Ryan Catalani

Strengthening and connecting vulnerable communities through relationships and storytelling

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 precepts 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.

Since 2017, I've been learning 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. Now, as Family Promise® of Northern New Castle County's Director of Donor Relations, my work is dedicated to ensuring the success and longevity of this nonprofit's urgently needed programs. Family Promise® is the only organization in Delaware that keeps families together when they experience homelessness, and is the most effective in preventing and ending homelessness.

Integrated approach

Forging 21st-century strategies for sharing art and stories

  • Nonprofit Leadership

    Building relationships, overseeing teams, and managing complex logistics

  • Fundraising and Planning

    Entrepreneurship, grant-writing, and business development experience

  • Multimedia Expertise

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

  • Bilingual Communications

    Writing and editing in English and Spanish

  • Custom Programming

    Websites, apps, services, and bots in Ruby, Javascript, HTML, CSS

Stories that move

Cross-border art exhibits, documentary screenings, and more


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


What people are saying

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 at Emerson and beyond.
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