Partnership for Equitable and Resilient Communities announces new executive director

January 11, 2023 – Today, the Partnership for Equitable and Resilient Communities announces Acooa Ellis as its new executive director. Ellis’s background in directing mission-driven initiatives in local government, nonprofits and corporate sectors will advance PERC’s mission to promote racial equality through community investment. She assumes her new role immediately.

“We are excited to welcome Acooa Ellis as executive director of PERC,” said Melville Charitable Trust President Susan Thomas. “Acooa is an innovative leader, who has a deep history of engaging diverse stakeholders to initiate change.”

Ellis has experience leading large public-private collaborations to address complex community challenges. Most recently,  she served as the senior vice president of Community Impact for Greater Twin Cities United Way’s work in grantmaking, coalition engagement, systems change and public policy. She also is the principal strategist of ABLE Endeavors, a firm that supports mission-driven executives, political principals and business leaders advancing transformation.

Additionally, Ellis serves as a board member for Regions Hospital, is trustee of the University of Minnesota Foundation and a regular contributor to the Forbes Nonprofit Council. She received her bachelor’s degree in psychology and sociology from the University of Iowa and her master’s degree in public policy with a concentration in community economic development from the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs.

“I am excited to use my skills, knowledge and leadership to advance PERC’s mission,” said Ellis. “My career has been devoted to removing barriers and building bridges to actualize the possibility in communities. Working with the PERC partners will allow me to continue that work.”

PERC is a newly-launched innovative approach to public investment, ensuring resources advance equitable, community-driven solutions, determined collaboratively by Black, Indigenous and Latino/a/x people living in historically under-resourced neighborhoods. The first PERC sites include Cleveland, Ohio, Durham, N.C., Saint Paul, Minn. and Selma, Ala. The mayors of these cities are all committed to equitable investments and an inclusive process to direct federal resources. As executive director, Ellis will lead local and national philanthropic fundraising efforts, foster relationships with federal partners, expand PERC to new communities and direct communications strategies.

“Acooa’s experience and commitment are a perfect fit with PERC’s goals,” said Thomas. “She is a strong leader and we look forward to her expanding PERC’s vision and reach to include even more partners and cities.”

January 11, 2023