Ryan McDonough

Ryan McDonough joins the board of Openlands as part of Kellogg’s Board Fellows program. He grew up in New Fairfield, CT and graduated from the United States Naval Academy with a bachelor’s degree in political science and a minor in Spanish. He subsequently served eight years as a Navy Bomb Disposal Officer based in San Diego, CA and Virginia Beach, VA. Ryan has deployed multiple times overseas, leading teams of explosive specialists in Afghanistan and throughout the Middle East. In his spare time Ryan enjoys hiking, camping, and rock climbing with his wife Christine and their English Cocker Spaniel—Pippa. His favorite spots are the Sierra National Forest and the Appalachians in western North Carolina. He is currently pursuing an MBA at Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.

I am very interested in the conservation mission of Openlands, particularly nature in an urban area, says Ryan. We are new to the region, so my wife and I love to explore the city and surrounding area by walking or cycling. Part of the reason we love to explore in this manner is because it brings together history, nature, and creates connections with the local environment that gives us a better appreciation of where we are. I grew up in Connecticut, and my time in the Navy took me to the east coast, the west coast, and Florida. Now we will have the opportunity to explore the Midwest and all it has to offer.

Kellogg’s Board Fellows program allows me to take academic learning and apply it in sitting on a board for 18 months. I hope that during my time I can work on a tangible project that has lasting gains for Openlands. Maybe a marketing outreach program, to inform the local community of just how much Openlands has to offer and all of the incredible things it does for the community.

One of the things that drew me to Openlands was the impressive board and staff. I spent time looking at the bios of everybody on the website and really liked how most everyone noted their favorite outdoor activities and places to adventure. It was important to me to be part of an organization where people have similar interests. I’m excited to get involved with Openlands’ mission and connect to the natural environment of the Chicagoland area.


  • B.A. (Political Science, Spanish Minor), United States Naval Academy
  • MBA Candidate, Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University