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. She is the author of the Ctrl Alt Right Delete a weekly newsletter with more than 5,000 readers, and the founder of Factual Democracy Project, an organization pioneering a multi-disciplinary response to the extreme right coalition and the weaponization of the Internet. For more than a decade Ryan's been a staple in the progressive movement, leading digital campaigns to raise money and awareness for left-of center causes.

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. In 2010 she organized a “CheddarBomb,” a coordinated fundraising push that raised nearly $500,000 for Feingold in a 24-hour period. Her team raised more than $5 million over the entire cycle. She also created ‘Fein’Tunes a series of YouTube videos where Senator Feingold recommended music to his supporters, that received positive press from both political and music news sites.

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, Take Back the American Dream, UConn School of Law, and Wellstone’s School of Campaign Management. She’s often called on by conference organizers and the press to be a source on tech in politics.

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


American Constitution Society National Lawyer Covening

Saturday, October 21, 2017, Milwaukee Wisconsin

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. What started out as analysis for a couple hundred colleagues has grown to more than 5,000 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.