Partner, Managing Director and Client Service Officer, William Blair Investment Banking
With nearly two decades of strategic leadership across government and the private sector, Ellen-Blair is a finance executive who brings a unique holistic perspective rooted in her experience in public policy, operations, and client-oriented work on the buy and sell-side. At William Blair, she is responsible for high-level engagement with clients, including the development of a global client service platform to obtain insights and feedback from the firm’s clients on their individual and collective interactions. Ellen-Blair also developed and now leads William Blair’s CEO HUDDLE, an exclusive community for chief executives in the firm’s client network to share ideas, resources, and strategies through convenings and an online portal. In addition, she is a member of the firm’s Benefits Committee.
Prior to joining William Blair in 2015, Ellen-Blair was Vice President and Chief of Staff to the Chairman and CEO at Ariel Investments. In that role, she was responsible for providing strategic and operational support, as well as translating the firm’s short and long-term vision into actionable strategies. She was also the CEO’s chief adviser on political & public policy issues and led key corporate governance initiatives. This included serving as the executive director of the Black Corporate Directors Conference, an annual gathering of Black directors serving on Fortune 500 boards. In addition, she was a registered representative of the firm and focused her business development efforts on the federal pension and foundation/endowment community.
Before Ariel, Ellen-Blair spent nearly a decade in Washington, DC operating at the nexus of politics, policy, and business. She served as the Staff Director for the Senate Banking Subcommittee on Security, International Trade and Finance. In that role, Ellen-Blair set and implemented former Chairman Evan Bayh’s (D-IN) agenda for issues related to international finance, and served as Bayh’s chief adviser on all Banking Committee and economic issues. She was responsible for his legislative priorities (specifically on corporate governance) in the Dodd-Frank financial regulatory reform bill enacted in July 2010. Ellen-Blair began her career in public service working as a senior advisor for Congressman Harold Ford, Jr. (D-TN). Following her time with Congressman Ford, she worked in the government affairs practice of Brownstein, Hyatt, Farber and Schreck, LLP. At the law firm, she represented and provided strategic public policy advice to clients in the financial services and media/telecommunications industries.
Ellen-Blair serves on the board of Equity Commonwealth (NYSE: EQC; Audit, Nominating and Governance Committee) and Oil-Dri Corporation of America (NYSE: ODC; Chair, Nominating and Governance; Compensation Committee). She is a trustee of the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (Chair, Audit Committee; Finance, Executive Committee) and is on the board of the Chicago Children’s Choir (Chair, Development Committee; Executive Committee). She is also a member of the Obama Foundation Inclusion Council and the Economic Club of Chicago. Ellen-Blair was named one of Crain’s Chicago Business “40 under 40” in 2014 and one of Directors & Boards “2020 Directors to Watch.” She graduated from Northwestern University with a BA in political science and earned a JD from Georgetown University Law Center.