North Central College - Naperville, IL

North Central College honors Ryan Dowd with Alumni Recognition Award

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This is the fourth of five weekly installments profiling individuals who will receive Alumni Awards & Recognition on Nov. 11 during North Central College’s Sesquicentennial Homecoming Celebration.

Oct. 25, 2011—North Central College is honoring Ryan Dowd of Aurora with its 2011 Alumni Recognition Award.

Dowd and four others will be honored during the College’s Sesquicentennial Convocation at 4 p.m. Friday, Nov. 11, at North Central College’s Wentz Concert Hall at the Fine Arts Center, 171 E. Chicago Ave., Naperville. This year’s event commemorates the 150th anniversary of the first day classes were held at the school on Nov. 11, 1861.

Dowd is executive director of Hesed House in Aurora. Hesed House serves more than 1,000 individuals each year who are homeless, offering a full array of services. He began volunteering at Hesed House when he was 13 years old and joined the staff during his senior year at North Central.

Under Dowd’s leadership, Hesed House has focused on providing services that help people end the cycle of homelessness, becoming one of only five organizations in Kane Country to offer a “one stop shop” comprehensive service center integrated into a shelter. Hesed House is assisted by nearly 6,000 volunteers, including many North Central College students.

Dowd also works with churches—primarily in Africa—that are confronting governments that commit brutal human rights abuses such as torture and extrajudicial killings. While in Zimbabwe in January, he helped church leaders hide political fugitives who were being hunted by security forces armed with machine guns.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in religious studies from North Central College in 2000. He holds a law degree and a master’s degree in public administration from Northern Illinois University.

The Alumni Recognition Award is given to a recent graduate of the College who has excelled in his or her field in a leadership capacity.

Others being honored on Nov. 11 are Outstanding Alumni Award recipients Esther Benjamin of Mitchellville, Md., and Col. Stephen Taylor of Lexington Park, Md.; J. Charles Eldridge of Wake Forest, N.C.; and Wall of Witness honoree James Will of Arlington Heights.

North Central College’s yearlong Sesquicentennial Celebration commemorates the 150th anniversary of the first day of classes on Nov. 11, 1861, and the College’s role in helping to shape the fabric of the Naperville community. Throughout its history, North Central College alumni have distinguished themselves as leaders in the arts, sciences, business, education and many other areas of study. Numerous Sesquicentennial events and projects are planned throughout 2011 and into 2012. Visit to learn more.