Our Team

We were birthed from the ashes of the 2020 uprisings. As Black people, as young people, as organizers and abolitionists, it became glaringly apparent during 2020 that we could not depend on white media nationally or locally to serve our best interests, or to empathize and advocate for us. So we brought our talents and passions together and formed The Defender.

KC Defender Team


Founder & Publisher

Ryan has a diverse background including working at one of the nation’s most esteemed Black think tanks, one of Chicago’s top B2B Tech PR agencies, a top 3 global PR firm, and founding Kansas City’s largest Black-led direct action group during the 2020 uprisings. During Ryan’s professional career he’s consulted brands such as Facebook, Samsung, Amazon and Google.

He is a recipient of the Civil and Human Rights Award recognized by the Urban League of Kansas City, Southern Christian Leadership Conference and NAACP. He has also engaged in a number of public talks as a prison industrial complex Abolitionist thinker including on; NPR, PBS, a Kansas City Art Institute Lecture, a lecture at University of the Arts London, the Annual International Symposium (Digital Ethics for a Sustainable Society), as well as the T-Mobile Speaker Series.


Senior Cultural Producer

JT is a Senior Cultural Strategist and Content Producer at The Kansas City Defender. He has produced numerous of The Defender’s most prolific cultural content and continues to lead editorial strategy, particularly targeting Gen Z. JT’s expertise in connecting with young audiences is informed by his career as a Hip Hop musician and spending years studying the wide-ranging and highly influential culture. He also led the organizing for The Defender’s historic Basketball Park Takeover.

Formerly, he was Co-Founder of Black-led Abolitionist organization Black Rainbow, and was also on the front-lines of Kansas City’s 2020 uprisings.


Staff Writer

Nasir is a Justice Reporter for the Kansas City Defender. Prior to moving to Kansas City in Summer 2021, Montalvo worked for GLAAD and was a prominent community organizer at their alma mater. Their current project at the Defender is unearthing Black, Queer Kansas City history in hopes of cycling ahead acceptance and fighting against the erasure of our most marginalized communities.

Donate So We Can Make Our First Hire!

We want to hire a Development Director to help with fundraising so our news outlet can become sustainable. Will you donate to make sure radical Black news is here to stay?

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