Ryan Messer was born and raised on a farm in Rising Sun, Indiana where his family grew tobacco, hay, cattle (and any other animal Ryan decided the family needed). His parents were active in local politics – his father served as Democratic Party chair and his mother was elected township trustee. They were also very involved in community organizations such as the Parent Teacher Organization, Lion’s Club, 4-H and the Homemakers Club. With his parents as role models, Ryan and his three brothers learned the importance of getting involved in the community at a very early age. A highlight of his childhood was the opportunity to serve as a page for his Congressman, Lee Hamilton.
A Product of Public Schools
Ryan attended Rising Sun public schools before attending Purdue University. A first-generation college student without considerable means, Ryan worked three jobs starting his freshman year to make ends meet. He also quickly leveraged his college experience to further expand his skills by serving in leadership roles on campus in organizations such as the Interfraternity Council, Purdue Musical Organizations, Big Brothers & Big Sisters, and Old Masters. In his senior year, he received the coveted Purdue McGaughey Leadership Award and was named Greek Man of the Year.
Following college, Ryan was selected from the graduating seniors in Indiana to receive the Indiana Governor’s Fellowship, which allowed him to spend a year working for then-Governor Even Bayh at the State Capitol in Indianapolis. This experience whetted his appetite for public service, seeing the impact that the Governor and others in leadership roles could have on the lives of those like his family back home.
A Proven Business Leader
Always open to opportunities, Ryan took the call from a headhunter that would change the course of his life. The recruiter was filling a sales position with Johnson & Johnson. Within two weeks, Ryan began his career in business. Over the past 20 years, Ryan has been promoted to leadership positions of increasing responsibility in sales, marketing, and professional education. He is widely known at J&J for leading diverse, high-performing teams. Throughout his career, he has had access to some of the best training available in the business world in areas such as financial management, strategic planning and organizational development – the kind of training that can help strengthen the seven-member Cincinnati School Board.
In 2011, Ryan co-founded a local property development company that has made investments both in the city of Cincinnati and in Indiana, where he grew up.
An Engaged Cincinnatian
Since moving to Cincinnati in 2001 with the added benefit of being close to his family, Ryan has been a community leader, volunteer, and grass-roots organizer. Always one to challenge the norm, he chose Westwood as his home when he moved to Cincinnati, a place that will always hold a special place in his heart. He then spent five years each in downtown and Over-the-Rhine before settling into North Avondale last year.
A passionate neighborhood champion, Ryan served two terms on the Over-the-Rhine Community Council where he was President. He also co-founded Future Leaders OTR, a neighborhood-based youth program that works to teach life skills, leadership and financial acumen.
A tenacious champion of the Cincinnati region, he is a graduate of the Leadership Cincinnati and the C-Change programs through the Chamber of Commerce. He helped to establish the Cincinnati chapter of the Human Rights Campaign and served as Federal Club chair for five years.
Ryan is a board member of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center and the Cincinnati Opera. He served on the STOP AIDS Board for 10 years and now serves on the Caracole Board of Directors.
He was the founder and served as Board President of Believe in Cincinnati, the grassroots organization founded in 2013 that united and mobilized thousands of city residents.
Ryan received the Cincinnati Community Catalyst award in 2016 at the Cincinnati Neighborhood Summit for his tireless efforts in his neighborhood and beyond. He also received the Lighthouse Youth Services Beacon of Light Award and the Johnson & Johnson Community Impact Award for his work with Future Leaders OTR.
Ryan is married to husband Jimmy and they have three children: Anderson, Olivier and Lilian, current and future public school students.
As your next Cincinnati Public School Board Member, Ryan Messer will represent all parents and children across the District to ensure every child has the opportunity to achieve her or his potential.