The Family Acceptance Project team includes Project Director, Caitlin Ryan, Senior Quantitative Researcher, Rafael Dìaz and National Project Director, Marian Edmonds Allen.

Undergraduate and graduate students work on the project as interns and volunteers, completing independent studies, theses and culminating experiences. Students work as an integral part of the project team and receive training in grants management and project coordination, outreach and community collaboration, qualitative and quantitative research methods and analysis, and develop interviewing, outreach, research administration and writing skills.

Caitlin Ryan

Caitlin RyanCaitlin Ryan is the Director of the Family Acceptance Project. Dr. Ryan is a clinical social worker who has worked on LGBT health and mental health for 40 years. She received her clinical training with children and adolescents at Smith College School for Social Work. Dr. Ryan pioneered community-based AIDS services at the beginning of the epidemic; initiated the first major study to identify lesbian health needs in the early 1980s; and has worked to implement quality care for LGBT youth since the early 1990s. She started the Family Acceptance Project with Dr. Rafael Diaz in 2002 to help diverse families to decrease rejection and prevent related health risks for their LGBT children - including suicide, homelessness and HIV - and to promote family acceptance and positive outcomes including permanency.

Dr. Ryan and her team have been developing a wide range of research-based materials and assessment tools to help families and caregivers to support their LGBT children, including a series of short documentary films that show the journey from struggle to support of ethnically and religiously diverse families with LGBT children. Her work has been acknowledged by many groups, including the American Psychiatric Association, the National Association of Social Workers, the American Psychological Association, Division 44 that gave her the Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award for groundbreaking research on LGBT youth and families, and many other groups. She has served on many national advisory groups including the Committee on LGBT Health for the Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences and the LGBT Suicide Prevention Task Force of the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention. Dr. Ryan is collaborating with institutions, agencies, faith communities and advocates to develop an international movement of family acceptance to promote wellness and healthy futures for LGBT children, youth and young adults.

Rafael Dìaz

Rafael DiazRafael Dìaz provides consultation for FAP on analysis and research methods. Dr. Diaz is a clinical social worker, a developmental and a clinical psychologist with post-doctoral training at The Center for AIDS Prevention Studies (CAPS), at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF). He was a faculty member at the University of New Mexico, Stanford University, and UCSF's CAPS program where he began his work on Latino gay men and HIV. Dr. Diaz was a Professor of Ethnic Studies at San Francisco State University (SFSU) and is the former Director of the César E. Chávez Institute at SFSU. His research includes major studies on Latino gay men, sexuality, substance use and mental health, including two 4-year studies "A Sociocultural Model of HIV Risk in Latino Gay Men," using qualitative, quantitative and intervention design methods in Los Angeles, Miami and New York, and "Drug Use and Risky Sexual Behavior in Latino Gay Men" and a 5-year study of community involvement as a protective factor for HIV infection among Latino gay men.

Dr. Diaz initiated the Family Acceptance Project with Caitlin Ryan in 2002 to undertake the first study of how family reactions affect the health, mental health and well-being of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth. He has written extensively on bilingualism, self-regulation, Latino gay men, sexuality and culture. His book, Latino Gay Men and HIV: Culture, Sexuality, & Risk Behavior, has become the guiding framework for developing HIV prevention interventions with gay men of color.

Marian Edmonds Allen

Marian Edmonds AllenMarian Edmonds Allen is the National Project Director for the Family Acceptance Project and formerly the Executive Director of OUTreach Resource Centers in Utah, where she used Family Acceptance Project’s family interventions and education with hundreds of LGBT youth and families. During her years in Utah, Rev. Edmonds Allen focused on LGBT youth suicide and homelessness prevention. She developed community collaborations across cultures and religions and founded the Safe and Sound Host Home Project, a unique program that connects host families with newly homeless LGBT youth from the same religious backgrounds. In 2013, Marian was named the Utah Person of the Year by Q Salt Lake for her visionary leadership in expanding services for LGBT youth.

Rev. Edmonds Allen studied theology at Western Theological Seminary and Eden Theological Seminary. She holds a Master of Divinity degree and is an ordained Deacon, Elder, and Minister in Christ's Church as well as a commissioned Chaplain and Church Planter. She specializes at the intersection of faith and LGBT identity, maintaining family relationships within religious contexts, and has worked in pastoral ministry in several states and as a chaplain across many disciplines, including LGBT family care, youth and adult homelessness, end of life, and psychiatric care.


Student Interns and Volunteers

During the academic year and summer session, student interns and community volunteers have worked on the project in a wide range of capacities. Internships are generally planned in advance through academic and community programs, but interested students can contact the Project Director at to learn about internship and volunteer opportunities.


Intervention Collaboration


Lynn Dolce, MFT


Stephen Russell

Professor & Fitch Nesbitt Endowed Chair, Family Studies & Human Development
University of Arizona