbrook Beautification Committee and the Malverne School District Special Education PTA, so it’s no wonder that she has added Woman of Distinction to her list of accomplishments.
The award is particularly meaningful for her, Ryder said, because it not only honors her work as a public official, but recognizes the many spinning plates she and other women in politics must balance as politicians, mothers and more.
“I think women, by nature, because of the different roles that we take on in our lives — as mother, as head of our households, as wives, as employers and employees — we really have to learn how to juggle many different things going on in our lives,” she said. “And we are absolutely capable of taking on these roles and having a voice within our communities, representing our constituents and speaking on their behalf. ”
Ryder and Canzoneri-Fitzpatrick both said they hope these awards encourage more women to enter politics and bring their perspectives to the public arena. Ryder also wants to show people that women don’t have to choose between their families, their careers, or service — and that it’s never too late to try something new.
“Just take a chance,” she would say to women thinking about holding public office. “I didn’t get involved in the forefront of politics until I was in my 50s, and it really was a life-changing decision. Don’t let age hold you back. Be ambitious. Go for it. Women can multitask and handle a lot. Don’t let anything hold you back. We can do it.”