Biography of Reverend La Tonja Ellis

Reverend La Tonja D. Ellis is an innovator, educator, and community leader.

A native of Yazoo City, Mississippi, La Tonja learned at an early age the power of education. La Tonja’s educational accomplishments include a Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Administration (2002), Master of Public Administration (2005), and a Master of Human Resources Management (2010). While in leadership at Arnett Chapel A.M.E. Church, she accepted the call and matriculated through seminary to obtain a Master of Divinity from McCormick Theological Seminary in May 2020. In June 2022, La Tonja completed her studies and became a Certified Diversity Facilitrainer working towards equitable treatment of individuals daily. She also serves as a National Facilitator for Adult and Youth Mental Health First Aid since 2006.

La Tonja’s work in the community has made a local and international impact. She has held leadership roles in various organizations to include the African Methodist Episcopal Church, the University of Chicago, the University of Illinois at Chicago, United Way, Live Free Chicago and African International House.

La Tonja currently serves as the Director of Human Resources and Culture at the Children’s Defense Fund. She is also the Founder and President of ELITE Communities (, an organization that strives to Equip Leaders to Impact, Transform, and Empower communities while focusing on leadership and team coaching, recruitment, and mental health in the community, the workplace and in faith organizations. She also serves as the State of Illinois Undergraduate Basilei Council Chair for Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated.

In April 2021, La Tonja was ordained Itinerant Elder in the African Methodist Episcopal Church. She currently serves as the first female Pastor of Grant Memorial A.M.E. Church and also serves as Pastor of Turner Memorial A.M.E. Church in the Bronzeville neighborhood in Chicago. La Tonja is graduate of the two-year Mentee program called RISE Together a national mentorship network for women of color in ministry through Union Theological Seminary located in New York. La Tonja now serves as co-mentor lead for the McCormick Theological Seminary Cohort in Chicago.

La Tonja is happily married to her partner in life, Mr. Eric Ellis, and is the proud mother of two sons, Kenyatta Jay and Eric Jr., and one daughter, Ericka. Eric and La Tonja also parent one doberman, Roman.