Leadership & Staff

La Tonja Ellis

Director of Human Resources and Culture

La Tonja D. Ellis is an innovator, educator, and community leader. A native of Yazoo City, Mississippi, La Tonja learned at an early age the power of education. La Tonja’s educational accomplishments include a Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Administration, a Master of Public Administration, a Master of Human Resources Management, and most recently a Master of Divinity in 2020. In April 2021, La Tonja was ordained Itinerant Elder in the African Methodist Episcopal Church where she serves as the Pastor of Turner Memorial A.M.E. Church in Chicago and is the Conference Coordinator for Chicago Women in Ministry.

La Tonja is a career Human Resources professional with over 20 years of experience in private industries (manufacturing/distribution, healthcare, & gaming), higher education, non-profit organizations, and public sector (mental/health substance abuse, community counseling and foster care and family wrap around services). She is adept at handling the intricacies of the employee and labor relations, recruitment, and professional development processes for both unionized and non-unionized environments. She utilizes keen negotiation and communication skills, combined with in-depth knowledge of business environments, to provide the qualities needed to successfully help all clients.

Most recently La Tonja was employed as the Executive Director of Student Affairs Human Resources at the University of Illinois Chicago and continues to serve as a national Mental Health First Aid Instructor for adults and adults working with youth with the National Council of Well Being. Prior, she served in many capacities at the University of Chicago looping her more intimately into culture, diversity and inclusion to include:

  • Director of Human Resources for Library Human Resources (University Library System)
  • Human Resources Generalist, Campus and Student Life
  • Dean on Call & Sexual Assault Dean on Call
  • Second Science Diversity and Inclusion Facilitator and Bias Education Support

La Tonja is certified as a SHRM-Certified Professional (SHRM-CP) with the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) and a Professional in Human Resources (PHR) with HR Certification Institute (HRCI). La Tonja is a graduate of the University of Chicago Booth School of Business Executive Program for Emerging Leaders (EPEL) certification program. Her most recent certifications included Trauma Healing Facilitator with the Trauma Healing Institute and Workplace Mental Health Ally with SHRM.

As the founder of ELITE Communities, La Tonja is passionate about community and gives back as a volunteer HR consultant while also serving as the Project Director for Morgan Park Freedom School. She has served on several Boards to include United Way South- Southwest Suburban Region, Live Free Chicago, African International House and the Indiana Dunes Great Banquet Community.

La Tonja is happily married to her partner in life, Mr. Eric Ellis, and is the proud mother of two sons, Kenyatta Jay and Eric Jr., and one daughter, Ericka. Eric and La Tonja also parent two Doberman Pinschers, Rollo (pronounced Raa- lo) and Roman. Without family, none of this is possible. She welcomes any fishing enthusiasts, board game challengers, skaters, bowlers, travelers, and outdoor adventurers into her space for fun and storytelling.