WASHINGTON, N.C. — Deborah “Debbie” Ryals received the North Carolina Association of County Directors of Social Services (NCACDSS) Lifetime Achievement Award at the Association’s executive board meeting in June.

The Lifetime Achievement Award is presented each year to a retired or former director of social services who has made a lasting impact in the field of social work and contributed to the betterment of the community.

Ryals, a longtime Washington resident, began her career in social services with the Durham County Department of Social Services in 1969. She served in several positions in Pitt and Lenoir County departments of social services and finished her career as the Director of Greene County Department of Social Services in 2000. She has been an adjunct professor for the East Carolina University School of Social Work since 1998.

She served on the Beaufort County Department of Social Services Board for many years, and Ryals has served on numerous committees and boards in the community including at First United Methodist Church. She was instrumental in organizing the local domestic violence shelter and served as president on the shelter’s board of directors.

Debbie Ryals is married to Phil Ryals. They have two children, Kristen Smithwick (Austin) and James Ryals (Megan) and four grandchildren; Sydney, Braden, Isabella and Mae.