Ryan Dowd was named the 2013 Outstanding Alumni of the Year during the Northern Illinois University (NIU) Alumni Association Awards program on April 19 for his commitment to public service. He previously served as executive director of Hesed House, the second-largest homeless shelter in Illinois.
He left that position in Aurora to relocate to Washington, D.C., to work in human rights. Dowd will launch the Center for Faith and Human Rights to “provide churches around the world with the tools, resources and training necessary to help local church leaders defend against human rights violations,” he says. Dowd’s distinguished honors from the NIU College of Law include the Alumni Distinguished Service Award (2008), the Clover Family Award (the 2003 graduate with the most volunteer hours), the Diedrich Award (2003 graduate with greatest commitment to civil rights) and the Dickerson Award (2003 graduate with strongest commitment to public interest law).
His other honors include the American Society for Public Administration Outstanding Practioner Award from NIU’s master of public administration (M.P.A.) program in 2013, and the Alumni Recognition Award in 2011 from North Central for excelling in his field in a leadership capacity and his devotion to social justice causes locally and internationally. Dowd holds a dual juris doctorate and an M.P.A. degree from NIU.