Pat and Shirley Ryan

NET WORTH: $2.6 billion

SOURCE OF WEALTH: Ryan Insurance Co., Ryan Specialty Group

FUNDING AREAS: Education & Youth, Health, Arts & Culture, Chicago Community, Catholic Causes

OVERVIEW: Pat Ryan and his wife Shirley move their philanthropy through the Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Foundation. The couple have given major gifts to Northwestern University and the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, now the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab. 

BACKGROUND: Pat Ryan received a bachelor's degree from Northwestern University. His first brokerage, Ryan Insurance Co., merged with Combined Insurance Co. in 1982 to form AON, one of the largest insurance firms today. Ryan is currently the CEO and founder of Chicago-based Ryan Specialty Group, a wholesale brokerage and specialty insurance firm.


EDUCATION & YOUTH: Ryan has given $100 million to his alma mater Northwestern University and pledged another $100 million, with particular support for the school's athletics and of Ryan Field. The family has steered seven-figure funds to Accelerate Institute, whose mission is to close the "achievement gap by creating high-impact school leaders who accelerate student achievement." The couple set up the Ryan Fellowship and Ryan Awards at the institute. 

The couple has supported Big Shoulders Fund, a "nonprofit organization designed to offer financial support to low-income Catholic schools throughout the city." Other grantees include Art Institute of Chicago, After School Matters, and YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago.

HEALTH: The Ryans are major patrons of what was once known as Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago—now the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab—to which they've given at least $10 million. The forces here are personal as the couple have a son with cerebral palsy. Other grantees include Brain Research Foundation and Pathways, which "provides free tools to maximize all children’s motor, sensory, and communication development."

ARTS & CULTURE: The couple have been particularly supportive of Lyric Opera of Chicago. Other grantees include Chicago Humanities Festival, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, and Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

CHICAGO COMMUNITY: Chicago-area grantees include Chicago Council on Global Affairs, Metropolitan Planning Council, public media channel WTTW11, and 100 Club Chicago, which "provides for the families of first responders who have lost their lives in the line of duty."

CATHOLIC CAUSES: The Ryans have supported Saints Faith Hope & Charity and Sheil Catholic Center. 

LOOKING FORWARD: Expect this billionaire couple's active giving in Chicago to continue, tracking with established interest areas. 


Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Foundation
150 N. Michigan Ave., Ste. 2100
Chicago, IL 60601
Telephone: (312) 893-6600