Ray Ward, Managing Director

  Ray Ward, 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 and Events Manager

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.

 Marcell Dukes, Executive Chef, wass born and raised in Dayton, Ohio. “My family would always cook feasts for almost every holiday,” he says. His dad would smoke and cook the meats and his mom would make the sides and salads. “I grew up on a lot of southern, comfort food which tends to be my North Star when cooking,” says Marcell, who attended Sullivan University in Louisville, Kentucky, for culinary school and worked there for years at various hotels and restaurants, until he moved to Chicago in 2017. In his free time, Marcell enjoys listening to podcasts, reading self-help books, weightlifting, playing video games, or watching a good scary movie.  

  Becky GrajedaAdministrative Assistant 

Becky grew up in Claremont, California, a suburb of Los Angeles. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in music and American studies from Kenyon College in Ohio and her Master of Fine Arts degree in sound art from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.  In 2010 she studied in Prague and fell in love with the city. Much of her sound and performance work draws inspiration from Czech writers and visual artists. Her work has been shown or performed throughout Chicago, Los Angeles, in London, Prague, and Paris.  In 2014 she received a grant from Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events to document several of her performance works.

 She has supported her art career with a variety of jobs including in administration at arts and/or educational institutions, as a wedding planner, and as a chaperone for study abroad programs. She is super excited to get know everyone at the Nineteenth Century and put to work her skills from her past experiences.  

   Rosemary Williams - Accountant

Rosemary Williams was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois on the West Side of the city bordering Oak Park, Illinois. She has a bachelor's degree in Accounting from National Louis University and has spent her entire career in the Not for Profit and Federal Government arena. She brings 25+ years of experience with her to Nineteenth Century Charitable Association. Rosemary moved to Oak Park in 2010 and has a daughter who is currently a sophomore at Oak Park River Forest High School.

Ryan McClory, Event Manager 

Ryan McClory brings over 20 years of food and beverage experience and knowledge to the Nineteenth 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.