GilliganWebIMG_6544.jpgPresident & CEO

Contact Ellen

Main: 414.272.5805

Executive Assistant

Karmen Taylor-Jones

Direct: 414.336.7066

Main: 414.272.5805


As President and CEO since 2010, Ellen has amplified the Greater Milwaukee Foundation’s role as a leader, convener and catalyst, bringing community together around a shared vision for a vibrant region.  Serving Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Washington and Waukesha counties, the Foundation is Wisconsin’s largest community foundation and was among the first in the world.  Since being established in 1915, the Foundation has awarded more than $862 million in grants supporting a wide variety of nonprofits and initiatives that advance a higher quality of life in greater Milwaukee and beyond.

Ellen’s tenure at the Foundation has been marked by growth, collaboration and a deep commitment to strategies that strengthen the community and improve lives. Under her leadership, the Foundation organized and launched Milwaukee Succeeds, a communitywide educational partnership focused on success for every child in every school, cradle to career. She has guided the Foundation in making a generational commitment to advancing racial equity, inclusion and access to opportunity throughout the region. The Foundation also developed an impact investing program focused on expanding economic opportunity in underserved communities.

Much of Ellen’s career is dedicated to the community foundation field. Before coming to Milwaukee, she spent 12 years at the Greater Cincinnati Foundation, most recently as its vice president of community investment and president of the HealthPath Foundation.

Ellen is board chair of CFLeads, a national network of community foundations leading change. She serves on the national board of the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC). Locally, she is on the executive committees of Milwaukee Succeeds and the MKE United Downtown Action Agenda. She is a board member of the Greater Milwaukee Committee and has co-chaired its Creative Placemaking Committee. Ellen is a mayoral appointment to the City of Milwaukee’s Black Male Achievement Advisory Council and is a past board member of the United Way of Greater Milwaukee and Waukesha County. She is a graduate of the University of Colorado. Ellen and her husband, Charlie DeSando, have two sons.