Ellen Magnis, Executive Director

Ellen Magnis is the new national Executive Director for Minds Matter. She is the former Chief of External Affairs of the Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center. Second in charge of the agency, she was responsible for a well-diversified funding strategy as well as the agency’s education program, including an annual conference for more than 3,900 professionals. She worked closely with the Board and CEO on crosscutting organizational initiatives to improve board governance, performance management and strategic planning. She also oversaw the organization’s marketing, public relations and legislative strategies.

Previously, Ellen was a long-time leader at the national center of the American Heart Association where she was responsible for national strategic alliances and healthcare quality. In collaboration with numerous volunteers from across the country, she launched a nationwide hospital certification program to improve care for stroke patients.

With a personal mission to help transform the lives of children/youth and a passion for leveraging the talents of volunteers across the country, Ellen is also a first-generation college graduate, making the new Minds Matter role her dream job. She has an undergraduate degree in Interdisciplinary Studies (Psychology, Sociology and Research) and an MBA with a concentration in Organizations and Strategy from the University of Texas at Dallas.


Jade KeenaDirector of Operations

Jade Keena brings years of experience in operations management to Minds Matter National Inc. Her post-collegiate career exposed her to a tremendous breadth of knowledge in day-to-day and big-picture administration, and she is ready to direct her skills and enthusiasm towards her true passion: the non-profit sector. Jade is a proud Summa Cum Laude graduate of Hofstra University, where she obtained dual Bachelor degrees in Public Relations and Creative Writing. While studying at Hofstra, Jade worked as a Public Relations intern at the Nassau County Coalition against Domestic Violence and as part of the V-Day Campaign.  As the first person in her family to graduate from college, Jade believes strongly in the importance of higher-education and is excited to help others achieve the same success. In her spare time, Jade enjoys writing poetry, and is an Academy of American Poets University and College Poetry Prize recipient.


Shelly Zhou, Program & Development Assistant

Shelly has been involved with Minds Matter since 2008. As a Minds Matter of NYC mentee, she was able to transform her dream of attending college into a reality, becoming the first person in her family to graduate from college. After graduating with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Human Biology from the University at Albany, Shelly’s passion to assist low-income families steered her back to Minds Matter. As a Minds Matter alum, she witnessed first-hand the positive impact of Minds Matter on the lives of ambitious young adults from low socio-economic backgrounds. Shelly hopes to help transform students’ lives as the organization did for her. Shelly honed her skills while researching at academic institutions such as New York University and Columbia University, and she looks forward to using her knowledge and passion to manage National programs and support chapters at Minds Matter. In her free time, Shelly can be found planning her next big excursion abroad or zip lining across a tropical rain forest.

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