about me

2022 Headshot 2

I know your time is limited, so if you want to skip the narrative below, here’s my short biography. If you’ve got the time to read on, please do.

Ellen (Ellie) Krug

What skills or talents make for a standout speaker? The kind of speaker where you say, “Wow! How did we ever get her?”

Is it humor? Personality? The ability to tell a good story?

Or personal passion?

While all the above are incredibly important (and attributes that attach to me in one degree or another), I believe the key ingredient to an outstanding presentation is authenticity. 

If the audience finds the speaker genuine and authentic, they will more readily connect with the speaker’s messaging.

“Authentic.” “Genuine.” “Open book.” “Compelling.” “Brave.” 

I’ve heard all of those phrases after various presentations. Recently, I even heard someone comment, “Ellie, will you go to Congress and teach them Gray Area Thinking? Our Country needs this.”  

My favorite most recent review (which you can see below) is this: Ellie – I really enjoyed your talk today in St. Paul at the MN CLE. Was quite moved – and I am not historically prone to being moved . . . . Am committing to be in the A+A camp going forward. Thank You. Sam.

Because my voice (distinctly masculine) contrasts with my appearance (distinctly feminine), I can talk about how we humans automatically label and categorize people who are “different.” My appearance-voice incongruity also allows me to talk about how I left one group of humans (the “Rich White Man Lawyer Group”) and entered an entirely different group (the “Marginalized Transgender Human-Woman Group”) which impacts my ability to fit in. In essence, with just the words, “I’m transgender” when I came out as the true me in 2009, I began to experience what it means to be “Other” in this society of ours that so easily divides between “us” and “them.”

While some of my presentations include parts of my personal story, my premiere training, Gray Area Thinking© is not at all about me but instead about providing a toolset for how to be more inclusive and welcoming toward anyone who is considered “different” or “Other.” I developed Gray Area Thinking© through research, personal observation, and just plain old common sense about how we treat each other. Audiences love this training because it is both concrete and inspirational. (See Sam’s comment above.) And for sure, I believe that in order to motivate people to change the way they think and act, they need to first be inspired to do so. Banging people over the head (e.g., “You have to do this”) just doesn’t work.

For credentials, I hold degrees from Coe College (Phi Beta Kappa, Phi Kappa Phi) and Boston College Law School. Beginning in 1982, I practiced law in Boston for five years where I was mentored by a brilliant trial attorney and an astute corporate lawyer. In 1988, I relocated to my hometown of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where I eventually founded and oversaw a law firm specializing in high exposure (death and life-changing injuries) trial work.  I have more than 100 trials to my credit, many of which were jury-verdict cases. I won far more cases than I lost.

In 2009, I transitioned from male to female. Within three months of transitioning, I became the first Iowa attorney, and one of the few nationally, to try a jury case in the other gender. I believe I’m also the first transgender attorney to argue before the Iowa Supreme Court.

In 2011, I started a Minneapolis-based nonprofit, Call for Justice, LLC that worked to connect low-income persons with legal resources. In 2015, the American Bar Association conferred upon Call for Justice, LLC an award for innovatively increasing legal access. Additionally, from 2011 to 2014, I co-chaired the Hennepin County Bar Association Diversity Committee, which launched a number of initiatives to promote racial and other diversity and inclusion in Minnesota.

From 2018 to 2021, I served on the executive committee of the Twin Cities Diversity & Inclusion Roundtable, an organization that counts approximately 450 diversity and inclusion professionals as members. The TCDIR meets bi-monthly for education and networking around critical D&I topics and issues.

After transitioning genders in 2009, I began speaking on what it means to be transgender. From there, I developed very formal training programs around that (“Transgender 101”) and around general inclusivity (Gray Area Thinking© and “Allyship 101”) as wells as motivational trainings and workshops (“Getting to Ellen: Gleaning Authenticity from a Moment of Truth”). Even when I worked as a nonprofit executive director, I trained and spoke on the side. I’ve now presented or trained on more than 1000 occasions in venues across North America. In January 2017, I left the nonprofit field to speak/train exclusively through my company Human Inspiration Works, LLC.

If you’d like an idea of the impact of my work, you can find my Impact Reports by going to that page of this website. (Unfortunately, with the pandemic, I haven’t issued a recent Impact Report–it’s on the “To Do” list…)

From 2011 to 2022, I was a monthly freelance writer for Lavender Magazine, through which my column reaches more than 40,000 readers a month. That column, Skirting the Issues, received Gold and Bronze Medal Awards for Excellence from the Minnesota Magazine and Publishing Association. Since 2019 I’ve been writing for Minnesota Women’s Press.

In January 2017, I began hosting a radio show; my current weekly radio and podcast show, “Ellie 2.0 Radio,” airs on AM950 in the Twin Cities. The show is an extension of my inclusivity work where I focus on idealism and idealists who are working to change the world for the better. Click here if you’d like to see a listing of past shows/have access to the show’s 250+ podcasts.

