When Michelle Ryan left her job as an analyst for the RTA in 2008 to start her own consulting firm, she also decided to get more involved in her hometown of Brookfield. After volunteering for the Brookfield Farmers Market, she became involved in the Brookfield Chamber of Commerce and was appointed to the Brookfield Beautification Committee.
On May 28, Ryan got a bit more involved when she was appointed village trustee to complete an unexpired two-year term created when Kit Ketchmark was elected president in April.
“Michelle stood out with her background as a planner and her community experience,” said Ketchmark. “She’s also familiar with the people here [at village hall], which helps tremendously.”
Ryan, a 17-year resident of Brookfield, has a background in transportation planning for both private corporations and governmental agencies. She spent a year as a planner for the Chicago Area Transportation Study, which merged with another group to form the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) and spent five years as transportation program director and planning liaison for the DuPage Mayors and Managers Conference.
From 2002-08, Ryan was an analyst for the RTA before forming her own consulting firm, MD Ryan Consulting LLC. She specializes in transportation planning and facilitation with clients, including transportation agencies and government agencies.
“I’ve seen how different communities do things from all levels of government,” said Ryan. “Hopefully, I can add value in that way.”
She has a bachelor’s degree in political science from Carleton College in Northfield, Minn., and received a master’s degree in urban and regional planning from the University of Iowa.
In addition to the farmers market and Chamber of Commerce, Ryan was involved in the Riverside-Brookfield High School Traffic and Parking Review Committee, whose work led to the left-turn signals on Ridgewood Road and Forest Avenue at First Avenue.
She has also been involved in a group led by Riverside resident Randy Brockway, which is seeking improvements to that intersection to boost pedestrian and bicycle safety. Ryan has also been involved in Project NICE, a village-wide community cleanup effort held twice a year in Brookfield.
Ketchmark believes Ryan’s planning background will be valuable as the village moves forward with economic development strategies. On May 28 Ketchmark named Ryan to the village board’s economic development committee, along with himself and Trustee Michael Garvey.
“She’s familiar with these things from projects she’s worked on,” said Ketchmark. “It’s a different perspective than the rest of the board members. We haven’t had that angle on the board.”
Ryan said her interest in village government extends beyond planning. She was also named the village board’s liaison to the Special Events Committee. Since being named trustee, she has resigned from the Beautification Committee, where she served as chairwoman.
“I’m not somebody who has one interest,” said Ryan, “because, to me, it’s all integrated.”