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Rachel Ellis

Associate Director of the Southwest River Protection Program

Rachel works throughout the Colorado and Río Grande basins and Southwestern states on developing river protection projects, Wild and Scenic campaigns, and grassroots partnerships. As a lifelong resident of the region and with multi-generational roots in New Mexico, Rachel has deep ties and commitment to the Southwest. She is inspired by place-based and community-based river and water advocacy because it is a powerful avenue for actualizing social and environmental justice, particularly in the era of climate change.

Prior to American Rivers, Rachel did research, advocacy, and community organizing for Black Mesa Trust and various partners working to protect the Little Colorado River watershed. Before that, Rachel spent much of her career as a back and front country educator. She remains passionate about education and youth leadership.

Rachel is based in Flagstaff, AZ, which occupies the traditional, ancestral, and modern-day homelands of the Hopi, Zuni, Diné, Southern Paiute, Havasupai, Hualapai, Western Apache, Pueblos, and Hohokam people. When not at work, Rachel plays outside as much as possible with her husband, Zack, and her pup, Trout. 

Education: B.A. Double Major: Social Justice Education; Political Science – Prescott College, 2010

M.A. Sustainable Communities – Northern Arizona University, 2019

Favorite River: Río Chama