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Ryan Woods

Executive Vice President & COO

An educator and historian, Ryan Woods is Executive Vice President & COO of American Ancestors. Since 2006, he has led the development of award-winning experiences for exploring family history, heritage, & culture.

Ryan Woods


Ryan J. Woods has served in executive management positions at American Ancestors for more than fifteen years. He is the Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of our organization as well as Clerk of the Corporation. In his roles, he provides executive oversight for the day-to-day operations for our 100 staff members and all  activity areas including content and collection development, web services, publishing activities, research services, educational programming, financial operations, facilities management, marketing strategies, and business planning.

He has played a key role in developing services and experiences to meet twenty-first-century research and information access requirements. He was the lead creator of, our award-winning website and the most-used genealogical society website in the world. He has fostered and managed important collaborations with commercial and nonprofit partners, including overseeing the recruitment of more than 1 billion searchable records to, and he was a lead staff member in the collaborative effort to establish our Jewish Heritage Center. Currently, Ryan is focused on helping to launch 10 Million Names.

A dedicated researcher, Ryan has authored pedagogical articles about the use of historical biographies to teach character and ethics. He has also contributed genealogical articles and several book forewords for historical and genealogical publications; he regularly presents at national historical and genealogical conferences and events.

Prior to joining American Ancestors, he held several key positions at other cultural and historical institutions, including most notably the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). During his tenure with NARA, Ryan's work was recognized by the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives and members of the United States Senate. He also received the Archivist of the United States' Award for Outstanding Public Service.

Ryan serves in leadership roles for a variety of nonprofit historical, genealogical, and educational organizations. He is an appointed commissioner of the Special Commission for the 250th Anniversary of the American Revolution in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, as an Honorary Life Fellow of the Massachusetts Historical Society, an advisory board member for the 250th Anniversary of the Boston Tea Party,

He holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from Boston University.