Debbie Ross Retires After 41 Years as Resident House Director

Resident House Director Debbie Ross laughs with a child at the Albany Ronald McDonald HouseAfter more than 41 years at the helm of the Albany Ronald McDonald House, resident director Debbie Ross has officially retired. Though she will soon move out of the Victorian home on S. Lake Avenue where she has worked and lived since 1981, Debbie will forever be the foundation and the heart of “The House That Love Built.”

“From its very origins, Debbie Ross has been the healing heart and soul of the Ronald McDonald House,” says Dr. Bill Cromie, founding board member. “She has brought comfort and inspiration to tens of thousands of families living through the worst moments in their life. After 41 years of wonderful service, she deserves a joyful retirement full of blessings, as she has been a blessing to so many others.”

A young Debbie Ross poses for a photo with Ronald McDonald at an early Ronald McDonald House event.Debbie Ross was hired as a young social worker to open the doors of a new Ronald McDonald House in Albany, NY — originally an eight-bedroom home for families with seriously ill children receiving care at nearby Albany Medical Center. Seven years later, she oversaw the House’s first expansion, doubling the organization’s capacity to welcome families in need. In 2015, Debbie was a driving force behind the House’s next expansion, bringing it to its current 25-bedroom capacity and curating every detail to maintain a warm, homelike, and loving environment for each family that walks through the doors. Over the course of her distinguished career, Debbie has welcomed more than 23,000 families to “The House That Love Built” and has had a profound impact on more lives than anyone can count.

Lori Emery, Lynn Underhill and Debbie Ross stand together in front of the stone fireplace and tree of life recognition wall at the grand opening of the Ronald McDonald Family Retreat at Krantz Cottage.As Debbie managed day-to-day operations at the Ronald McDonald House and continually cultivated the compassion of the community to help the House grow, she also played a critical role in developing new programs at Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Capital Region (RMHC-CR). Today, in addition to the House, the organization operates the Ronald McDonald Family Room and Comfort Cart inside the Bernard & Millie Duker Children’s Hospital at Albany Med, offers support to NICU families through the HOPE (Helping Our Preemies Excel) program, and runs the first-of-its-kind Ronald McDonald Family Retreat at Krantz Cottage in Lake George. For many years, Debbie dreamed of developing a program that would give families with very sick children a chance to spend quality time together and make memories far away from the hospital. Through her dedicated efforts, that dream became a reality with the opening of the Ronald McDonald Family Retreat in July of 2021.

“It has been such a privilege to wake up every morning and walk down the stairs of the Ronald McDonald House as resident house director,” says Debbie. “I’ve found great purpose in my life by helping families with sick children in absolutely any way possible. Even in retirement, that will always be my passion. For more than 41 years, I have been a witness to so much love poured out from our community. That love is what built this house, what sustains this house, and what I hope will always be at the very core of RMHC of the Capital Region.”

Debbie Ross receives a Distinguished Service Award (glass blown heart) at the 40 Years of Love Gala celebrating Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Capital Region.Debbie retires as the longest-serving resident house director in the global RMHC network, which spans 49 countries and regions and more than 380 Ronald McDonald House programs around the world. She has been recognized with numerous awards and accolades over the last four decades, including the Distinguished Service Award presented at RMHC-CR’s 40 Years of Love anniversary celebration in 2022. Most importantly, she has dedicated not just her career but her entire life to caring for sick and injured children and their families with love and compassion. She leaves a legacy that will continue to shape how RMHC-CR meets the needs of families for years to come.

As RMHC-CR celebrates Debbie’s 41+ years of dedicated and loving service, past Ronald McDonald House guest families, volunteers, community partners, supporters and friends are invited to share well-wishes, words of gratitude, and special memories with her. Please use the form below to leave an electronic message, or send messages by mail to RMHC of the Capital Region, 139 S. Lake Avenue, Albany, NY 12208. All messages received will be shared with Debbie directly, and may also be used by RMHC-CR to showcase her incredible and enduring impact.

Words of Love for Debbie Ross

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