Ellen Ritchie '04
Licensed Clinical Social Worker, SAFEHOME
Ellen Ritchie ’04 has always been an activist. In fact, activism was the subject of her research as a Hackworth Fellow at the Ethics Center. Surveying students in various departments, Ritchie explored the connections between Jesuit values and student activism.
That project was so impressive that she was asked the year after she graduated to host a workshop at the Idealist.org conference, a hub for people involved in nonprofits. “I presented on the transition from student activism to activism outside of college,” Ritchie remembers, adding that people sometimes have trouble moving from the strong community of college activists to the more isolated experience of community activism.
Ritchie has managed that transition well. After graduating, she worked as a youth development coordinator with immigrant teens in San Francisco and then as a sexual violence prevention advocate in Kansas City, MO. Eventually, she received her master’s degree from U.C. Berkeley in social work with an emphasis on children and families. Most recently, Ritchie has been working as a bilingual therapist at SAFEHOME, a domestic violence shelter in Overland Park, Kansas.
Throughout her work experience, Ritchie has focused on immigrant and refugee populations. She traces that interest back to SCU. During her time at Santa Clara, she was influenced by University’s Globalization Institute. She also received funding through the school to go to Bangladesh to study at the Grameen Bank. In addition, she studied abroad in El Salvador and Ghana.
Her formative years at SCU helped shape her career path. “I’ve always had the interest in ethics, values, principles—how we live our lives,” Ritchie says.