Ryan Merkley Appointed Managing Director of Aspen Digital

November 18, 2021

Following key leadership roles in organizations including Wikimedia Foundation, Creative Commons, and Mozilla, Ryan Merkley joins the Aspen Digital team as Managing Director.


Carner Derron
Marketing & Communications Manager
Aspen Digital

Washington, D.C., November 18, 2021 – Aspen Digital — the Aspen Institute program focused on the intersection of technology, media, and the internet — today announces that Ryan Merkley has been appointed as its Managing Director. Ryan will lead strategy and drive program and team development. The appointment arrives following the successful delivery of the Aspen Institute’s Commission on Information Disorder Final Report. 

The Managing Director position advances Aspen Digital’s strategic goals, improves organizational cohesion and effectiveness, and drives operational excellence and velocity within initiatives and across teams. Ryan will also develop and lead high-impact and high-visibility initiatives across the program’s areas of focus: cybersecurity, the information ecosystem, emerging technology, the industry talent pipeline, tech and communications policy, and innovation.

“Ryan did a spectacular job leading the Commission on Information Disorder on behalf of Aspen Digital,” said Vivian Schiller, Executive Director of Aspen Digital. “He joins us with a wealth of experience in organizational leadership and strategy, and brings substantial subject-matter expertise on issues of technology and society. We’re thrilled that he is joining our team full-time. ”

Since April 2021, Ryan has been serving as Director of the Aspen Institute’s Commission on Information Disorder, which published its final report on November 15. Ryan was previously Chief of Staff at Wikimedia Foundation, the non-profit responsible for supporting Wikipedia projects and communities. There, he led the organization’s 10-year movement strategy as well as its defense against and response to disinformation. Previously, he has held senior executive roles at international non-profits, including Chief Executive Officer of Creative Commons and Chief Operating Officer and Chief Strategy Officer at the Mozilla Foundation. Ryan also has a long history of leadership in policy-making, including roles as Senior Advisor to Toronto Mayor David Miller, where he launched the city’s open data project, and as Director of Communications for the City of Vancouver during the 2010 Winter Olympics. 

In addition to his work with Aspen Digital, Ryan is an affiliate of the Harvard Berkman-Klein Center for Internet and Society and a board member of the nonprofit Voting Works.

“The Aspen Institute has a fantastic reputation for driving important dialogue and action on issues of national and global importance, and I’m excited to help lead that work,” said Ryan. “This is an exceptional team, and I know that the coming years will present enormous challenges where we can help advance the conversation on the role of technology and media in our workplaces, our homes, and our communities.”


Aspen Digital empowers policy-makers, civic organizations, companies, and the public to be responsible stewards of technology and media in the service of an informed, just, and equitable world. A program of the Aspen Institute, we shine a light on urgent global issues across cybersecurity, the information ecosystem, emerging technology, the industry talent pipeline, tech and communications policy, and innovation. We then turn ideas to action and develop human solutions to these digital challenges.

The Aspen Institute is a global nonprofit organization committed to realizing a free, just, and equitable society. Founded in 1949, the Institute drives change through dialogue, leadership, and action to help solve the most important challenges facing the United States and the world. Headquartered in Washington, DC, the Institute has a campus in Aspen, Colorado, and an international network of partners. For more information, visit www.aspeninstitute.org.

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