Founding president and CEO of Roundup River Ranch to retire |

Founding president and CEO of Roundup River Ranch to retire

Ruth B. Johnson announces her plans to retire this year after nearly two decades of service

Special to the Daily
Ruth B. Johnson with a Roundup River Ranch camper.
Roundup River Ranch/Courtesy photo

After 17 and a half years, Ruth B. Johnson, the founding president and CEO of Roundup River Ranch, recently announced her plan to retire at the end of 2022.

Roundup River Ranch is a nonprofit organization dedicated to enriching the lives of children with serious illnesses and their families by offering free, medically supported camp programs that provide unforgettable opportunities to discover joy, friendship, and confidence. The organization has provided over 18,000 camper experiences for children and families from 39 states plus Puerto Rico, and has evolved to offer 52 programs year-round.

Johnson is credited with building one of the most a significant and stable nonprofit organizations in the area, raising nearly $5 million a year from hundreds of donors so that no camper ever pays a fee to participate.

“It has been the honor of a lifetime to serve Roundup River Ranch‘s mission and our campers and their families,” Johnson said. “There is never a perfect time for this type of transition, but it is easier knowing the extraordinary capabilities and commitment of our Board of Directors, professional staff, and volunteers. I am leaving a part of my heart at Roundup River Ranch. I will be forever grateful for the time I have spent here and the impact it has had on my life, and will continue to do all I can to help Roudup River Ranch even after my retirement.”

After so many years of dedication, Johnson said she and her husband, Kris, look forward to traveling and spending more time with family — especially her growing list of grandchildren. However, Roundup River Ranch will never be far from her thoughts.

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“Ruth has been the heart and soul of Roundup River Ranch and has served with dedication, vision, and integrity,” said Cathie Bennett, the board chair. “One of the greatest legacies Ruth will leave behind is an extraordinarily engaged board and employee culture of excellence. We’re thankful she has positioned us well and given us enough notice to run a thorough process to identify the person best-suited to succeed her.”

Roundup River Ranch officials break ground in 2009 on the 125-acre campsite at 8333 Colorado River Road in Gypsum.
Roundup River Ranch/Courtesy Photo

While the Roundup River Ranch Board of Directors launches a nationwide search for her successor, Johnson said she remains focused on assuring the organization’s mission and vision will meet the needs of children with serious illnesses for decades to come. Guided by the three strategic pillars of excellence, sustainability, and growth, Johnson’s tenure has been marked by many significant milestones, some of which include:

  • Engaging Children’s Hospital Colorado to become Roundup River Ranch’s Founding Medical Partner in 2006
  • Raising $20 million from 2007-2010 through the Campaign for Laughter, to build out plans for the campsite
  • Implementing On the Road in 2008, a program that took 28 campers from Colorado to experience SeriousFun Camps in California, Connecticut, Florida, and North Carolina while waiting for construction at Roundup River Ranch to be finished
  • Breaking ground in 2009 on the 125-acre campsite at 8333 Colorado River Road in Gypsum
  • Welcoming 241 campers for the inaugural season of camp at Roundup River Ranch in 2011
  • Gaining acceptance as a member of the American Camp Association in 2011 and as a full member of SeriousFun Children’s Network in 2012
  • The declaration by Denver Mayor Michael Hancock in 2016 declaring June 20 as Colorado Camp Day in honor of Roundup River Ranch’s 10th anniversary.
  • Opening DJ’s Junction in 2018, a new building to provide more space for full-time staff, housing for volunteers, and an indoor program area for campers.
  • Receiving an overwhelmingly positive response for pivoting to virtual programs in response to the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. Camp Online and Joy, Delivered provided 2,921 camper experiences that brought the magic of camp straight from their own homes or hospital rooms.
  • Reaching a pinnacle of 5,774 camper experiences in 2021 – impacting more children with serious illnesses and their families than ever before.

“Ruth led Roundup River Ranch through so many significant developments since our founding. She helped us become the well-respected, highly successful organization we are today,” Bennett said. “She will be missed tremendously, but her legacy of compassion and excellence will endure.”

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