Ellen Qualls ran surrogate communications for President Obama’s re-election effort and served as Senior Advisor for Strategic Planning to Speaker Nancy Pelosi for all four years of her first historic speakership. In that role, she helped coordinate communications among House and Senate Democrats and the White House on messaging and rapid response for the Affordable Care Act, the Recovery Act, Wall Street Reform, and other major legislation. She helped with cabinet confirmation media on then-President-elect Obama’s 2008 transition.
As the principal in Qualls Communications, Ellen served as senior advisor to Terry McAuliffe’s winning campaign for Governor of Virginia, advised Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring on his razor-thin recount and two terms in statewide office, prepped Martin O’Malley for his 2016 presidential bid kickoff, advised the DNC on support for Senator Ed Markey’s special election to the U.S. Senate, and helped prep former California Treasurer John Chiang to run for governor. She’s worked with former teachers running for offices from school board, to city council, to the state legislature, in California, Illinois, Mississippi, Texas, and Virginia.
Ellen was a senior communications advisor for five years to then-Governor Mark Warner of Virginia from his inaugural in 2001 to his leaving office with an 80% approval rating in the last Washington Post poll, as well as his exploration of a run for President in 2006. She also assisted with debate prep in his second successful U.S. Senate race.
Ellen has also managed media relations for a prominent Seattle-based philanthropic and civic organization, and consulted for The Rockefeller Foundation, the World Bank Staff Association, and the political and policy voice of the Millennial generation, Young Invincibles. From 2015 to 2018, Ellen led communications for a residential clean energy and energy efficiency financing company in southern California.
Ellen was a 2011 Resident Fellow at the Institute of Politics at Harvard, has an English degree from the University of Virginia, and is a former TV, radio, and weekly newspaper reporter.