North Central College - Naperville, IL

Ryan Dowd

Class Year: 
2000

Alumni Recognition Award Winner 2011

Ryan Dowd ’00 is a devoted worker and advocate for social justice causes locally and internationally. At age 13, he became a volunteer at Hesed House in Aurora, IL, and his mission to help individuals in poverty continued throughout his years at North Central. While a student, he joined the Hesed House staff as assistant program director in the overnight emergency shelter. During his law degree studies, Ryan was an intern with the organization, and in 2004 he was appointed executive director.

Under Ryan’s leadership, the organization has grown to serve 1,000 individuals with the help of 6,000 volunteers, including many North Central students. Hesed House sets a high standard for delivering human services, becoming one of only five organizations in the country to combine a comprehensive array of services like job training and counseling with a homeless shelter. The goal of the organization is to not just manage homelessness, but to end it.

Ryan’s passion for international causes has taken him to Africa to work with churches confronting governments that perpetuate human rights abuses.

After majoring in religious studies at North Central, he went on to complete a law degree and master’s degree in public administration at Northern Illinois University.

Ryan, his wife Krissie and their children live in Sugar Grove, IL.

Watch the video below to see how North Central’s faculty helped Ryan connect his intellectual pursuit to his passion for service.


See video