Who's Who of Professional Women


Attributing much of her success to hard work and optimism, Liz Ryan began her professional life as a financial analyst at Morgan Stanley following her graduation from Harvard University with a Bachelor of Arts in sociology in 1981. She subsequently switched paths and completed training with the Directors Guild of America with the intent of becoming a producer. Specializing in large film projects, Ms. Ryan now excels as a producer and director with Ryanworks Inc., an entertainment and film production company.

With considerable skill in all aspects of the filmmaking process, from writing to post-production, Ms. Ryan’s day-to-day tasks encompass overseeing market research for productions, communications and program management, budgets and finances, and scheduling, casting and crew. Over the course of her career, she has made important contributions to more than 70 film and television productions in the United States and globally. Some of her most notable credits include “The Green Mile,” “Alien 3,” “Brokedown Palace,” “Waiting for Guffman,” and “NYPD Blue.” Looking toward the future, Ms. Ryan hopes to continue working on large movie projects while bringing a new focus to women and minority hiring.

Ms. Ryan is particularly proud of her work on the hit television show, “The Office.” In addition to her work as the assistant director for the pilot episode, she helped to design the unique format that the show followed. She proposed to the production team that every actor who came in, regardless of whether or not they were scripted, should be put through makeup, hair and clothing, and sit at their desk. Actors who weren’t scripted to do anything were then allowed to do as they pleased, and it ended up becoming an important component of the show’s formula. For excellence in her career, Ms. Ryan was awarded the Frank Capra Award from the Directors Guild of America in 2008.

Alongside her primary responsibilities, Ms. Ryan has held a number of roles with the Directors Guild of America, including 10 years as a member of the national board and a board member for the guild’s pension and health plans and 20 years as a board member for the assistant directors training program. She also holds membership with the Producers Guild of America, SAG-AFTRA, the Alliance of Women Directors and Women In Media. Active in her community as well, she serves as the treasurer for the board of directors of Friends of the Levitt Pavilion MacArthur Park and has volunteer with the Forever Friends Foundation and Peace4Kids.


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