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Staff Spotlight: Ellie Wallis

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Ellie Wallis got her start in nonprofits in an unconventional way.

There was a development that was going to be a strip mall right next to her home in Chattanooga, TN. The developer wouldn’t communicate with the neighborhood. So, Ellie organized with her neighbors and a local nonprofit that protected the creek near the development. When the nonprofit needed a new leader – Ellie stepped in. She learned everything she knows on the job in conjunction with a nonprofit resource center in Chattanooga.Ewallis-bluedress

Once she got settled into her position as executive director, “We lobbied city council to turn down permitting for it because it was zoned residential, and we actually won – we won twice in a row.”

Ellie worked with the developer to create a green and environmentally friendly space. The developer changed plans and it went from a strip mall to a multipurpose area with half the proposed development left untouched. This helped protect the creek.

From there, Ellie stayed in the nonprofit field. First she worked at The Tennessee Environmental Council for a while, then took a hiatus to care for a sick relative, later diving back into the nonprofit field through the arts.

A friend put her in touch with the Executive Director of an arts nonprofit. He needed lots of help to bring the nonprofit up to speed – he hadn’t had much experience. It was a local nonprofit that helped artists monetize their work and market their craft. It was a small operation – the Executive Director, Ellie, and three others.

Then, last October, her husband was transferred to Boise – so they packed up and moved across the country.

Outside the office, Ellie is wife to Tim, and dog-mom to corgis Blue and Olive. She just started at the WCA this past August and is enjoying the transition.

She loves “coming home from work and listening to a podcast as you color.” She likes to listen to audio dramas – a good one she recommends is called Greater Boston. She lived in Boston herself for a few years, between the ages of two and five, “that’s why I don’t have a Southern accent.”

Ellie also likes to read, cross stich and hike in the foothills. She loves spicy food – her favorite cuisine is Thai, closely followed by Indian.

You can find Ellie hard at work on our Philanthropy team as the Philanthropy Specialist. Welcome to the WCA Ellie! We are glad to have you!

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