Ryan grew up in a middle class neighborhood in Elgin, attending public schools in District U-46 and graduating from Elgin High School in 2004. He earned a Bachelor of Science in journalism from Northwestern University with a minor in political science, paying for his education with a combination of scholarships, loans, and campus jobs. He earned numerous accolades during his time at Northwestern, including a College Emmy for Best Newscast as the Director of SportsNight. After graduating in 2008, he joined the Online Organizing team for Barack Obama’s presidential campaign at its Chicago headquarters. He will never forget the elation he felt being in Grant Park on election night.
When the campaign ended, Ryan took a job in the multimedia department at the Northwest Herald in Crystal Lake. He worked there for nearly a year before being accepted into the White House internship program. During his time on the Legislative Affairs team at the White House Council on Environmental Quality, he worked to pass the Kerry-Boxer climate change bill and participated in briefings on Capitol Hill.
For most of the next three years, Ryan worked at Crain’s Chicago Business, before returning to school in 2013. Ryan earned his Master of Public Policy degree from the University of Chicago, where he was the only member of his class to graduate with Honors and complete a certificate program. His Honor’s thesis delved deep into the issue of gerrymandering. To reduce his loan burden, Ryan worked four part-time campus jobs during his graduate program, including one as the primary researcher on a Department of Energy-sponsored analysis of the alternative-fuel vehicle market with Toyota and Argonne National Laboratory. He continued his research after graduating, until the project’s conclusion in 2016.
Ryan moved to Palatine after graduate school, and now commutes to Chicago every day on the Metra. He works as a data analyst for a healthcare communications startup that encourages people to take better advantage of their health benefits.
Ryan is proud of what he’s accomplished in his brief career, but like so many millennials, he feels he has been held back. His successes have been interspersed with long periods of unemployment, and he owes more than $100,000 in student loans. He pays almost as much towards his loans each month as he does towards his rent, and on his current trajectory he won’t pay them all off until 2045. Ryan has seen so many of his friends and colleagues struggle with the same economic insecurity, putting off weddings, home ownership, and starting a family until somehow their financial situation improves. Ryan believes passionately in the need to fix our student loan system and create new economic opportunities for millennials.
In his free time, Ryan plays baseball in a suburban men’s league, dominates bar trivia, and leads a continuing-education group that discusses current events.
Paid for and Authorized by Ryan Huffman for Congress