Melissa Ryan
Writer.  Organizer.  Digital Strategist.

Hi, I’m Melissa Ryan. I help people, policymakers, and institutions combat online toxicity and extremism. (AKA trolls, far-right extremists, disinformation, and fake news.)

I run CARD Strategies, a boutique consulting firm that works with non-profits and advocacy groups. I also write Ctrl Alt-Right Delete, a weekly newsletter, that reaches more than 16,000 readers. I’ve also written commentary for outlets like Buzzfeed News, Refinery29, and NowThis.

Previously I was a digital strategist for Democratic campaigns and progressive causes. I worked with influencers and online communities to raise money, mobilize activists, drive online conversations and shape media narratives. My familiarity with this space gives me a unique insight into how trolls and extremists organize.

Interested in hiring me to consult, train, or speak? Let’s talk!

Want to learn more about me? Read my full bio.


I speak at conferences, universities, progressive groups, and select corporate settings. Recent engagements include The NY Daily News Innovation Lab, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, The American Constitution Society, and Pepperdine University.

I’m also available for trainings. Currently, I have a 45-minute and a 90-minute module on information warfare.

Want to book me for your event? Get in touch.

Recent Engagements

Why Democracy Requires Public Education

SXSW EDU, Austin Texas, March 7, 2023

Solving the Climate Crisis Starts With Combatting Disinformation

Netroots Nation, Pittsburgh PA, August 18, 2022

Congress is an Unstable Workplace

Netroots Nation, October 8, 2021

Disinformation in the 2020 Campaign: Who's Behind It? (It's Not Just Russia)

Netroots Nation, August 15, 2020

Science Journalism in an Age of Disinformation

Environmental Defense Fund Annual Conference, June 2020

Threats to Social Movements: the Rise of Digital Authoritarianism and Oligopolies

RightsCon, July 29, 2020

The U.S. Right and the Rise of Authoritarianism Around the World

Netroots Nation, Philadelphia PA. July 12, 2019

The Future of US Politics: Looking Ahead to 2020

University of Iowa, Public Policy Center, March 27, 2019

Strategy Discussion: Preparing for Opposition Tactics

Counting for Democracy, Census and Redistricting Conference, Washington DC, December 13, 2018

Going Global: Let’s build a transnational coalition to fight online toxicity and extremism

Mozfest, London, UK, October 27, 2018

Crisis Scenario: You're the target of disinformation. Now what?

MisinfoCon London, October 24, 2018

Fighting Back Against Russian Active Measures

Netroots Nation, New Orleans LA, August 4, 2018

How Online Harassment is Ruining Democracy

Netroots Nation, New Orleans LA, August 3, 2018

Fake News Horror Show! Opening Keynote Panel

Fake News Horror Show, NYC Media Lab, June 7, 2018

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

Title of talk

Talk info: conference, date, etc

Media Appearances



About Melissa

As CEO and Chief Strategist at CARD Strategies, Melissa Ryan helps people, policymakers and institutions mitigate online harms and defend pluralistic democracy. Melissa combines deep expertise in disinformation, right-wing extremism and online toxicity, and more than fifteen years of leadership in politics and non-profit advocacy to help clients develop proactive and defensive campaigns against online and offline threats.

Melissa became fascinated with right-wing extremism and disinformation in 2016 when she saw fringe extremist networks platformed by mainstream candidates and then elevated by political media. Throughout the campaign cycle she tracked the growth and strategies of right-wing extremist networks and the spread of disinformation. She was among the first progressives to chronicle the rise of the rising far-right online. Her weekly newsletter, Ctrl Alt-Right Delete, reaches more than 15,000 subscribers.

Because of her unique expertise, Ryan is also sought out by journalists, politicians, leaders and everyday Americans who want to better understand how current events are shaped by social media and how political campaigns and advocacy organizations use digital strategy to engage voters. Ryan has been a featured speaker at top conferences and events including the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, the New York Daily News Innovation Lab, Netroots Nation, and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. She has been quoted in dozens of outlets, including The New York Times, Washington Post, NPR, Reuters, Insider, NBC News and the 19th News.

Ryan’s career has spanned nearly the full history of digital politics. She began as a blogger, writing about local and state politics for Connecticut Local Politics. Her commentary about the 2006 Senate race between Ned Lamont and Joe Lieberman brought her into national political prominence, and where she formed the basis of her understanding of how online communities can affect real-world outcomes.

Ryan has been in the center of major progressive fights ever since. Her pioneering online fundraising work raised more than $5 million online for Senator Russ Feingold’s 2010 campaign. She played a key role in mobilizing protestors and framing the story of the #WIunion protests of 2011, helping create an international story about Scott Walker’s anti-union power grab.

As digital director at the New Organizing Institute, Ryan managed and drove the training program that created what The New York Times Magazine’s Robert Draper called “the yawning digital divide between the two parties.” During her tenure as digital director of EMILY’s List, Ryan’s team added more than 1 million supporters to the PAC’s online outreach. In 2012, she managed outreach to progressive media and influencers for Barack Obama’s re-election campaign. Ryan is proud to serve as a board member for Netroots Nation, the progressive movement’s largest annual conference.

Visit Melissa’s website at or follow her on Twitter @MelissaRyan.