Meet Ellen

Ellen Ratner feels equally at home interviewing presidents and congressional lawmakers; eloquently – and, at times forcefully — expressing her liberal views as a Fox News Channel analyst; or chatting with children in the destitute, violence-ravaged South Sudan, for which she advocates tirelessly.

She’s been to the poverty-stricken country more than 25  times. Not long ago, she stood in a dusty town in the impoverished flatlands of Northern Bahr el Ghazal and said: “I’m happier here than any place else on earth. God, I love South Sudan. I just love this place.”

A seasoned, award-winning journalist who has covered four U.S. presidents, Ratner serves as the Washington Bureau Chief for Talk Media News. The Washington-based news service’s content is broadcast on more than 400 U.S. radio stations, and its correspondents appear on talk radio shows regularly to provide news and analysis.

Ratner helped pioneer the Radio Row concept, in which news outlets pay for prime broadcasting space at national political conventions and other major events, with the first one at the White House in 1993. (Among many other journalistic accomplishments, Ratner carries the distinction of being the only talk-show host to interview former President Bill Clinton in person twice.)

On Fox, Ratner has appeared on The Strategy Room and The Long and Short of and is known for exposing bias in the media and chastising the mainstream press for its shortcomings. She can be heard on countless radio stations nationwide providing her insight analysis about Washington.

Ratner also served as the political editor and Washington bureau chief for Talkers Magazine, the “Bible” of the talk industry. And she has received the prestigious Judy Jarvis Award as Woman of the Year and the Henry Gruenwald Public Service Award from Lighthouse International for her community service work. She was awarded an honorary doctorate from St. George’s University for her work in South Sudan.

A Cleveland native whose journalism and advocacy work has taken her to more than 70 countries across the globe, Ratner holds a bachelor’s degree from Goddard College in Plainfield, Vt. and has served on the board. She also holds a master’s in education from Harvard University — is the author of several  books, including Ready, Set, Talk! A Guide to Getting Your Message Heard by Millions on Talk Radio, Talk Television, and Talk Internet, 101 Ways to Get Your Progressive Ideas on Talk Radio, and The Other Side of the Family: A Book for Recovery from Abuse, Incest and Neglect  For that book – an inspirational guide to help survivors of abuse through the painful stages of recovery to healing – Ratner drew on her 18 years’ experience as a professional therapist and addictions counselor.

For the first half of her career, Ratner worked as an addiction-recovery therapist and ran the psychiatric day treatment program at the South Shore Medical Center in Quincy, Mass., one of New England’s largest outpatient mental-health clinics. As Vice President of Addiction Recovery Corporation in the mid-1980s, she co-founded the Pride Institute, the country’s first gay- and lesbian-focused drug and alcohol treatment clinic.

Pride, still in operation, has been widely praised for its pioneering efforts at a time when both the medical establishment and American culture misunderstood the needs and experiences of the gay community. Dr. Gerald Schulman, another one of the institute’s co-founders, told the Jewish-focused Tablet Magazine: “Gays either wouldn’t go to a mainstream treatment program, of they would go and not talk about their sexual orientation. They needed a gay-affirming culture, but that couldn’t happen in a mainstream treatment center.”

Ratner, a pescatarian who considers animals her children, works in South Sudan with Darrin Peterson and Cholene Espinoza – South Sudan is the world’s newest country and one of its most violent and poorest. In 2005, Espinoza and Ratner traveled to Pass Christian, Miss., together to raise money and help to build the Marsha Barbour Community Center in a town torn apart by Hurricane Katrina.  Cholene Espinoza wrote a book about Katrina and the devastation.

Today, they all work at the Goats, Education, Medicine, Sustainability (GEMS) Development Foundation,    a nonprofit established by them to initially to raise money and awareness to fight hunger in South Sudan. (www.goatsfortheoldgoat.com) The foundation, which has donated more than 14,000 goats to feed liberated slaves and other impoverished people of South Sudan, has expanded its roles dramatically. The GEMS foundation now offers programs for people suffering post-traumatic stress disorder, sustains successful schools and recreation programs, and helps with medicine, by training workers and doctors South Sudan to provide treatment and help prevent disease.

Ratner is an ordained Spiritualist Minister – Spiritualism is a movement whose adherents believe spirits of the dead communicate with the living —  The movement is still in existence and operates in Lily Dale, New York among other places in the USA and abroad.  Lily Dale began as the Cassadaga Lake Free Association. Lily Dale (pop. 275) draws about 22,000 visitors a year for classes, workshops, public church services and mediumship demonstrations, lectures, and private appointments with mediums. The tiny town gained fame anew with HBO’s 2010 documentary, “No One Dies in Lily Dale.” When in Lily Dale, Ratner worships at the Church of the Living Spirit, an independent Spiritualist Church.

The 2011 book Ratner co-authored ‘ Self Empowerment: Nine Things the 19th Century Can Teach Us About Living in the 21st. ‘, draws on tenets of spiritualism, along with healings and other alternative medicine. She has recently written ‘  with quotes from the 200+ Spiritualist Newspapers which were active in the mid- 1800’s and “Loving What You Do- The Elements of A Great Working Life- having nothing to do with Spiritualism but everything to do with a great working life.”