Sara Ellis Conant

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Sara Ellis Conant, National Project Management Office Lead, Enterprise Sustainability, Deloitte Consulting.

Co-founded Young Women Social Entrepreneurs in 1999

Associations/memberships: Social Venture Network; RSF Social Finance (Board); YWSE (National Board)

"I grew up in Rapid City, South Dakota, which is in the Black Hills. Growing up in the natural, pristine beauty of the Black Hills gave me a foundation for loving the earth. I also gained a sense of spiritual connection. It’s a sacred place to many people, including the Lakota Native Americans.

"When I was 15, I had a turning point. I read Anita Roddick’s autobiography Body & Soul. She founded the Body Shop. The next year I read Ben and Jerry’s book, Double Dip. I thought, “That’s what I want to do with my life.” It was so compelling to me that you could leverage business for social and environmental good.

"What were your experiences after coming to California? I left South Dakota at age 18 to go to Stanford. While at Stanford, I spent the summer of 1997 interning with the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh, which was another pivotal moment...

"After finishing my undergrad, I worked for RSF Social Finance [the fiscal sponsor of YWSE – Eds]. While there, I founded YWSE in 1999. In 2002, I founded Ellis Group, a consulting and coaching firm that helped companies be more values-based. Then I got my MBA from Stanford in 2006. Since then, I have been at Deloitte and now am the national manager for our sustainability and corporate responsibility services for our clients...

"Who do you admire – either famous people or those close to you? Anita Roddick has been and continues to be a key inspiration. She was a pioneer in the field of socially responsible business; she set standards and did things in a way that they had never been done before. She was an activist and a businesswoman, as I strive to be.

"My father, Dave Ellis, is one of my best friends and an inspiring businessman, teacher, and philanthropist. As I wrote about in “Being-Based Business” in Building an Extraordinary Business: Successful Strategies for Growing Your Business From the Worlds’ Premier Business Coaches, the publishing company he ran was values-based. They had hug breaks instead of coffee breaks and total transparency around finances, salaries, and performance evaluations. Fourteen years after starting the business, he sold it to Houghton Mifflin. He took the majority of the money from the sale and put it into philanthropic work. He lives on about one-fourth of his income and gives away over half. Talk about leveraging resources for change!

"Lynne Twist, who wrote Soul of Money, is another important mentor who encouraged me to go to Bangladesh. I admire her as a woman who has had a lot of influence with a different style than Anita’s. Anita’s style is fiery; Lynne’s style is tender." [1]

Resources and articles

Related Sourcewatch articles


  1. Faces of YWSE: Sara Ellis Conant, Young women social entrepreneurs, accessed October 16, 2009.