My memoir, Getting to Ellen: A Memoir about Love, Honesty and Gender Change (Stepladder Press), was published in February 2013 and is available on Amazon, Kindle, Nook and Apple iBooks. The memoir, which continues to sell well, has been featured in the St. Paul Pioneer Press and on Iowa Public Radio and has been reviewed on Amazon (5 Star rating) and Goodreads. My experience as a transgender trial attorney was a subject in the blog Lawyerist  and my story has been featured on the Huffington Post (podcast) and in various publications. I’ve given many interviews, including to Public Radio in Minnesota, South Dakota and Mississippi, and on MyTalk 107.1, KSTP television, and other media outlets.

I curate a monthly e-newsletter, The Ripple, which highlights the ways in which humans are good to each other, acting with compassion and empathy. The Ripple also offers tips on how to make your organization and personal life more inclusive. As of late 2022, the newsletter had more than 9000 recipients. To view/sign-up for the newsletter, see the “Newsletters” page on the menu bar of this website.

See the “Representative Clients/Sectors” page on the menu bar of this website for a listing of my past clients; to summarize, I work with clients in all industries and fields from Fortune 100 companies to small nonprofits. My audiences have ranged from as many as 3000 to as few as five across North America.

Again, here is my short biography with my picture.

Thank you for your consideration!

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17 thoughts on “about me

  1. Hi Ms. Krug,
    I heard your NPR interview and simply wanted to say “thank you” for helping to advance the viability of trans people. I am the mom of a 17 y/o trans son and everyday I worry about his future, as he steps out of high school, into college and hopefully into a professional career. Will he face discrimination, bigotry and bias? My son is small, 5’2″ and feminine in appearance despite having had top surgery and being on testosterone for well over two years. But, after listening to your interview I am feeling more hopeful and optimistic.

    I wanted to add, I teach nursing at St. Catherine University and as a final project for my doctorate I recently presented a 4 hour intervention to all nursing faculty (n=60) on Transgender Health and Experience. I had a panel of 5 transgender experts as part of the intervention, 4 of whom are trans themselves, the 5th a mom of a trans teen. My evaluations were 99.9% overwhelmingly positive and the dean of the department told me it was the most “transformational” educational intervention in the 20+ years she has been at St. Kate’s.
    So, once again……thank you.
    Laurie Sieve

  2. Ellie – I really enjoyed your talk today in St. Paul at the MN CLE. Was quite moved – and I am not historically prone to being moved . . . . Am committing to be in the A+A camp going forward. Thank You. Bill

  3. Ellie- I loved your session at the Employment Law Institute today! It was truly the best diversity/inclusion training I’ve ever attended. You kept it attention the entire 60 minutes. Thank you for doing this important work!

  4. Thank you for presenting a very engaging and relevant Transgender presentation for our Solo Small Firm Section CLE today. Thank you for everything you do to advance the legal community, the local community and the global community of humans as we wrestle with our inner identities.

    The presentation was informative, personal, engaging, fun and timely, especially given the fact that you cited a case from just two days ago!

  5. Dear Ms. Krug,
    I would greatly appreciate the opportunity to communicate with you. I have a group of students in Cedar Rapids who would greatly appreciate your help.

  6. Ellie an honor to meet you during/after your presentation in Rochester; having already read Getting to Ellen WOW you are a force woman! In gratitude, Irmgard

  7. I went to your training at the Bushnell and was chosen to come up to the front , I enjoyed talking to you before and after the training. I brought your book and I learned about many issues I never would of thought of,

  8. Ellie,
    Just wanted to thank you for the fair, humane, and no b.s. presentation that you provided in St. Cloud yesterday. It was very interesting and helpful. Right on the money. Nice job!

  9. I have been a huge fan of your radio show since you began on AM 950 here in the Twin Cities. As a semi regular caller when you do live radio you have always made me feel welcome. But tonight my daughter and I were very fortunate to be able to attend your seminar and I must say I was very impressed. I learned a lot about myself and there is a tremendous value in what you are doing. I can’t really even begin to fathom the amount of people whose lives are touch directly or indirectly by your training. As a minister who focuses on providing funeral services to people that I have a loss and do not have someone in their life to officiate a celebration of life I have become convinced that to truly be successful in this world it is not about what we own or what types of trophies or awards we win …..the goal is that somehow or another we leave this world a little bit better than it was when we got here. And you are definitely doing that. God bless you and your good work. Keep up the good fight my friend.

  10. You were one of our featured speakers at a gala by be the match and I have since shown everybody your website. And I am so inspired by you. Thank you so much for speaking up and sharing your story.

  11. Hello Ellie! I work for a municipality here in Minnesota. I was referred to you by a co-worker, who’s department you spoke to as part of diversity program this year. I wished I could have been a part of that, but I do cleaning and maintenance in the afternoon and evening. I have listened to your past podcasts, and keep up with your present ones. I am a transgender woman myself. I took a while to understand that I can’t change that, despite whatever negative thoughts I put upon myself. I am in my late forties, and help my parents out, with my father having a form of progressive dementia. You are inspirational! I am in the process in moving forward with my life, and when my life will allow it, I will actively try to improve others lives. Right now I am just trying to keep my folks lives going, and build up mine. Next month, 30 days, I will be out at work, and despite challenges, live a life that matches my soul! Janine Sigstad

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