Ryan Johnson comes from a small town in Oklahoma, within a particularly conservative community. As the town's only openly gay man, at least while he was growing up there, Ryan went through struggles that are all too familiar with the LGBTQIAA+ community. Their biggest goal is to utilize their experience with NLC to learn how to help his community, particularly when it comes to advancing equality.
Through mentors and luck, Ryan was able to work his way from a homeless shelter to a successful career path in the wine industry. He successfully passed the Introductory Sommelier Course with the Court of Master Sommeliers, Americas and is studying to sit for the Certified Exam in the fall of 2020. In his professional life, Ryan has developed a passion for the hospitality industry - creating a career focused around wine and people. He currently works in event planning for Aparium Hotel Group, a Chicago-based hotel management company specializing in boutique hotels in underserved markets.