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 a political network for pro-choice Democratic women candidates that 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 15 pro-choice Democratic women U.S. senators, 80 U.S. representatives, and nine state governors. One of the largest political action committee in the country, EMILY’s List has over 100,000 members and raised over $43 million for candidates or political programs during the 2008 election cycle.
In the News
In addition to being the public face and primary fundraiser for EMILY’s List, Malcolm in 2003 helped create America Coming Together (ACT), a massive 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. After completing her masters in business administration at George Washington University, Malcolm founded EMILY’s List in 1985.
Malcolm is frequently sought out for comment on campaigns, fundraising, and political strategy. 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, Roll Call, and other newspapers.
The recipient of numerous awards and honors, Malcolm received the Margaret Sanger Award from Planned Parenthood Federation of America in 2010, she was named one of America’s most influential women in 1998 by Vanity Fair magazine and, in 1999, one of the 100 Most Important Women in America by Ladies’ Home Journal. In 1992, Malcolm was among Glamour magazine’s Women of the Year, and was also named Most Valuable Player by the American Association of Political Consultants.