The Century Foundation (TCF), a leading progressive think tank, announced today the addition of a nationally recognized journalist, author, and chronic illness expert Ryan Prior to its growing Disability Economic Justice Team. A former CNN journalist and author, who has spent the last several years covering the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact, and who brings lived experience of chronic illness as a journalist and advocate who lives with ME/CFS, Prior joins TCF as a nonresident fellow focused on uplifting the impact of Long COVID.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has already become a mass disabling event, and COVID long-haulers represent the largest influx of new entrants to the U.S. disability community in modern history,” said Rebecca Vallas, co-director of the Disability Economic Justice Collaborative and a senior fellow at The Century Foundation. “As TCF’s Disability Economic Justice Team and the Collaborative work toward economic security and justice for all disabled people in the U.S, and as policymakers grapple with the road ahead for millions of COVID long-haulers, perspectives like Ryan’s—which combine deep subject matter expertise with lived experience of disabling chronic illness—will be invaluable to shaping the debate on Long COVID at this critical juncture.”
Prior, who has been a regular contributor to TCF’s disability economic justice work since its launch earlier this year, has spent the past several years reporting and writing on Long COVID, both at CNN and independently. He joins TCF’s Disability Economic Justice Team in tandem with the launch of his first book, The Long Haul: Solving the Puzzle of the Pandemic’s Long Haulers and How They Are Changing Healthcare Forever, released on November 15. The Long Haul spotlights the reality that millions of COVID-19 “long-haulers” live with today as the pandemic continues, and how their fight for recognition as well as research and policy solutions could also improve the landscape for people living with ME/CFS and other similarly overlooked chronic illnesses. As a nonresident fellow at TCF, Prior will serve as a journalist-in-residence with TCF’s Disability Economic Justice Team.
“It’s an absolutely critical time to be reporting and writing about the impacts of Long COVID, and about disability policy more generally,” said Ryan Prior. “I’m thrilled to join TCF and to continue the work I’ve done with The Long Haul, highlighting the voices of the sick, and how together, we can build a more innovative and patient-centered healthcare system for the future.”
In addition to his work on Long COVID, Prior also brings his own personal experiences with disability to TCF’s Disability Economic Justice Team. For fifteen years, he has lived with ME/CFS, or chronic fatigue syndrome, which has no cure. Prior brings this personal experience to his coverage of Long COVID, and disability issues more generally—and The Long Haul uplifts the voices and perspectives of a wide array of people now living with Long COVID.
“The expertise that Ryan brings on Long COVID will only augment the work our team has been doing on this critical issue,” said Kimberly Knackstedt, senior fellow and co-director of TCF’s Disability Economic Justice Collaborative, who prior to joining TCF served as President Biden’s first director of disability policy as part of the Domestic Policy Council. “While many have argued that the pandemic is over, that is far from the truth for the millions of people struggling with Long COVID. Rather than moving on, now is the moment when we as a nation must grapple with what the road ahead looks like for people with Long COVID, and how our public policies must change in response.”
Before joining the TCF team, Prior had previously served as a contributor to TCF’s Voices of Disability Economic Justice Project, as well as to TCF’s Disability Economic Justice Collaborative, launched in April 2022 by The Century Foundation, in partnership with the Ford Foundation. The Collaborative brings together forty leading think tanks, research groups, and disability rights and justice organizations to learn from each other and work in partnership to bring a disability lens across economic policymaking in the United States.
A full bio for Prior is available here.