The announcement follows a four-month search undertaken after Founding Executive Director Ann Ford’s retirement in March. Mr. Croke is currently the Associate Chancellor for Public Affairs at the University of Illinois Springfield, where he has served since 2015. He will begin in his new role with INCIL on August 16.
“We are thrilled to have found a new Executive Director with Ryan’s leadership, poise, and commitment to disability advocacy,” said Daisy Feidt, INCIL’s Board President. “This is a pivotal time for the disability rights movement in America, and we are confident that Ryan can build on our past victories, in order to protect and advance the goals of Centers for Independent Living throughout Illinois.”
“As the son of deaf parents, this work is personal. INCIL stands for equal opportunity, dignity and inclusion for people with disabilities and I cannot wait to devote my full energy to its mission,” said Mr. Croke. “It will take a relentless effort to confront and overcome today’s obstacles to decent healthcare, housing, education and employment, but our association has the right tools to help lead the charge and I’m honored to be a part of it.”
“Ryan Croke has the background and experience needed to make real progress on issues important to people with disabilities,” said Ann Ford, INCIL’s Founding Executive Director. “He has the vision and leadership skills that can make a significant, positive difference – to continue the important work of maximizing independence for all people.”
In addition to his work at UIS and with INCIL, Mr. Croke was instrumental in prioritizing accessibility, inclusion and integration for people with disabilities during almost a decade of service in state government. As Deputy Chief of Staff (and later Chief of Staff) to Governor Pat Quinn, Mr. Croke was co-chair of the state’s “Employment and Economic Opportunity for People with Disabilities” task force, where he spearheaded efforts to promote community-based, integrated employment as the first option for individuals with all types of disabilities.
He serves on the Boards of Directors for the Springfield Center for Independent Living and the Boys & Girls Club of Central Illinois; volunteers time through the Community Foundation for the Land of Lincoln; and graduated from the FBI Citizens Academy in 2017. In 2012 Mr. Croke was recognized by the Illinois School for the Visually Impaired “for visionary efforts in advocating for individuals who are blind.”
Mr. Croke earned a master’s degree in Communication from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he also did his undergraduate work in Political Science and Communication. He resides in Springfield with his wife Brook and their two young sons, Jonas and Henry.
INCIL is a statewide association of 22 Centers for Independent Living that advocates for the integration and inclusion of people with disabilities in Illinois. The association also promotes the professional development, improvement, and expansion of community-based, consumer-controlled CILs, and promotes community education throughout the state. More information about our mission, history and members is available at www.INCIL.org