Ryan Kelsey photo
Ryan Kelsey
Director, Building America's Workforce
Income and Benefits Policy Center
  • Profile
  • Outside Affiliations
  • Ryan Kelsey is the Urban Institute’s inaugural director for Building America’s Workforce, where he helps shape Urban’s workforce research agenda, leveraging the Institute’s expertise in workforce development, postsecondary education, training, apprenticeships, work supports, job quality, and much more. Kelsey has more than twenty years of experience weaving together innovations in education, philanthropy, and workforce programs to foster a more equitable world.

    Before Urban, Kelsey served as the Markle Foundation’s executive director for partnership development, where he led the formation of strategic partnerships with leading philanthropies and nonprofits as well as internal strategic planning and Markle’s learning and evaluation agenda. He was previously the chief strategy and innovation officer at Achieving the Dream, a national nonprofit that supports a network for reformed-minded community colleges; and program officer at the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, where he developed and managed a $45 million portfolio of grants focused on US higher education, STEM learning, K–12 teacher preparation, and educational technology.

    Earlier in his career, Kelsey spent more than a decade at Columbia University, where he was one of the leaders of a center focused on innovation in teaching and learning using purposeful technology. He taught graduate courses in educational technology and instructional design at Teachers College, Columbia University, and at New York University as well as introductory undergraduate science at Columbia.

    Kelsey earned his BS in biology from Santa Clara University and his MA and EdD in communication and education from Teachers College, Columbia University.

    Research Areas
    Artificial intelligence

    Outside Affiliations
    Chappaqua Central School District
    Board Member

    Urban experts are permitted and empowered to work and affiliate with outside organizations, whether serving on boards, volunteering their time, or providing advice and counsel. And Urban welcomes visiting scholars, nonresident or affiliated fellows who work for other organizations. These outside affiliations enrich our perspectives and our learning environment. We also require all paid and unpaid experts to disclose their affiliations to Urban leadership and follow rules governing their engagement to ensure transparency for audiences and independence of experts.