Hi, I’m Ellie! I live in sunny Los Angeles with my husband and two kids (ages six and three). I’m passionate, adventurous, love to laugh, and have always believed in the power of human connection. I write as a means to process the world around me and within me, and to spark conversations that can foster introspection, empathy, and understanding.
I’ve always been deeply interested in people – our inner workings, how we interact, and how we express culture and values. I studied sociology in undergrad (Georgetown) and have a master’s in clinical social work (University of Michigan). I plan to eventually work as a therapist, but right now I do nonprofit fundraising and communications for a wonderful grassroots organization based in Cape Town.
Speaking of Cape Town, I lived in South Africa for 4 years – some of the best times of my life! What started as a year-long study abroad program turned into a second year working with a faith-based organization serving orphaned and vulnerable children in Mpumalanga Province, plus two years in Johannesburg building and implementing a mentorship program for young adults.
Before all that, I grew up in Southfield, MI (right outside of Detroit) and I owe so much to my upbringing. Southfield is a vibrant, diverse, working- to middle-class suburb where the public schools are about 85% African-American. The friendships I formed growing up instilled in me a natural sense of solidarity, which in turn birthed my passion for racial justice. My lived experiences have sent me on a lifelong journey to uproot the impact of white supremacy both within me and around me. If “activism is my rent for living on the planet,” as Alice Walker once stated, racial justice work is my “rent” for the honor of being loved, embraced, and educated by the Black communities in whom I have found belonging, from childhood to now. More than anything, I’m committed to living my life in a way that promotes Black thriving and joy.
Now, about my precious family: my husband, Hunja*, is from Kenya, and we met in South Africa. We’ve been happily married since 2013, after 20 months of living an ocean apart (I was in grad school and he was in law school). He is full of joy, with the purest heart, and his love steadies me. Keziah, our spunky, creative, and kind-hearted daughter, was born in 2014. Koimburi, our sweet, joyful, and curious son, was born in 2018. Koimburi is autistic, and much of my writing on parenting relates to our learning and budding advocacy in that area.
I’m a woman of faith, and my relationship with Jesus anchors me in hope, love, and community. It also infuses my passion for social justice and civic engagement. Other things I love: singing, reading, desserts of all kinds, cooking, musical theatre, exploring my city, movies that make me cry, and being my loved ones’ biggest cheerleader.
Thanks for being here!
*Yes, Hunja is also our family’s last name, in keeping with Kikuyu tradition.