Meet our team: David Ellis, VP of Communications and Policy

Meet David! David is Vice President of Communications and Policy at EFI. Formerly a journalist obsessed with politics, David loves watching baseball at Nats Park with his two sons, and jamming out to Bruno Mars.

Ellis, in his days as news chief at CQ Roll Call, was a regular presence on Capitol Hill.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

Well, like most kids at the time, I either wanted to be a baseball player or an astronaut. By the time I was about 12, I was seriously into politics and current events — and the reason was Watergate. My family was glued to the hearings and Nixon’s marathon press conferences. So pretty early on I knew I wanted to be a journalist. Like many aspiring journalists, I read The Boys on the Bus — a seminal work about the reporters on the 1972 presidential campaign. I studied journalism at Boston University, and was extremely lucky to get a paid internship right out of school at The Economist — in London! I spent the summer after my graduation working as what they called a “dogsbody” in the business section, chasing down all the stories nobody else wanted to cover — trips out of town to depressed areas of England, for example. It wasn’t all hard work: one weekend I was able to take a trip to Wales on the Orient Express on a trip sponsored by the British tourist board. After six months in London, I attracted the attention of a hiring manager at Time magazine, and got my first “real” job with the Business section, reporting stories and checking their accuracy at Time’s storied headquarters in New York.

What was your most rewarding experience prior to working at EFI?

I’ve been fortunate enough to have a lot of rewarding moments, but let me offer a full circle story. As I said, I was a politics nerd — I would watch the political conventions on TV at the age of 10. At 24, I found myself as a floor reporter at the Democratic and Republican National Conventions for Time magazine. I have a picture of myself from then with a lot more hair, convention credentials around my neck, and a big happy grin on my face. There I was doing what I wanted to do as a child. Even though I’ve been to other conventions, this first one was special — the moment in life where you could say “I made it.” Just before helping to establish EFI, I was Chief Content Officer at CQ Roll Call, working with 150 smart policy journalists, graphic designers, and data analysts. I suspect I might have also been even happier being starting center fielder for the New York Yankees in a World Series, but my writing and reporting skills were better than my ability to hit a fastball.

What’s the best thing about working at EFI?

EFI is populated with a lot of whip-smart, dedicated people who are committed to the mission of accelerating seismic change in energy systems across the world. Moreover, we are always mindful that we must tailor solutions to the needs of many different populations and energy infrastructures of varying levels of development and maturity.

What are you the proudest of since working at EFI?

I’m gratified that we have produced so much smart analytical work in just three years — one of my jobs was to help establish EFI as a preeminent thought leader on energy innovation and the energy transition. The quality of the work has made that task easier — our collective voice is welcomed and respected in industry, in government, and in academia. On a personal level, I’ve been gratified that over the pandemic months, my two sons (Nathaniel, 15 and Benjamin, 11) have seen what I do up close. They feel that the work I do can change the world in a positive way. And they also think I work too hard!

What gives you hope for the future?

I’m hopeful simply because we survived the political environment that pertained at the birth of our organization. One of the first experiences I had at EFI was sitting with Ernest Moniz working on an opinion piece on the Paris Agreement, and watching Trump in the Rose Garden condemning the ‘stupid people’ who wrote the accord. It was clear that we were in for a long four years. We got through that, very shakily, and we still have a long way to go to heal as a nation from those times. But the arc of history also bends toward truth, science, and positive change.

What’s your favorite song at the moment?

I love “Leave the Door Open.” Not sure if Bruno Mars is just goofing on 70s songwriting, but he perfectly replicated the sound of the Barry White heyday of deep-love ballads. Looking forward to the Silk Sonic album.

(Share this post with others.)