DOWNTOWN SACRAMENTO — Based on her educational background, work history, and passion for community development, Dr. Addie Ellis has taken major steps to ensure that her career resume is ultra-impressive and filled with leadership pertinent information.
In the month of June, Dr. Ellis added another valuable facet to her summary of job experiences when she was presented with the Carl “Tobey” Oxholm III Leadership Award at Drexel University’s recent commencement in Sacramento.
The award was created by the Drexel’s Graduate Student Association to recognize “leadership in the classroom and in the community.” Tobey Oxholm was the inaugural Executive Director for Drexel University Sacramento.
But the most glaring item on Dr. Ellis’ curriculum vitae is her passionate advocacy for children and youth who are experiencing homelessness in the Sacramento region and beyond.
Since October 2010, Dr. Ellis has been a volunteer at the Mustard Seed School, a crisis facility for children ages 3 to 15 who are experiencing homelessness or housing instability.
A major goal of the Mustard Seed School, a program associated with Loaves and Fishes, is to prepare and enroll homeless children into public schools, and preschool once the families have found permanent housing.
“It’s an emergency school,” Dr. Ellis told The OBSERVER. “So when kids are experiencing homelessness they are here until they go back to regular schools when they are a little bit more stable. The goal is to provide support (for the families) while their kids are out of school, and then re-integrate them back into traditional schools.”
Mustard Seed School can have as few as six or seven children on a school day or as many as 18 or 19 preschool children. Opened since 1989, the school is a fluid operation that tries to have as many volunteers it can to support the teachers. Dr. Ellis spends a one day a week there providing up to three or four hours of her spare time.
“(Volunteering at Mustard Seed School) is just one of the things people can do to help because their are a lot of children that come through here,” Dr. Ellis said.
Dr. Ellis currently works for Sacramento Steps Forward as the Youth Policy Initiative Director. In that position, she develops strategies to address the needs of transitional-age youth experiencing homelessness.
Sacramento Steps Forward was incorporated in 2011 as a private non-profit organization ensuring that individuals and families experiencing homelessness or the risk of homelessness are able to access housing services and resources on their path to economic stability.
Dr. Ellis, attended the University of California at Riverside, though earned her doctorate degree in the Education Leadership and Management program from Drexel. She was one of the 127 Drexel graduates who were awarded master’s level diplomas at the third-ever commencement ceremony for Drexel University in Sacramento last month.
“With Drexel, all of our programs have a leadership component to it and an expectation that the students who are attending Drexel are giving back to their communities,” Dr. Ellis said. “We have a strong commitment to civic engagement and involvement supported by the university.”
A Senior Fellow of the Nehemiah Emerging Leader’s Program, Dr. Ellis is also a part-time professor at St. Mary’s College in Moraga where she guides graduate students in workshop and classroom presentations that includes counseling children who are classified as ethnic minority and economically disadvantaged. She also lectures across the state on the state of youth affected by homelessness.
A graduate of Highlands High School in Sacramento and a board member of Capitol Collegiate Academy, Dr. Ellis has been an educator for much of her life. She is the co-founder of the Global Youth Charter High School in Antelope and served as its principal for six years.
Practically everything Dr. Ellis (who also knows American Sign Language) does or want to do in her private life and career is centered around helping young people and strengthening their positions in life.
“I have a passion for working with young people,” Dr. Ellis said. “It’s very exciting when your purpose and passion aligns and you are able to make a living doing the things that worthwhile and meaningful in the world.”
By Antonio R. Harvey
OBSERVER Staff Writer