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!