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Employee Profile: Sara Ellis

Florida native Sara Ellis joined the American Botanical Council (ABC) in May as the organization’s communications and marketing coordinator. The position was created in response to the increased importance of ABC’s online news presence and involvement in social media. Working with ABC’s Development Director, Denise Meikel, Sara will be responsible for enhancing public awareness of ABC’s educational mission, which includes disseminating information to the widest possible audience on the scientifically documented benefits of herbal and plant-based medicine.

“I was looking specifically for a nonprofit. I tried to work in the for-profit sector, and it wasn’t for me,” Ellis said. “There’s a huge cultural difference between working somewhere that is driven by profits and the bottom line, versus someplace like ABC where money is also incredibly important because it’s supporting your mission, but there’s a lot that goes with it, and at the end of the day, you know you’re working toward something good.”

Sara relocated with her fiancé to Austin, Texas from the eastern coast of Florida, where she worked for The Astronaut Scholarship Foundation, a nonprofit organization that provides financial assistance to students interested in pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. “It definitely had its perks,” she said. “I got to meet a whole lot of astronauts while I worked there, … and I also got to attend the last couple space shuttle launches from the VIP viewing area at the Kennedy Space Center.”

Although Sara is switching focus from scholarships and astronauts to herbal medicine and research, her strong work ethic, ambition, and commitment to science-based nonprofits are clearly evident. In her first 2 months on the job, Sara helped propose, design, and create ABC’s newest e-publication, Herbal News & Events.

“We just finished this huge push to create the new Herbal News & Events email, which is the new weekly e-newsletter that includes conferences and seminars that are of interest to our members and supporters,” said Ellis. “And of course Media Watch items — looking out for what’s going on in the news that is relevant to our readers — and also providing increased access to ABC’s publications like HerbalEGram, HerbClips, and HerbalGram articles. The feedback from ABC members and others so far has been overwhelmingly positive.”

Ellis admits that her knowledge of plant-based healing was limited before joining ABC, but she says she has been enjoying learning more about the science behind herbal medicine. “As far as my job goes, learning about herbs and dietary supplements is a whole new world for me,” she said. “Getting to learn about the wonderful research that’s going on, the different possibilities that are out there, has really been eye-opening for me.”

Now, with a newfound appreciation for herbal medicine, Ellis is spreading the word one newsletter, press release, and ABC member advisory at a time. “Thus far, a large portion of what I’ve done is trying to communicate to our members and to our website’s registered users, not only what is going on at ABC, but what else is going on in the world of herbal products, dietary supplements, etc.,” she said.

When she isn’t at the office, Sara enjoys trying new Austin restaurants and taking care of her 2 new family members — Herschel, a rescue dog, and Charles “Charlie” Bucatski, a Turkish Angora cat — all while planning her November wedding in Florida. “I love Austin,” she said. “I don’t love the heat, but I love everything else about being here.”

A one-time student of radio and television at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, Ellis is also an avid reader and enjoys discussing British television series with other ABC Anglophiles. “I worked in television for a while and through a confluence of events ended up getting into marketing and found that I really liked it, particularly nonprofit marketing and communications,” she said. “So, here I am. I really enjoy it — the feeling of satisfaction that you know you’re not just working toward somebody’s bottom line, but, in whatever way, you’re making a difference.”

–Tyler Smith