Catholic Charities Announces New Director of Advocacy

(Minneapolis, MN – February 2, 2016)

Therese Gales; (612) 221-5161;

Acooa EllisLongtime Twin Cities public policy expert Acooa Ellis is the new director of advocacy for Catholic Charities of St. Paul and Minneapolis. In this role, Ellis directs the organization’s social justice advocacy and community engagement work, leading a network of thousands of advocates, volunteers, and community leaders.

Ellis’s passion for social justice has driven her work in nonprofit and human services organizations, local governments, and business. Most recently, Ellis was a leader in the government relations department at Target Corporation, where she was co-chair of the company’s African American Business Council. She has also held community engagement, planning, and public policy roles at Hennepin County and the City of Saint Paul. Additionally, Ellis’s previous experience includes time in direct service roles supporting families at Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Twin Cities and adults at Summit Academy OIC.

In addition to her professional resume, Ellis’s experience includes extensive volunteerism and civic engagement. She served on the advisory board of the Multicultural Endowment Fund of the Saint Paul Foundation from 2007-2010, and was a member of the board of directors and chair of the policy advisory committee for the Citizens League.

Since joining Catholic Charities in late 2015, Ellis has already begun advancing critical social justice initiatives. Her work so far includes serving as the only nonprofit representative on the Citizens League’s Met Council Task Force, which is evaluating the Met Council’s role in ensuring regional vitality. Ellis views the Met Council as critical to a regional future which fosters opportunity for all greater Twin Cities residents.

“Acooa’s passion for social justice and community engagement is inspiring,” said Tim Marx, president and CEO of Catholic Charities. “Her unique perspective will enhance our ability to engage leaders across business, civic, faith and community sectors, and to advance our vision of a community where there is poverty for no one, and opportunity for everyone.”

Ellis received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Iowa and earned her master’s degree in public policy, with a concentration in community economic development, from the University of Minnesota Humphrey School of Public Policy.

To learn more about Catholic Charities’ social justice advocacy work, visit

About Catholic Charities of St. Paul and Minneapolis
Catholic Charities of St. Paul and Minneapolis serves those most in need. We are a leader at solving poverty, creating opportunity, and advocating for justice in the community. Our programs for children, families and adults annually help nearly 30,000 people, regardless of faith, background or circumstance. Through our advocacy efforts, Catholic Charities serves as a tireless voice for those who often go unheard. Our work would not be possible without our dedicated volunteers and donors. To learn more, please visit

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