Ryan Croke is the Executive Director of the Illinois Network of Centers for Independent Living (INCIL), where he has served since 2017. As the son of deaf parents, INCIL’s mission of empowerment, integration and inclusion for all people with disabilities is personal to him.
Throughout his career, Ryan has worked in the public interest. From 2015-2017 he supported students, staff and faculty as an Associate Chancellor at the University of Illinois – Springfield, helping navigate university leaders through the unprecedented, 2+ year-long state budget impasse.
Prior to that, he had an extraordinary window into Illinois policymaking, during nearly a decade of service in state government, concluding as Chief of Staff to Illinois’ last Democratic Governor, Pat Quinn.
His time in government was marked by collaboration with executive and legislative branch leaders to accelerate progressive change in Illinois – ranging from the legalization of medical marijuana, to a ban on discrimination against pregnant workers and the abolition of the death penalty. He was a key member of the team that worked to win marriage equality for same-sex couples in Illinois, and the staff that expanded health insurance coverage to more than 800,000 previously uninsured Illinois residents.
As Deputy Chief of Staff, he was the Governor’s primary liaison to ten large state agencies, including Emergency Management, State Police, Natural Resources, Corrections and Veterans Affairs. He coordinated response and recovery work in the aftermath of eleven weather disasters, handling crisis communications and securing emergency financial relief for thousands of eligible families. He received the Abraham Lincoln Award from the National Guard Association of Illinois in 2013 for his work in state government to support the Guard.
From 2006-2009, he served in the Office of the Lieutenant Governor, organizing and leading the Illinois Broadband Deployment Council, which led to the installation of more than 3,000 miles of new fiber optic broadband in communities throughout Illinois, improving rural infrastructure by leveraging more than $200 million in federal, state and private capital investment.
He volunteers on the Boards of Directors for Innovate Springfield and the Boys & Girls Club of Central Illinois and is an active member of Laurel United Methodist Church. He’s also been recognized “for visionary efforts in advocating for individuals who are blind.” Ryan earned a master’s degree in Communication from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he also completed undergraduate programs in Political Science and Communication. He lives in Springfield with his wife Brook and their three children.
Ryan Croke is a public interest advocate based in Springfield, Illinois