You Can Play

LGBTQ athletes. Allies. Teaming up for respect.

You Can Play names Ryan Pettengill as its executive director

Non-profit executive and Ironman athlete Ryan Pettengill has been named the executive director of You Can Play, the group’s board has announced.

Ryan joins You Can Play with more than 20 years of experience in athletics and health promotion, and he has worked extensively with athletes of all levels, specifically focused on improving sports culture and leveling the playing field for equal access to health, recreation, and sports programming.

“We deeply respect Ryan’s passion for improving the lives of others,” You Can Play co-founder Brian Kitts said. “That passion, along with his work in program development and non-profit management, will make Ryan an ideal leader in working for You Can Play’s mission of LGBTQ equality in sports.”

Ryan has served as the director of a national project to encourage philanthropy among amateur, professional, Olympic, and college level athletes. He also served as Executive Director of Athletes United for Social Justice (The Grassroot Project), an organization focused on solving health disparities and reducing stigma through dialogue between athletes and young people, creating a safe space for youth to learn about sex and sexuality. Ryan also helped draft the District of Columbia Department of Health’s three year Youth Sexual Health Plan; and he served on a federal campaign aimed at improving health care enrollment in underserved communities. Through his work with the State Board of Education and DC Public Schools, Ryan helped expand DCPS’ K-12 Health Standards and curriculum to more effectively address risk behavior, stigma, and knowledge around sexuality and sexual health.

"I’m proud to join You Can Play,” Ryan said. “I’m excited to work with our Board, staff, and other partners to continue building for a bright future and to continue the fight to level the playing field for all athletes”.

Ryan’s other experiences include time as a high school athletic director, general manager of a chain of health and recreation facilities, and COO for one of the largest endurance sports teams in the country. He has a master's degree in physical education with a concentration in sport management from Florida State University and a Sport Philanthropy Executive Certificate from George Washington University. He proudly served on the Board of Directors for Girls on the Run. Ryan is a certified coach, former college swimmer, three-time Ironman finisher, and avid ultra-marathon runner who lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma, with his wife, Elizabeth, and two kids, Gavin and Emily.