Ryan has served since January 2012 as an At large member of the Fairfax County School Board, representing 1.1 million Fairfax County residents. At age 25, Ryan became the youngest person ever elected to the School Board.
Ryan is assistant director of The Brookings Institution's John L. Thornton China Center, where he serves as its senior administrator, coordinates with the Brookings-Tsinghua Center at Tsinghua University in Beijing, China, and conducts research on Chinese politics and society and U.S. foreign policy. He is a member of the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations, and his writing on foreign affairs has been published in the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, International Herald Tribune, CNN Opinions, Current History, Lawfare, China-US Focus, and the Georgetown Journal of International Affairs.
In addition to his think-tank work, Ryan’s experience spans the public- and private-sectors, NGOs and academia. He has worked for the the International Operations and Policy office of the Boeing Company, Columbia University's Weatherhead East Asian Institute, The Clinton Foundation and The Clinton Global Initiative, The China Institute, the University of Virginia Center in Shanghai, and Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) on the U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations.
Ryan has championed fresh and healthy food for students, curriculum internationalization, and academic freedom. At the University of Virginia, he authored a well-received strategic plan for internationalizing UVA’s curriculum and chaired several committees devoted to improving institutional diversity and minority political mobilization. For these efforts he won UVA’s 2008 Cultural Fluency Award. In 2010, Ryan mobilized a campaign against the Virginia Attorney General's efforts to discredit UVA research on climate change.
Ryan is the author of “Challenging Yellow: Decoding Skin Color in Urban China and the Confluence of Tradition and Globalization,” which won the 2008 Elizabeth Cady Stanton Award for the best essay in the study of women and gender. He was a finalist in the Washington Post’s “America’s Next Great Pundit” contest in 2010, and he was the 2012 recipient of the Charles S. Robb Young Leaders Award.
Born and raised in Fairfax County, Ryan is a graduate of Marshall High School, where he served as Class President and graduated with an International Baccalaureate diploma.
Ryan graduated Phi Beta Kappa from UVA, with a B.A. in Anthropology and East Asian Studies. He holds a Master’s of International Affairs in human rights from Columbia University.
In his spare time, Ryan enjoys playing the violin, running, baking and traveling. He speaks Mandarin Chinese (including Sichuan dialect), Spanish and conversational Korean.