Ryan McElveen was elected in 2023 to serve his third term as an at-large member of the Fairfax County School Board from 2024-2027, representing all 1.17 million county residents. He served in the same role previously from January 2012 to December 2019. When he was first elected, he was the youngest elected official in Virginia and the youngest person to ever serve on the School Board.
Ryan has worked with students, educators, and parents to keep the school system a national leader. He has led efforts to improve student life by:
- improving student mental health programs;
- creating fresher, healthier school food;
- expanding LGBTQ nondiscrimination protections – the first such protections in the state of Virginia;
- reforming student discipline policies;
- pushing for improved curriculum internationalization and expanded world language education;
- implementing later high school start times and full-day Mondays;
- pioneering sustainability initiatives like solar on the schools and reducing plastic waste;
- enhancing college and career access;
- championing gun violence prevention – authoring a resolution adopted by boards around the nation;
- prioritizing human trafficking prevention;
- improving school safety and security;
- increasing access to free menstrual products – a program that later was adopted as state law;
- reforming the dress code;
- increasing community accountability and transparency by hiring a system ombudsman and an auditor general;
- supporting name changes for schools named after confederate figures; and
- allowing excused absences for students participating in civic engagement activities – the first effort of its kind in the nation.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, 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 is also a member of the Churchill Road Elementary School PTA and co-troop leader of Girl Scout Troop 50292.
Since 2013, Ryan has worked at The Brookings Institution's John L. Thornton China Center, where he is associate director, serving as senior administrator, convener of the U.S.-China Leaders Forum and other track II dialogues, and a researcher 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, Current History, Lawfare, 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 (7) and Isla (2), in McLean.
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About Fairfax County
Fairfax County is divided into nine magisterial districts, which are used for conducting elections. Magisterial districts are unrelated to school boundaries. As one of three At-Large Members, Ryan was elected to represent the entire county.
Citizen Advisory Committees
The School Board appoints members to numerous citizen advisory committees to increase community input on specific issues. School Board members each appoint a citizen to represent their district. Advisory committees meet throughout the year and submit an annual report to the Board. Learn more about School Board committees, including citizen advisory committees.