Ray Ward, Managing Director

The Nineteenth Century Charitable Association is happy to announce that Ray Ward has joined the organization as Managing Director. The Managing Director has an important role working with an active board and supporting their initiatives as well as supervising its employees and assuring maintenance and rental of the historic building near Downtown Oak Park.

Ray has lived various places but considers the Chicago area home. He spent many years in administration in the fitness world, and said "I was delighted to see an opportunity to return to my original interest, which is the arts." Ray has a background in film making, and was impressed with the many cultural offerings of the organization. He said "What struck me the most is how welcoming and nice everyone is." The members who interviewed him spoke highly of his flexibility, humor and ability to handle whatever needs to be done.

 John "Woody" Linton, Sales Manager & Executive Chef

John “Woody” Linton started cooking at the age of 14 in his hometown of Kenosha, WI. Upon graduation, he sought out Hyde Park to attend the Culinary Institute of America. His first landing was in Scottsdale, AZ, working at the award-winning restaurant Vu with Chef William Bradley. Following this milestone, John helped open The Alto Ristorante at the Hyatt Regency, Scottsdale. John has also worked at Lake Park Bistro in Milwaukee, the Bohemian Grove in Northern California, and seasonally at the Talon Lodge in Sitka, AK, as their Executive Chef.

Most recently he was the Executive chef of Hearth restaurant in Evanston (where he remains as a consultant). He helps out Venge Vineyards in Calistoga, CA, and is the Executive Chef for Oak Park Banquets at the Nineteenth Century.

Ryan McClory, Event Manager 

Ryan McClory brings over 20 years of food and beverage experience and knowledge to the Nneteenth Century.  Ryan’s background in the industry include fine dining restaurant management, boutique hotel banquet captain, and private event and catering management. 

Ryan’s commitment and desire to provide the ultimate guest experience is marked through his attention to detail, excellent interpersonal skills, spectacular customer service, and his overall caring and genuine attitude. 

Ryan resides in the Oak Park area with his husband and two dogs. He’s a die hard Cubs fan and enjoys gardening in his yard and golfing in his free time.


Renee Drew, Administrative Assistant 

Renee grew up in Waukegan and received her Bachelor of Music in Music Therapy from the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh.  She worked as a music therapist at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music in Milwaukee and the Institute for Therapy Through the Arts in Chicago before moving to New York City to attend the American Musical and Dramatic Academy. There, she received a Certificate of Performance in Musical Theatre.  Renee did a variety of off/ off-off Broadway shows and workshops in New York, as well as two national children's theatre tours, and co-founded the first ever New York Children's Theatre Festival. She also taught a variety of early childhood classes in music and theatre as well as adaptive voice and piano lessons. 

Renee then moved to Austin, TX where she continued acting and teaching early childhood music classes and theatre classes.  She also started working as a standardized patient at the new Dell Medical School at the University of Texas. Most recently she was promoted to the trainer position of the standardized patient program and continues to provide training to the patients at UT virtually. Renee is thrilled to be back home in the Chicagoland area and is excited to be living in Oak Park. She can't wait to learn more about the history of Oak Park and is so happy to be a part of the team at the Nineteenth Century Charitable Association.