Melissa Ryan
thought leader at the intersection
of politics and technology
About Speaking Writing Press Projects Blog

About Melissa

Melissa Ryan's work lives at the intersection of politics, media, and technology. For more than a decade she has been a staple in the progressive movement, helping progressives build and grow online communities. Ryan is currently visiting fellow at Media Matters for America, where she works alongside the researchers and writers studying the intersection of disinformation and technology, sharing her own expertise and identifying opportunities for content that benefits the public.

Following unprecedented foreign interference in the 2016 election, Ryan launched Ctrl Alt-Right Delete making her one of the first progressives to chronicle the rise of the alt-right. Since then, she has partnered on the newsletter with Hope not hate, a UK organization fighting racism and fascism for a generation, which has brought their expert research and campaigning work to the USA. Her newsletter has grown to more than 14,000 weekly readers -- and led Ryan to launch Factual Democracy Project, an organization pioneering a multi-disciplinary response to the extreme right coalition and the weaponization of the Internet.

As a consultant and digital campaigner Ryan has worked on more than 20 federal, state and local campaigns, leading teams that have built vibrant online communities that have knocked on thousands of doors, made tens of thousands of phone calls, and contributed millions of dollars to political candidates.

Ryan was instrumental in the #WIunion protests in 2010, helping organizers turn the occupation of Wisconsin’s State Capitol Building (to protest Scott Walker’s legislation that stripped public workers of their right to collective bargaining) into an international news story. She amplified voices of local Wisconsin bloggers and influencers at the protests and helped their work find an global audience, helping their stories be heard by millions.

As digital director at the New Organizing Institute, Ryan helped train over 500 digital strategists, helping build what The New York Times Magazine’s Robert Draper called “the yawning digital divide between the two parties.” She later signed on as digital director of EMILY’s List, which helps elect pro-choice women leaders into office. During her tenure there her team added 1 million new members to the PAC’s online reach, an increase of more than 50 percent. Ryan also worked on Barack Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign on the digital team where she managed outreach to progressive media and other influential people.

Ryan was honored in 2014 with a Campaigns & Elections Rising Star award and was twice named by the Washington Post as a top tweeter for Wisconsin politics. She’s spoken on digital strategy at Netroots Nation, Harvard Kennedy School of Government, and Wellstone’s School of Campaign Management, among others. She’s often called on by both journalists and conference organizers to help everyday Americans understand how our current events are shaped by social media and how political campaigns use digital strategy to engage voters.

Ryan launched her career by writing about local and state politics for Connecticut Local Politics, then Connecticut’s most popular political blog. Her commentary about the 2006 Senate race --where Ned Lamont successfully challenged Joe Lieberman for his party’s nomination -- brought her into national political prominence. In 2008 Ryan moved to Wisconsin where she served as Senator Russ Feingold’s new media director. She led a team that raised more than $5 million over the cycle -- including the “CheddarBomb,” a coordinated fundraising campaign that raised nearly $500,000 for Feingold in a 24-hour period.

Ryan currently lives in Washington, DC. Visit her website at or follow her on Twitter @MelissaRyan.


Culture and its Discontents: A Public Conversation

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY, April 6-7

Fake News: 2016 was a cakewalk. Here’s what’s coming in ‘18 and ’20, and how you can prepare your clients

Reed Awards, Charleston South Carolina, February 27, 2018

Fake News, Social Media, and Polling

2018 UAW National CAP Conference, Washington DC, February 6, 2018

American Constitution Society National Lawyer Convening

Milwaukee Wisconsin, October 21, 2017

How to Fight the Alt-Right

Democratic Women of Westport, September 17, 2017

Combating Fake News Online

Netroots Nation, August 12, 2017, Atlanta Georgia

We Can Solve The Fake News Problem

Daily News Innovation Lab, February 8, 2017

Keynote: From Kissing Babies to Liking Posts: How Social Media has Changed the American Campaign

Technology and Civic Engagement 2016, Pepperdine School of Public Policy, October 14, 2016

Communications MythBusters: Best Practices vs. Bad Advice

Non Profit Technology Conference, March 25, 2016

Getting it Right in 2015

2015 Reed Awards, February 18, 2016

What Crowdfunding Can Do for Your Campaign or Organization

Art of Political Campaigning, July 18, 2015

How to Write a Fundraising Email

CampaignTech East, April 22, 2015

Running Digital Campaigns: What's Changed and What's Still Working?

Netroots Nation, July 19, 2014

The Organizing Edge: Online Predictions for the 2016 Elections

Netroots Nation, July 19, 2014

Screwing with People Fast: Rapid Response Videos in Campaigns

Netroots Nation, June 22, 2013

Social Media and Labor Activism

AFGE Editors Association Conference, February 17, 2012 VIDEO

Organizing the Occupation

New Organizing Institute at University of Wisconsin May 12, 2011




Factual Democracy Project

Factual Democracy Project is pioneering a multi-disciplinary response to the extreme right coalition and the weaponization of the Internet. We all need a basic working knowledge of disinformation, how hate groups organize online, and influence operations. Factual Democracy Project is that resource for you, and anyone committed to these same goals.

Ctrl Alt-Right Delete

My weekly newsletter devoted to understanding all things radicalization and weaponization online, published in partnership with HOPE Not Hate USA. What started out as analysis for a couple hundred colleagues has grown to more than 14,000 subscribers. New editions come out every Sunday evening.

EMILY's List: One Million New Members

I directed the Digital Department at EMILY's List running an aggressive digital acquisition and fundraising program. In 2013 the EMILY's List community hit 3 million members - a growth of 1 million in just under a year's time.


In 2010 I created and oversaw this moneybomb online fundraising campaign For Senator Russ Feingold. We raised nearly $500,00 from more than 10,000 contributors for the Feingold campaign in one 24 hour period. Wisconsin politicians have continued to use the Cheddarbomb branding for their own campaigns every election cycle since.

Obama 2012

I handled progressive media outreach with bloggers and influencers in the final months of the campaign. Here are some stories I'm particularly proud of.


In 2011 I directed online outreach strategy for the fight against Governor Scott Walker’s union-busting budget bill in Wisconsin. I worked alongside communications and digital staff from several different national and Wisconsin labor and progressive organizations. I reached out to bloggers and online activists on behalf of labor, and curated grassroots content for activists, journalists, and supporters. Additionally I communicated what was happening on the ground in Madison to a worldwide audience through my personal Twitter account. My tweets and photos were used in press coverage of the protests worldwide.