Carl Ridle, Executive Director of Human Rights for Michigan City, knows firsthand how influential a strong role model can be for the community’s youth, and he strives to lead by example.
For decades, Northwest Indiana has been home for Ridle. Ridle grew up in East Chicago and completed his high school education at East Chicago Washington High School. Ridle drew great inspiration from his educators.
“My primary motivators were my educational teachers,” said Ridle, “starting with my elementary school teachers at the Eugene Field School of East Chicago, Indiana.”
With the support of his educators as his role models, Ridle applied for and received assistance through the Groups Scholarship Program to attend Indiana University. The program offered support for first-generation college students interested in attending Indiana University who were from low-income families or who were physically disabled.
Ridle received a Bachelor of Arts in Forensic Studies while at Indiana University. Ridle accredited the Groups Scholarship Program for much of his success.
“If it had not been for Rozelle Boyd and LaVerta Terry from Indiana University,” said Ridle, referencing the founder and director of the Groups Scholarship Program, “and for them opening an opportunity for first-generation students, I would not be where I am today.”
Throughout his career, Ridle held various positions at the Indiana Department of Correction, the Federal Bureau of Prisons, and the United States Federal Air Marshal Service. Each position gave Ridle important insight into civil rights issues that he uses in his role today.
“My work at the Federal Bureau of Prisons allowed me to see young people who lacked education resources and educational motivation,” said Ridle. “That lack of motivation probably led them down avenues that they would not have otherwise chosen.”
This experience strengthened Ridle’s desire to help the youth of his community, and today, he focuses this experience into his role as Executive Director of Human Rights.
Through his experience as an Air Force Marshal, Ridle had the opportunity to travel all over the world and see people under various forms of governments. This instilled in Ridle a deep appreciation for America’s democracy and an understanding of how to create meaningful change within the democracy.
“This democracy allows individuals to have a say about what is going on,” said Ridle.
As the Executive Director of Human Rights, Ridle utilizes his personal and professional experiences to better Michigan City.
“This role is important because it allows an avenue for an equal playing field,” said Ridle. “A lot of times, people feel that they are ignored or neglected and that they don’t matter. I think it’s important in this position that I show people that they do matter.”
Ridle feels a personal connection with Michigan City and its residents, and he hopes that his work can contribute to the livelihood and prosperity of the community.
“We have an awful lot of potential,” said Ridle. “We are a fast-changing community, and we have lots of resources and opportunities. People on the outside recognize that, and our residents here recognize that.”
Ridle urged the youth of the community to take available opportunities as he did to create a better future for themselves and the community.
“Go to school. Get a skill. Learn a trade,” said Ridle. “You have to lead by example.”