In 1985 Ellen Malcolm founded EMILY's List, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping pro-choice Democratic female candidates win political elections on the federal, state, and local levels. "EMILY" is an acronym for Early Money Is Like Yeast (it makes dough rise), a comment Malcolm says she made while meeting with other women in her basement when EMILY's List was created. The List has contributed to the successful campaigns of at least 11 senators, 55 congresswomen and 7 governors. There are currently some 85,000 members of Emily's List, which claims to have contributed $9.7 million to pro-choice candidates in 2002. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi gives credit to the List for her successful candidacy in California.
- Founder of EMILY's List
- President of America Coming Together
Malcolm is also president of Americans Coming Together (ACT), a voter-registration activist group intent on "harnessing the passion, energy and commitment of millions of Americans who reject the extremist policies of George W. Bush and his right-wing conservative allies across the nation." ACT was co-founded by former AFL-CIO political director Steve Rosenthal.
According to her biography posted on the EMILY's List's website, Malcolm has been active in public service in Washington, D.C. for more than three decades. She started at Common Cause, a political activism group formed by former Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare John Gardener in 1970. At that time, the group was dedicated in large part to the anti-Vietnam War movement. Malcolm has also worked as the press secretary for the National Women's Political Caucus, and was the press secretary for Esther Peterson, President Carter's special assistant for consumer affairs.
Today, Malcolm is a top fundraiser for such groups as ACT, America Votes, and Media Fund. She and Harold Ickes, the Media Fund mogul and former Clinton aide, have joined forces with wealthy individual investors like George Soros (founder of the Open Society Institute) to gather millions of dollars for their groups. Soros alone has donated $10 million just to ACT.