Photo of Caitlin Ryan

Caitlin Ryan


Caitlin Ryan is the Director of the Family Acceptance Project®. Dr. Ryan is a clinical social worker who has worked on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) health and mental health for nearly 40 years. She received her clinical training with children and adolescents at Smith College School for Social Work. Dr. Ryan pioneered community-based acquired immune deficiency syndrome (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 human immunodeficiency virus (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.

Photo of Rafael Dìaz

Rafael Dìaz


Rafael Dìaz provides consultation for The Family Acceptance Project® (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 human immunodeficiency virus (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.

Noora Larson

Program Assistant

Noora Larson is a program assistant for the Family Acceptance Project, where she provides overall coordination, research assistance and program support. Noora has been involved with international and cross-cultural education throughout her life while her family lived and worked in international education in Bulgaria, China and Trinidad. Noora graduated from San Francisco State University with a degree in international relations and a focus on environmental studies. Areas of personal commitment include social justice, sustainable development, culture and the arts.