Ellis Jacobs

"We won because people out there were willing to trust themselves and weren't shy about expressing their opinions."

utility and environmental law, organizing

Dayton area

Ellis Jacobs is one well-rounded activist. He has been an attorney committed to public interest work for the past 20 years. Since 1987 he has worked at the Legal Aid Society of Dayton. Before he became an attorney, Ellis was one of the organizers of the Miami Valley Power Project which in the 1970's fought utility rate increases and nuclear power. He also helped organize unions at several Dayton workplaces and for a time worked for the Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers.

A native Daytonian, Ellis has always shared his legal expertise with community groups in a variety of environmental, housing, health and utility cases:

He served as legal counsel for the Edgemont Neighborhood Coalition and the Dayton Clean Air Coalition in 1990 and worked on Citizen Action's good neighbor campaign to stop Dayton-Walther foundry's pollution. Neighbors of the Dayton-Walther Foundry worked long and hard to document the foundry's violations of clean air laws. Ellis provided legal assistance. The organizing and his legal work resulted in the foundry receiving what was at that time the highest air pollution fine in Ohio history.

In 1995 Ellis helped establish the Dayton Clean Air Coalition to shut down two hazardous waste incinerators in Montgomery County. The campaign stopped the $113 million retrofit of the dioxin producing facilities. Ellis provided legal counsel to the group. He helped design a successful strategy that resulted in the incinerators being converted to transfer stations and recycling centers.

In 2001, after four months of public meetings, protests, petitioning, letters and phone calls, Valleycrest Neighbors and Concerned Citizens persuaded the U.S. EPA to continue the removal of drums of chemicals from the Valleycrest Landfill. Ellis worked closely with the group.

In October 2003, Ellis worked closely with citizens from Jefferson Township who mounted an electrifying campaign that convinced the U.S. Army not to bring partially treated VX nerve agent to a poorly-performing waste facility in a low-income neighborhood. Ellis attributes the victory to outspoken neighbors, "We won because people out there were willing to trust themselves and weren't shy about expressing their opinions."

Ellis has been the director of the Telephone and Technology Access Project which has won precedent-setting cases to increase access to telecommunications services in low income communities. Previously, Ellis presided over the city of Dayton's landlord/tenant court as a magistrate, worked as a public defender, and as an attorney at the Montgomery County Fair Housing Center.

Ellis has served as a board member for HOME, Inc. and the Dayton People's Fund and as chair for the Yellow Springs Planning Commission. He has participated in organizing actives to stop urban sprawl and to create affordable housing.

He is a member of the Ohio Community Computing Network board and is the chair of the Ohio Community Technology Fund board. He is the author of a number of articles on universal telecommunications access. Ellis recently completed a fellowship studying telecommunications law in the United Kingdom.

Ellis and his wife Desiree Nickell have a son and live in Yellow Springs.

May 19, 2008
DAYTON -- Ellis Jacobs is recipient of League of Women Voters Cathy Bantz Award, First to receive honor since 2005 for League’s community voter service recognition, press release, League of Women Voters.