About Us


The Susan J. Ellis Foundation was established by the estate of Susan J. Ellis “to expand the field of volunteer administration.”

Ellis was a passionate advocate for the professionalization of the volunteer engagement field. She recognized the importance of preserving the field’s history, encouraging volunteer engagement practitioner research and exchanging information and opinions about the field’s current trends and practices.

Acknowledging Ellis’ commitment in these areas, the Foundation decided to focus on maintaining two vital resources for the field:

  • a professional journal; and
  • a centralized online repository of materials and information which document the evolution of the profession and the field of volunteer engagement.

Learn more about this work


Susan J. Ellis was widely recognized for her knowledge, her indefatigable spirit, and her relentless promotion of volunteerism. She was an early leader of the professionalization of the volunteer management field. In 1977, she founded Energize, a training, consulting, and publishing firm that specializes in nearly every facet of volunteerism, working to assist organizations of all sizes and types to start, expand, or strengthen volunteer involvement. As president of this Philadelphia-based company, Ellis assisted clients in nonprofit health and human service organizations, cultural arts groups, professional associations, schools, government agencies, and businesses throughout North America, Europe, Asia, Latin America,  and Australia.

A prolific writer, Ellis was the author or co-author of 14 books, including From the Top Down: The Executive Role in Successful Volunteer Involvement and By the People: A History of Americans as Volunteers. From 1981 to 1987, she was editor in chief of The Journal of Volunteer Administration and was founder and editor-in-chief of e-Volunteerism (now Engage) from 2000 to 2019. She wrote more than 120 articles on volunteer management for dozens of publications, and wrote the national bi-monthly column, “On Volunteers,” for The NonProfit Times from 1990 to 2015.  

Links to more information about Susan:

Board of Trustees

Kristin Floyd
President, Communication First LLC
Online Program Manager, Energize

Betsy McFarland
Principal, Adisa Group
Executive Director, Energize

SarahJane Rehnborg, Ph.D., CVA
Consultant and Researcher, RGK Center for Philanthropy and Community Service, University of Texas at Austin

Erin Rebecca Spink, MA
Senior Manager, Ontario Volunteer Engagement
Canadian Cancer Society

Melissa Heinlein Storti, Ph.D., CAVS
Chief, Voluntary Services, Corporal Michael J, Crescenz Veterans Affairs Medical Center