Women’s History Month: Heather Heath RyanPDF
In celebration of Women’s History Month, Robinson Bradshaw is highlighting women from the firm throughout March. Meet employee benefits attorney Heather Heath Ryan.
Describe what you do at Robinson Bradshaw.
I counsel clients on all aspects of employee benefits and executive compensation matters. From 401(k) plans to ACA compliance to 280G, there’s almost always a benefits or compensation compliance issue or question that pops up, and in those circumstances, my clients and colleagues reach out to me! I enjoy working with clients on a broad range of issues, including fiduciary governance matters and the benefits and compensation issues involved in corporate transactions, including equity compensation, change-in-control arrangements, severance and deferred compensation.
What do you most enjoy about your job?
I love my practice area! This is a complex, ever-changing puzzle of regulatory laws, regulations and advisory guidance. Despite this, there’s almost always a way to present practical compliance options for clients. I like breaking down the complexities into bite-size, relatable chunks that non-ERISA folks can understand so that they can make the best choice for their business.
What advice would you give a younger version of yourself?
What worked for you in the past may not work or be the best fit for you or your family in the future. Be willing to change your script and shift your mindset accordingly. There’s power and freedom in making choices and owning them. Oh and don’t take everything so seriously; keep laughing!
Who is a female role model you admire, and why?
My mother, Cynthia Heath, is most definitely my role model. From fighting for women’s uniforms (not hand-me-down men’s) for the volleyball team she coached to going to law school after years as a high school teacher and with a 2-year-old child (me!), there is no mountain too high for her to climb. If she believes in something, she will find a way. She had a very successful legal and business career, and now in retirement, she leads nonprofit boards and philanthropy efforts in multiple cities across the country. Through it all, she’s never stopped encouraging me to be my best, showing up for my family and mentoring so many women in their individual journeys. Interesting fact: we both went to Washington University in St. Louis for law school and focused our practice on employee benefits and executive compensation. We may be the only mother-daughter ERISA duo out there!
Tell us something about yourself that we wouldn't learn from your website bio.
I am a classically trained singer who loves a good German aria but am also not afraid to belt out a show tune. When I traveled to New York for work for years, I made sure I planned my trips so that I could fit in a show. Single-ticket purchases in the orchestra section were gifts to myself for all the work hours I was putting in. (I saw the original cast of “Hamilton” in NYC twice.) I recently started back with voice lessons and it’s my favorite 30 minutes in the week.