Jodi Ritacca Named 2024 Everyday Hero of the Year

by | Jul 2024

In January, Jodi Ritacca accepted her Everyday Hero of the Year award at the annual Woodbury Area Chamber of Commerce’s Community Awards Gala.

In January, Jodi Ritacca accepted her Everyday Hero of the Year award at the annual Woodbury Area Chamber of Commerce’s Community Awards Gala. Photos: Tom Dunn

Jodi Ritacca has been asking—and answering—one question since she moved to Woodbury 31 years ago: How can I help?

“I can help make a difference,” Ritacca says. “I like being involved, and I like being engaged.”

Ritacca walks the talk—and she was named 2024’s Everyday Hero of the Year by the Woodbury Area Chamber of Commerce. Let’s start at the beginning. After signing her daughter up for Girl Scouts when they first moved to Woodbury, Ritacca signed on. “I didn’t anticipate becoming a scout leader, but that’s what happened,” she says. She ended up loving it.

Starting her journalism career in Nebraska, Ritacca moved to Minnesota, and Woodbury in particular, after accepting a health and medical news reporter position at KSTP-TV. That broadcasting background is what connected Ritacca to the Woodbury Community Foundation. Using her production skills, she helped produce a series of fundraising videos.

Word got out, and she did the same for Woodbury Thrives and the St. Paul Fire Foundation. She also helped produce a South Washington Watershed District webinar.

For the last 19 years, she’s served as host and producer for a monthly health and wellness TV program, Inside Health Care. It airs on more than a dozen Twin Cities cable stations, including SWCTC in Woodbury—and it’s all done pro bono.

But her help hasn’t been all camera related. Ritacca has partnered and collaborated with nonprofit organizations like Open Cupboard, SoWashCo CARES, League of Women Voters Woodbury Cottage Grove Area, Woodbury Heritage Society, Woodbury Racial Equity Collaborative, Woodbury Lions and Woodwinds/M Health Fairview.

Woodbury Area Chamber of Commerce’s Community Awards Gala

Does she have a favorite cause or passion? “I just love what I get to do,” she says. If you’re wondering how she keeps it all straight, she says, “I keep a calendar on my phone … It’s full.”

Translation: Ritacca has lots of love.

Her One Inspiration

Ritacca’s grandfather, Joe Ritacca, walked the talk as well.

“He came to the U.S. from Italy, and fought for the Americans in World War I,” says Ritacca, whose sons would also serve their country. Her grandfather ran a service station in Kenosha, Wisconsin, while also being active in his church, his community and its schools.

When he passed away, the local paper ran an editorial honoring his life, with the header, Exemplary Citizens.

“He was my inspiration, and I couldn’t be more proud,” Ritacca says. As Ritacca says this, she mentioned her Everyday Hero award. “My grandpa was willing to die for his adopted country,” Ritacca says. “He’s a hero.”

One Woodbury

When Ritacca moved to Woodbury in the early 1990s, its population was 25,000. Today, it’s nearing 80,000—and its needs are changing.

Ritacca talked up a community garden program that partnered the City of Woodbury with Woodbury Thrives. In 2022, the program started with 16 plots. In 2024, that number is expected to grow to 48.

“Strangers are becoming friends, and some of the food is going to our food shelf,” Ritacca says.

She’s been involved with Bash for Brains, an organization that not only supports research and advancements through the Alzheimer’s Association, but partners with the Woodbury Community Foundation in giving grants to families impacted by the disease and other illnesses.

She’s a supporter of Angels of Hope Memorial-Woodbury, an organization remembering and honoring children who have passed too soon.

While Ritacca loves the direction Woodbury is headed, she says it hasn’t arrived. “People work in Woodbury but can’t afford to live here,” she says. “We don’t have a senior center, and we could be more walkable.

“I know there’s more,” she says.


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