Feature Stories Alumni: Ryan Wallace ’06 builds more than a successful career at UMass Dartmouth

on the water
Ryan Wallace '06
Feature Stories Alumni: Ryan Wallace ’06 builds more than a successful career at UMass Dartmouth
Ryan Wallace ’06 builds more than a successful career at UMass Dartmouth

Beyond being the CFO at Vineyard Offshore, Wallace is a husband, father, and friend with a profound connection to his alma mater that only keeps getting stronger.

UMass Dartmouth is widely recognized as the SouthCoast’s hidden gem, renowned for its commitment to excellence in education, innovative research that leads to solutions for our world, and a vibrant, diverse community atmosphere. Back in the early 2000s, it was everything that Ryan Wallace ’06 could have dreamed of in a university: extraordinary academics that inspired him to strive for greatness, and a campus culture rich with opportunities for personal growth and career advancement.

“College is designed to challenge you in ways that you never thought possible,” said Wallace, a former finance major. “When you meet challenges you never thought you could overcome, it builds a confidence in you that’s unbeatable.”

While he anticipated professional growth at UMass Dartmouth, this Worcester native never expected to find a second home along the SouthCoast shores. When asked to describe his time at UMass Dartmouth in one word, Wallace joked about texting those same friends from Ring Road that he never lost touch with and knew his answer then. “For me, it has to be community. From playing baseball to being an orientation leader to participating in finance clubs, that level of community and loyalty is something I’ve always carried with me.”

From friendships that aged like fine wine to proposing to his now-wife and fellow UMassD alumna just down the street from campus at Horseneck Beach, Wallace departed UMass Dartmouth with more than just a degree in finance and a bright future in the industry; he left with cherished memories and a connection to his alma mater that would shape his journey far beyond the classroom.

The path to becoming Vineyard Offshore’s CFO

Immediately after graduation, Wallace entered the workforce at State Street Bank in Boston, MA as a portfolio accountant. He found himself at the epicenter of a pivotal moment in tech history when he was handed the reins to manage Google as a client. Working with Google’s CEO, Wallace worked behind the scenes to support Google’s game-changing deal to purchase YouTube, confidently pressing the ‘send’ button to complete the transaction.

Wallace’s profession in finance took an electrifying turn when he learned about the climate crisis from his wife, Melissa, and their friends from UMass Dartmouth, ultimately changing the trajectory of his career. For the next fifteen years, he navigated the financial landscape of the energy industry, including a nearly decade-long stint in an executive position with Great River Hydro, a hydroelectric portfolio company with a significant presence in New Hampshire, Vermont, and Massachusetts.

Never forgetting his personal connection to the SouthCoast, Wallace jumped at the opportunity to support offshore wind development in the region he’d come to know and fiercely love. He is currently the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of Vineyard Offshore, which is building America's first large-scale offshore wind farm 15 miles south of Martha’s Vineyard and 35 miles from the Massachusetts mainland in a joint venture with Avangrid. When complete, the wind farm will generate “enough clean energy to power over 400,000 homes and business while reducing carbon emissions by more than 1.6 million tons per year, which is equivalent to taking 325,000 cars off the road annually.”

“I’m proud to be from Massachusetts and to be in this seat, working with people from around the world on complex issues,” said Wallace, who’s more than happy to make frequent trips to New Bedford, where the company operates out of a construction port and provides various avenues of employment for city and region residents. “When you find something you’re passionate about, it doesn’t seem like working. You could be a person like me that’s supporting offshore wind in a different way, and there are plenty of opportunities to contribute.”

In addition to Vineyard Wind 1, Vineyard Offshore is developing several other projects: the proposed Vineyard Wind 2, located 29 miles south of Nantucket; Excelsior Wind in New York; and a lease area in California, which will be home to “floating” wind turbines. Wallace is responsible for supporting these projects and their respective teams while also collaborating with investors that help support the company’s mission to take control of the climate crisis.

“It’s a decarbonization solution. We’re harnessing the power that’s already there in the wind and getting it to shore in the most ethical and environmentally friendly way,” explained Wallace. “Once we get the farm in place, it will be there for generations to come and will be the backbone of our electric grid. That means a lot to me as a father, that I’m setting my children up for the future and tackling this issue now.”

While Wallace’s career soared to new heights in the offshore wind industry, so did his alma mater’s involvement with the sector. In the mid-2000s, UMass Dartmouth opened the School for Marine Science and Technology (SMAST) in New Bedford, and it has been instrumental in conducting research and providing expertise in various aspects of offshore wind, including environmental impact, marine spatial planning, and technology development.

UMass Dartmouth’s engagement with offshore wind has grown alongside the expansion of projects in the SouthCoast, and Wallace doesn’t think the industry is going anywhere but up any time soon. He said, “Offshore wind is going to be a staple for a long, long time. It’s going to be a significant decarbonization solution for not only states like Massachusetts, New York, and California, but all around the world where offshore wind is crucial in their plans. I think we have a real opportunity to fight climate change and do it in the right, conscientious way.”

Now, with each and every drive he makes to New Bedford, Wallace passes by that green UMass Dartmouth sign on the highway, a reminder of where it all began. Shaped by lasting connections and the pursuit of a sustainable future, he’ll never forget that Ring Road is where he grew into his identities as a CFO, family man, and Corsair for life.