Paula Ellis

Paula Ellis, a former Knight Foundation officer, senior publishing executive and journalist, has long been a leader in journalism innovation and community engagement. She has decades-long experience in the for-profit, nonprofit and government sectors. As vice president for strategic initiatives at Knight Foundation, Ellis shaped the “informed and engaged” strategy, shifted the evaluation focus and launched a series of initiatives that would become signature efforts. She managed more than $500 million in grants when she retired last year. Ellis began her career as a journalist at several metropolitan newspapers. In 1980, she joined Knight Ridder Inc. where she worked for 26 years rising through the ranks as an editor, publisher and vice president/operations of the Fortune 500 firm she helped sell in 2006. Known for innovation and collaboration, Ellis often was tapped to lead key strategic efforts. A respected national journalist, she also delivered operational excellence. The Sun News in Myrtle Beach was Knight-Ridder’s top performing news organization for five of the seven years she led it. Ellis, president of Paula Ellis and Associates, is a trustee of the Poynter Institute for Media Studies, a member of the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics and board member of Grassroots Grantmakers and the Philip Merrill College of Journalism (University of Maryland) board of visitors. Ellis earned a bachelor’s degree in government and politics at the University of Maryland, where she was editor of the nation’s best student daily. She graduated from Northwestern University with a master’s degree in journalism and has been an adjunct faculty member at several universities.

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