Ryan is associate director of The Brookings Institution's John L. Thornton China Center, where he serves as senior administrator, coordinates with the Institution’s office at Tsinghua University in Beijing, manages the U.S.-China Leaders Forum and other track II dialogues, 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 has been published in the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, International Herald Tribune, CNN, Current History, Lawfare, China-US Focus, the Cairo Review of Global Affairs, and the Georgetown Journal of International Affairs.
Ryan’s experience spans the public- and private-sectors, NGOs, and academia. He has worked for the International Operations and Policy office of the Boeing Company, The Clinton Foundation and The Clinton Global Initiative, Columbia University's Weatherhead East Asian Institute, The China Institute, the University of Virginia Center in Shanghai, and the U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations.
Ryan served for eight years as an at-large member of the Fairfax County School Board, where he fought for and implemented curriculum internationalization; LGBTQ protections; sustainability initiatives; healthier school food; student mental health programs; student discipline reform; dress code reform; later high school start times; gun violence prevention; human trafficking prevention; improved college and career access; name changes for schools named after confederate figures; and excused absences for students participating in civic engagement activities.
At the University of Virginia, he authored a strategic plan for internationalizing UVA’s curriculum and chaired committees on improving institutional diversity and minority political mobilization. In 2010, Ryan mobilized a campaign against the efforts of Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli to discredit state university research on climate change. Ryan is the recipient of the University of Virginia's Cultural Fluency Award, the Elizabeth Cady Stanton Award, the Charles S. Robb Young Leaders Award, the Richard Rausch Equality Award, and he was a finalist in the Washington Post’s “America’s Next Great Pundit” contest.
Ryan holds a Master’s of International Affairs in human rights from Columbia University, a B.A. in Anthropology and East Asian Studies from the University of Virginia, and an International Baccalaureate diploma from George C. Marshall High School. Raised in the Vienna/Tysons Corner area of Fairfax County, he lives with his wife, Xuan, and daughters, Sierra and Isla, in McLean. Ryan enjoys running, playing the violin, and learning languages—he speaks Mandarin Chinese (including Sichuan dialect), Spanish, and conversational Korean.