Acooa Ellis Senior Vice President of Community Impact
Acooa Lee Ellis is the Senior Vice President of Community Impact, a role that provides leadership over United Way grant making, coalition engagement, systems change, public policy and agency’s 2-1-1 resource helpline. Acooa is a champion for equity who has lobbied in multiple states and worked at the local level to advance critical business and civic objectives. She most recently served as Director of Social Justice Advocacy at Catholic Charities of St. Paul and Minneapolis, where she orchestrated a successful multi-year grassroots effort to secure millions in state funding to end and prevent homelessness.
Acooa previously managed government relations for the southern region of the country on behalf of Target Corporation, and created the community development strategy for what later became the St. Paul Promise Neighborhood—a network of support to improve education outcomes and pave pathways of opportunity for children and their families in the Frogtown and Summit-University neighborhoods, as legislative aide to former St. Paul city council member Melvin Carter.
Acooa holds a bachelor’s of psychology and sociology from the University of Iowa, and master’s of public policy with a concentration in community economic development from the University of Minnesota Humphrey School of Public Affairs.