Ryan Catalani

Fighting for justice through advocacy, storytelling, and community-building

Rooted in community

Growing up in Hawaii, in a family whose forebears immigrated from Japan, from Catalonia, from Indonesia to the Netherlands to Salem, Oregon, instilled in me a certain consciousness about the world. I learned about the power of stories—and the importance of being heard. I learned about the stakes of migration—what it means to leave everything behind for the safety of your loved ones, and the sacrifice and love intrinsic to starting over in a new city or country. And I learned the simple but profound value of learning to live with people who look, act, and think differently than you—convivencia, as identified by the writer Mario Osorio.

From 2011-2017, I channeled those concepts into work that became Mobility Movilidad, a nonprofit dedicated to helping artists, storytellers, and researchers cross borders with their art, stories, and research. I co-founded and co-directed this organization that focuses on collaborating with storytellers who have the least access to cross borders, but the most to teach us about creating a more just, sustainable world.

For example, since 2015, Mobility Movilidad has worked with Manantiales de Paz, a self-settled community just outside Medellín, Colombia, founded by people who were forced by ongoing violence to flee their homes in the countryside. After our first summer working together, I gave the community leaders of Manantiales de Paz this guayacán tree, which represents how I strive to approach all my work: rooted in community, growing with collaboration, and flourishing for years to come.

Between 2017 and 2019, I learned from another kind of displaced community: families experiencing homelessness. Homelessness has long been an important issue to me, as Hawaii has the highest rate of homelessness in the country. As Family Promise® of Northern New Castle County's Director of Donor Relations, my work was dedicated to ensuring the success and longevity of this nonprofit's urgently needed programs. Family Promise® NNCC keeps families together when they experience homelessness, and helps them move back into stable housing faster, more successfully, and more cost-effectively than anywhere else in Delaware.

Currently, as Director of Advancement for Hawaiʻi Children's Action Network, I'm working to change the systems that lead to issues like homelessness. HCAN is Hawaiʻi's only nonprofit dedicated solely to advocating for children, addressing the root causes of poverty and inequity and developing public policies that help children and their families. I'm also honored to serve on the boards of Family Promise® of Hawaiʻi, Pacific Gateway Center, and Young Progressives Demanding Action.

Integrated approach

21st-century strategies to advance social justice

  • Nonprofit Leadership

    Management and financial experience, strategic planning, board service

  • Fundraising and Planning

    Donor relations, grant writing, and entrepreneurial business development

  • Strategic Communications and Marketing

    Public relations, social media, and more (in English and Spanish)

  • Multimedia Expertise

    Photography, video, design, 3D modeling, data visualization

  • Technology and Programming

    Improving internal processes and creating custom websites and apps

A global perspective

Innovative projects that have crossed borders

Projects

Community-based, technology-enabled, bilingual storytelling work: A sampling

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What people are saying

“Ryan shows immense dedication … as a fundraiser who dedicates himself to advocating for the children of Hawaiʻi, and a volunteer who works tirelessly to represent vulnerable populations who are underrepresented.’
— Young Professional Award
Association of Fundraising Professionals

Recognized for creating “communications and fundraising materials [that] embody excellence, quality, creativity, and impact.”
— Fundraising and Communications Excellence Awards
Association of Fundraising Professionals - Brandywine Chapter

“A quiet leader, a thoughtful presence, a creative and artistic force, and a risk taker … he has been a steady advocate for social change speaking truth to power through words, art, and action. Ryan is truly a gifted individual, someone advancing progress in diversity, social justice, and inclusion.”
— Emerson College Inclusive Excellence Award

“Catalani [works] to reframe history through the stories of people who are otherwise overlooked.”
— Emerson College Community Service Report

“Ryan is one of the most amazing and talented people I have ever had the pleasure of working with. There are many people in this world who are smart, talented, and creative, but Ryan separates himself from the pack because he is a ‘doer.’”
— Melanie Feldman, Co-Founder, Bookzingo

Talks & Workshops

Recent conference presentations, bilingual teaching, and more

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