Wednesday, January 1, 2014

NJ Coalition to End Homelessness welcomes new director

The Coalition is pleased to announce the appointment of Deb Ellis as Executive Director. Created in 2012, the statewide Coalition works to eradicate homelessness through public policy advocacy, education, and organizing. 

“The appointment of Deb Ellis is a critical part of our initiatives to end homelessness in New Jersey,” said Alison Recca-Ryan, the Coalition’s President. “Deb’s passion, extensive advocacy experience, and energetic dedication will enable the Coalition to be a leading voice for the homeless of New Jersey and ensure that homeless individuals are treated with dignity and respect.”

Deb has had a long career as a social justice advocate, both in New Jersey, where she was the Legal Director of the American Civil Liberties Union, and on the national level. Deb’s work on behalf of the homeless began in the late 1980’s as an overnight volunteer at the Riverside Church’s shelter in NYC. Since moving to New Jersey, she has volunteered for both the Interfaith Hospitality Network of Essex County and Toni’s Kitchen in her hometown of Montclair.

Most recently, Deb was Assistant Dean for Public Service at NYU School of Law, where she launched a new generation of lawyers into public interest law while creating innovative programs to strengthen NYU’s institutional commitment to public service. Deb’s work at NYU was recognized by a White House Champion of Change Award, the National Association for Law Placement’s Leadership and Public Service award, and the NYU Law Alumni Association Public Servic Award.

“I am grateful to have this opportunity to serve,” Ellis said. “It is a travesty that in New Jersey, with some of the wealthiest counties in the U.S., we have thousands of homeless individuals and families. It is hard to believe that some New Jersey citizens even live in tent cities, just like the Hoovervilles of the Depression era. I am looking forward to working with partner organizations in New Jersey to find innovative solutions.” 

In addition to serving as Legal Director of the ACLU of New Jersey and of NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund, Deb was a staff attorney at the national ACLU and the Southern Poverty Law Center and a partner in a small employment discrimination law firm in Newark. She has taught at NYU and Rutgers Law Schools and at Yale College, and has spoken and published widely on social justice. Deb graduated from Yale College and NYU School of Law. Deb can be reached at

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