Amanda Ellis

Adjunct Senior Fellow, Professional Development Program
EllisA [at]
Area of Expertise: 

International development and economics, international relations and diplomacy, international organizations, sustainability and the UN SDGs, public-private partnerships, gender, women’s economic empowerment and women, peace and security issues, banking, and access to finance

Amanda Ellis is the Executive Director, Hawaii & Asia-Pacific and Director of Strategic Partnerships for the  Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability at Arizona State University. She is an Adjunct Senior Fellow at the EWC where, from 2016-2018, she served as Special Advisor for International Programs and Partnerships in the Office of the President on secondment from the New Zealand Foreign Ministry.  Until March 2016 Ms. Ellis served as New Zealand’s Head of Mission and Ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva and the Prime Minister’s Special Envoy to Francophone Africa.  From 2010 she was Deputy Secretary International Development and the first woman to head the New Zealand Aid Programme, managing an annual budget of over $0.6 billion. Prior to this, Ms. Ellis was Lead Specialist in the Poverty Reduction and Economic Management Group at the World Bank Group in Washington D.C., where she managed the World Bank President’s Global Private Sector CEO Leaders Forum and led the Doing Business gender research project which created “Women, Business and the Law.” While at the World Bank, she worked with the Economist Intelligence Unit to create the EIU Women’s Economic Opportunity Index.  Ms. Ellis also founded the International Finance Corporation’s gender program, where she developed the first lines of credit for women entrepreneurs in Africa delivered through local banks.  In the late 1990s she served in senior executive roles at Westpac Banking Corporation in Australia, including as Head of Women’s Markets and National Manager Women in Business.

Ms. Ellis is the author of two best-selling Random House books, Women’s Business, Women’s Wealth and Woman 2 Woman and lead author of five research titles in the World Bank Directions in Development series on gender and growth in Africa, the Middle East, East Asia and the Pacific.  A founding member of the Global Banking Alliance for Women, Ms. Ellis is the recipient of the TIAW Lifetime Achievement Award for services to women’s economic empowerment and the East-West Center Distinguished Alumni Award.

Ms Ellis serves on the advisory boards of FINCA International, the UN Women’s Empowerment Principles, Friends of the East West Center, Hawaii Green Growth, the World Economic Forum Future Agenda Councils and the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) Advisory Committee on economic inclusion. She is a member of NZ Global Women and an honorary member of BPW International and Rotary International. Pacific Business News named Ms. Ellis one of ten 'women to watch' in Hawaii in 2017. 

Ms Ellis holds a BA First Class Honors degree in French and Economics from the University of Otago, New Zealand, an MA degree from the University of Hawaii at Manoa which she earned on an East-West Center scholarship, an LTCL from Trinity College of London. She has completed executive education programs at Harvard Business School and the Kennedy School of Government, the Stanford Graduate School of Business and INSEAD, and the Asia Pacific Center for Security Studies (APCSS) Transnational Security Course for two star generals and civilian equivalent.