Senior Leadership

Ellen Malcolm
Founder and Chair of the Board

As the founder of EMILY’s List, Ellen Malcolm has helped level the political playing field for women candidates; given women donors unprecedented influence in electoral politics; brought millions of women voters to the polls; and created a powerful movement dedicated to restoring progressive values to American government.

An acronym for “Early Money Is Like Yeast” (because it “makes the dough rise”) EMILY’s List is the nation’s largest resource for women in politics. The political network for pro-choice Democratic women candidates raises money to make women credible contenders, helps women build strong campaigns, and mobilizes women voters to go to the polls.

Since its founding in 1985, EMILY’s List has helped elect 19 pro-choice Democratic women U.S. senators, 102 U.S. representatives, and ten governors.  Throughout its 29 year history, the organization has recruited and trained over 9,000 women to run for office.  One of the largest and most successful political action committee in the country, EMILY’s List has over three million members and raised over $385 million to support Democratic women candidates.


In addition to being the founder of EMILY’s List, in 2003 Malcolm helped create America Coming Together (ACT), a nationwide organization dedicated to empowering and mobilizing voters. Malcolm served as ACT’s president in 2003 and 2004, helping to raise over $145 million for a sophisticated and personal voter contact effort in key states. Malcolm was also instrumental in the creation of America Votes, a coalition of progressive groups (including ACT and EMILY’s List) that work together to register, educate, and mobilize voters.

In a 2004 profile of Malcolm, the New York Times described her leadership of EMILY’s List and ACT as “a double threat to Republicans.” The Times quoted Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton referring to Malcolm as “probably the most influential fundraiser and adviser we've seen.” Malcolm has been active in public service in Washington, D.C., for over 30 years. She was an organizer at Common Cause in the early 1970s and later served as press secretary for the National Women’s Political Caucus. Malcolm joined the White House staff in 1980 as press secretary for Esther Peterson, President Carter’s special assistant for consumer affairs. Malcolm founded EMILY’s List in 1985, after completing her Master’s in Business Administration at George Washington University.  
She has been featured on “60 Minutes,” NBC’s “Today” and “CBS This Morning,” and in People and Fortune magazines. Her opinions have been published as guest columns in the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, the Chicago Sun-Times, and Roll Call, among other newspapers.

The recipient of numerous awards and honors, Malcolm received the Margaret Sanger Award from Planned Parenthood Federation of America in 2010, was named one of Vanity Fair’s  most influential women in America in 1998 and, one of the Ladies’ Home Journal  100 Most Important Women in America in 1999. In 1992, Malcolm was recognized as one of Glamour magazine’s Women of the Year, and was also named Most Valuable Player by the American Association of Political Consultants.


Sign up for our email list