Kelly Ryan


As a Fellow, Kelly Ryan collaborates closely with Heron’s President and Integrated Capitals team to build Heron’s knowledge base and lead exploratory research on emerging areas of interest. She focuses on supporting and positioning philanthropy’s collective efforts to achieve just, equitable communities and economies across the United States. Kelly serves on the U.S. Community Investing IndexTM Advisory Committee and provides technical assistance to organizations and communities using participatory processes to build more just and equitable communities.

For nearly 20 years, Kelly has been a nationally recognized leader in community philanthropy.  In her role as CEO of Incourage, Kelly led a holistic strategy focused on inclusive and sustainable community change in central, rural Wisconsin.  Kelly oversaw Incourage’s transformation from a traditional community foundation to a national model of inclusive economic development and resident resilience. To realize its vision of a community that works well for all people, Incourage helped drive resident-led economic and cultural transition in response to globalization and corporate restructuring of the paper industry in Central Wisconsin. Kelly led the foundation’s efforts to align all forms of capital with its organizational values and mission.  She helped create the Wisconsin Shared Stewardship Equities Index Fund, a place-based product to guide a mission-driven investment portfolio. The first of its kind in the nation, the Fund combines investments in regional businesses, farms, and development organizations with holdings in nationally and globally- traded companies whose operations have significant bearing on the local community. One product of her fellowship will be a case study sharing the story of Incourage’s organizational transformation and impact.

When not traveling in her role as Heron Fellow, Kelly divides her time between Central Wisconsin and northern Michigan. She serves in advisory positions for national organizations including the Aspen Institute’s Rural Development Innovation Group and the National Fund for Workforce Solutions Partners Council.  She has served on the boards, advisory committees and taskforces of numerous national and regional organizations, including the Hitachi Foundation, Chancellors Advisory Council, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, CF Leads and Council on Foundations.