About Representative Ellie Hill

Representative Ellie Hill, a legislator from the State of Montana, a lifelong Rocky Mountain Westerner, and named by Time Magazine as one of the“40 Under 40 Political Rising Stars” in the nation.

Ellie is proud to be a lifelong Rocky Mountain Westerner.  A graduate of Bishop Kelly High School in Boise and proud alum of Idaho Girls State, Ellie played soccer at the College of Idaho, where she began significant involvement in social justice causes and thereafter developed an interest in progressive politics at Boise State University.  Ellie graduated from BSU with her father, a union worker and Vietnam veteran, who took one night class a semester for twenty six years.

Ellie continued her educational pursuits at University of Idaho, College of Law. In law school, she was the President of the American Bar Association and the Idaho Trial Lawyers, law student divisions. Ellie interned for the Nez Perce Tribe in Lapwai, Idaho, and worked as an attorney in both the private and public sector, including as a Deputy Prosecutor in Boise, Idaho.  She worked on political campaigns for both the current mayor of Boise, Mayor Dave Bieter, and the former Director of the Idaho State Democratic Party, Keith Roark, in his bid for Attorney General.

In 2006, Ellie was hired to serve as the Executive Director of one of Western Montana’s best-known and beloved nonprofit organizations. The Poverello Center, Inc., founded in 1974, is the State of Montana’s largest emergency homeless shelter and soup kitchen located in the heart of downtown Missoula. The “Pov” has an operating budget of approximately two million dollars and is led by a twelve member Board of Directors and a staff of fifty. Since Ellie took the helm, the organization has been voted by readers of the Missoula Independent, “Missoula’s Best Non Profit Organization” (2007, 2008, 2009, 2010), and Ellie has been personally voted “Missoula’s Best Activist”  for seven straight years (2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013) for her advocacy for the impoverished and her political engagement on progressive causes.

The success of the state’s largest homeless center, the Poverello Center, rests largely on the shoulders of Executive Director Ellie Hill. The former district attorney never expected to be in her current position, but she points out that the word “lawyer” translates to “advocate” in most other languages. Although she’s kicked around the idea of leaving her current position for a more traditional legal career, it’ll never happen. “I’m still a lawyer in a lot of ways,” she says. “I consider myself an advocate for the poor.”
–Editors, Missoula Independent

She was selected as a fellow in the prestigious “Montana Policy Institute” and Democracy for America chose her as a Netroots Nation scholar, where she has since been a panelist.

Interviewed frequently in print, television, and radio, she has been a speaker for the Aspen Institute on “Information Needs for the Poor”.  Ellie is one of Montana’s leading scholars on homelessness, poverty, and food insecurity issues.

In November 2010, Ellie won a hotly contested election and was elected to the Montana House of Representatives and thereafter named by Time Magazine as one of the nation’s “40 Under 40 Political Rising Stars.”  She is the former national Vice President for the Young Democrats of America, and named by the Washington Post as one of the best “State-based Political Tweeters.”

Ellie also co-founded the Montana Chapter of the New Leaders Council, was appointed to the City of Missoula’s Historic Preservation Commission, and is a proud Rotarian.

She served as the Co-Chair of the Montana Democratic Legislative Campaign Caucus and National Council of State Legislators, Law and Justice Committee and named by Project New West as a “Rising Western Woman Star”.

Ellie is a Forward Montana Rock Star (Bus Project), board member for the National Forest Service Museum, visited the White House with the Young Elected Officials Network, named by Project New West as a “Rising Western Woman Star”, and recently returned from the Middle East with a bipartisan delegation representing the American Council of Young Political Leaders (U.S. State Department).

In 2013, she received the “Hero Award” from the Montana Chapter of NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) for her legislative advocacy.

Ellie is married to Tyler Nations Smith, PhD, the Vice President of Research and Development of Rivertop Renewables.  They live near the banks of the Clark Fork River in the University District in downtown Missoula, Montana, with their three sons, Elliot (age: 9), Evan (age: 5) and their new baby Jackson.  They spend their free time fighting for the underdog


Short Bio (150 words)

Representative Ellie Hill
House District 94
State of Montana

Representative Ellie Hill, a third term legislator from the State of Montana, a lifelong Rocky Mountain Westerner, and named by Time Magazine as one of the“40 Under 40 Political Rising Stars” in the nation.

Ellie developed an interest in progressive politics at Boise State University where she graduated with her father, a union worker and Vietnam veteran, who had taken one night class a semester for 26 years.  After graduating from the University of Idaho, College of Law, with a Juris Doctor, she interned for the Nez Perce tribe and practiced as deputy prosecutor in Boise.  Thereafter, Ellie was hired to serve as the Executive Director of one of Western Montana’s best known and beloved nonprofit organizations, advocating for the homeless and impoverished, and voted by readers of the Missoula Independent newspaper as “Missoula’s Best Activist” (2007-2013).

Ellie is a Forward Montana Rock Star (Bus Project), the founding Co-Chair of the Missoula Chapter of the New Leaders Council, visited the White House with the Young Elected Officials Network and recently returned from the Middle East with the American Council of Young Political Leaders.  Ellie proudly served as the national Vice President for the Young Democrats of America and named by the Washington Post as one of the best “State-based Political Tweeters”.

In 2013, she received the “Hero Award” from the Montana Chapter of NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) for her legislative advocacy, named a participating scholar for the 66th Annual Conference of World Affairs, and together with her husband, Dr. Tyler Smith, they had a baby boy named, Jackson.

They spend their free time fighting for the underdog.

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Press clips from legislative work:

Time Magazine “40 Under 40 Political Rising Stars” in the nation (print):

http://content.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,2023831_2023829_2025204,00.html

and here:

http://missoulian.com/news/local/article_49c000c0-d74a-11df-95c1-001cc4c03286.html

** CNN Anderson Cooper 360 coverage of child abuse in religious schools (video):

http://ac360.blogs.cnn.com/?s=pinehaven

** Statewide coverage of Rep. Hill’s advocacy for public lands (print):

http://helenair.com/news/legislature/house-packed-for-debate-on-corner-crossing/article_6bac4774-7a1e-11e2-a379-0019bb2963f4.html

** Associated Press coverage of anti-bullying efforts (print):

http://missoulian.com/news/local/montana-schools-step-in-after-legislature-refuses-anti-bullying-bills/article_2ae2fcac-d116-11e2-9a7a-001a4bcf887a.html

** Advocating for equality for LGBT Montanans at the Montana legislature (video):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UKMhDpHryeQ