Born and raised in Bemidji, Minnesota, Ryan grew up in a family that worked hard, cared deeply for one another, and gave back to the community. His father owned a small business that built log homes – often employing Ryan and his siblings to help on projects – and his mother was an x-ray technician.
Like most Northern Minnesotans he enjoyed sports and the great outdoors. He grew up playing hockey for his school team and went hunting every fall with his family. As kids, Ryan and his siblings helped split, stack, and haul wood to heat the house his parents built for the family. Persistence and working together helped Ryan and his family make it through setbacks and come back even stronger afterward.
As Ryan prepared to graduate from Bemidji High School, he earned a spot at Harvard University. It was an amazing opportunity, and Ryan’s family was eager to dive in and do whatever was needed to support Ryan, including having a garage sale to raise the money needed to visit schools. While in college, Ryan played club hockey and was an editor of the Harvard Political Review. His love of Minnesota history and his passion for social justice led him to write his senior thesis on Hubert Humphrey and the Civil Rights movement.
After graduation, Ryan moved back to Minnesota to attend the University of Minnesota Law School in 2001. He founded the Minneapolis-St. Paul chapter of the American Constitution Society which advocates for a more progressive and inclusive legal system. From his start as a lawyer, Ryan fought to make our legal system fairer for every Minnesotan.
In 2006, Ryan ran for and won a seat in the Minnesota House of Representatives, representing Golden Valley, St. Louis Park and Plymouth. During his time in the Legislature, Ryan was a champion for workers’ rights. He worked with labor, the faith community, and non-profits, leading the effort to raise the minimum wage for the first time in eight years. He also led in establishing the 35W bridge victims’ compensation fund. Following the Supreme Court’s disastrous Citizens United decision, he led efforts to disclose the sources of corporate money influencing in our elections.
Ryan has worked for 13 years as counsel for Minnesota technology companies, gaining experience in Minnesota’s emerging economy. He currently lives in Golden Valley with his three hockey-playing sons and their dog, Scout.