Home Concepts Concepts of Leadership Community Engagement Emerging Sage Leadership: Interview of Galen Ellis

Emerging Sage Leadership: Interview of Galen Ellis

18 min read

Interview Conducted by Lori Burkhart

[Note: This interview is one of 100 conducted in Nevada County, California by Gary Quehl and his colleagues. One half of the interviews were conducted with “emerging sage leaders” (Galen Ellis being one of these emerging sage leaders). The other 50 interviews were conducted with “senior sage leaders” in Nevada County. All of those who were interviewed are actively involved in the ongoing development of their community.]

You have been identified by friends and colleagues as one of our community’s 50 top emerging sage leaders. A sage leader is a person who brings unusual experience, sound judgment, and wisdom in working to advance the civic well-being of our community.

1. To begin, how many years have you lived in Nevada County? Where in the county do you reside?

I live in Nevada City and I’ve been here four years.

2. May I ask how old you are?

I am 48 years old.

Galen Ellis3. If you would, please share a bit about your personal history: where you grew-up; where you went to school and college; what organizations you have worked for and the positions you have held.

I grew up primarily in San Diego. I was born in Northern California and lived for a short time in Illinois. I went to high school in San Diego and for one year in Urbana, Illinois. After High School, I went to a community college, then UC San Diego for a year, but wasn’t ready to complete my degree. I worked for several years and finally went back to San Francisco State and finished my bachelors in 1989. Then I got my Master’s Degree in Public Health from Berkeley in 1991.

I graduated from high school when I was 16 and then had retail and government jobs.  I started working in the non-profit sector by the time I was 18. I worked for a feminist women’s health center called Womancare in San Diego, and then did consulting for labor unions and some public health work while I was in graduate school.  After I completed my MPH at Berkeley, I went to work for a non-profit called Center for Working Life. So, my early years were mostly in women’s health and the labor movement. Later, I went into a more traditional public health organization and worked for Contra Costa County Health Services. When I had my kids, I did consulting again for about nine years and then came here to work for the Nevada County Public Health Department.

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