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July 25, 2016 40 Under Forty 2016

Ryan Matthews

Ryan Matthews Ryan Matthews
Ryan Matthews doing charity work at the home of Cindy Owens (back right) and Harriss Weiss (front right) of Winsted, after a few members of The Susie Foundation's board of directors installed a handicap-accessible ramp to help ease Weiss' travels in and out of his home.
Ryan Matthews with his fianceé Liz Slot standing in Jackson Square in front of the St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans.

Age: 28

Company: Nutmeg Big Brothers Big Sisters; The Susie Foundation

Title: Director of Community Programs; Founder and Executive Director

Town where I live: Plainville

Town where I work: Hartford

College: UConn (Bachelor's and M.P.A.)


What do you do and what are your goals in your current job? I serve as director of community programs for Nutmeg Big Brothers Big Sisters, where I direct Connecticut's largest community-based youth mentoring program, and also executive director of The Susie Foundation, where I lead an agency that serves people with ALS.

What are your goals for your community involvement? The goals I set are intimately tied to those I set for my career and life's journey: Work hard at work worth doing, while remaining dedicated to building a strong, vibrant and healthy community.

What's your biggest passion? Serving others. Whether they are local children and families, the terminally ill, my neighbors, my colleagues, or my friends and family, I have always found that I feel most alive, most at peace, and most myself when I am losing myself while serving those I love.

What are your future aspirations? Marrying the love of my life, becoming a dedicated father, raising a caring family and devoting myself to meaningful, challenging and exhilarating work that makes our community a better place to live, work and play.

If you had one wish to brighten Hartford's economic future what would it be? I would wish for greater investment in improving the lives and well-being of our youth. Our city and state are brimming with talented, passionate and brilliant young women and men who tragically yearn to pursue greener economic pastures beyond their circumstances and outside their communities. Retaining this intellectual capital means investing now to provide adequate support structures, as well as innovative growth and development opportunities that connect them with the resources they need to build their lives in our region.

List four reasons why you deserve to be a 40 Under Forty:

  • After serving as one of my mom's primary caregivers for the final 16 months of her life and watching her pass away from Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis in 2011, I founded a nonprofit, The Susie Foundation, that is dedicated to serving others struggling with the same horrific disease.
  • I presently direct the state's largest community-based, youth-mentoring program serving 400 children.
  • I have helped launch the agency's first volunteer affinity group, Bigs Ignite, and have also launched the agency's first, holistic volunteer post-match training initiative, Mentor Academy.
  • Appointed to the Governor's Commission on Youth and Urban Violence.

Time Tested:

What personal possession in your life has withstood the test of time? Charms on a necklace that I wear daily, representing love and faith, which were a gift from my mom that I wear in memory of her.

Twenty years ago, what did you envision as your future profession? Professional baseball player

Who do you consider your mentor? Matt Farley, executive director, Connecticut Campus Compact

See the complete list of Forty Under 40 Winners for 2016! 

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