Ryan served from January 2012 to December 2019 as an at-large member of the Fairfax County School Board, representing all 1.15 million county residents. When he took office, he was the youngest person ever elected to the School Board.
During those eight years, Ryan worked with parents, students, and educators to keep the school system the best in the nation. He fought to attract the best educators to Fairfax County schools, and as the Board's legislative liaison he led the School Board to ensure that Fairfax County received its fair share from Richmond. He led the charge to improve student life by:
After leaving the School Board in 2020, Ryan founded the Global Leaders of Fairfax County program, which prepares county high school seniors to be global citizens and change agents in their community and the world. He also serves as advocacy chair of the Churchill Road Elementary School PTA and co-troop leader of Girl Scout Troop 50292.
Since 2014, Ryan has also served as associate director of The Brookings Institution's John L. Thornton China Center, where he is a senior administrator, 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 Opinions, Current History, Lawfare, China-US Focus, 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, 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.
Raised in the Vienna-Tysons Corner area, Ryan is a graduate of George C. Marshall High School, where he served as class president and graduated with an International Baccalaureate diploma. Ryan holds a B.A. in Anthropology and East Asian Studies from the University of Virginia and a Master’s degree of International Affairs in human rights from Columbia University.
Ryan is an avid runner and can be found running on County park trails early in the morning. Ryan speaks several languages and is fluent in Mandarin Chinese. He lives with his wife, Xuan, and daughters, Sierra (6) and Isla (1), in McLean.