Bio and Family


Ellen and her family moved to Durham in 1980. She is married to Kenneth Reckhow, professor emeritus in the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University. They have two children, Sarah and Michael, and two grandchildren.


Master’s Degree in City and Regional Planning, Harvard University, 1974
B. A., Economics Magna Cum Laude, Boston University, 1972

Work Experience

  • Redevelopment Coordinator, Building, Safety and Development Department, Lansing, MI, (1978-80)
  • Senior Planner, Lansing Planning Department, Lansing, MI (1977-78)
  • Planner, Newton Planning Department, Newton, MA (1974-77)
  • Intern, Newton Planning Department, Newton MA (1973)

Awards and Recognition

  • Kid’s Voting Champion of Democracy Award, 2010
  • Durham Women’s Commission for Outstanding Service by an Elected Official, 2009
  • Dorothy B. Graham Child Care Services Award, 2008
  • Triangle Business Journal Space Award: Economic Development Award for Existing Industry, 2007
  • North Carolina Council of Community Programs Leadership Award, 2005
  • Partnership for Children Champion for Children Award for Public Office, 2005
  • Goodmon Award for Exemplary Regional Leadership by an Elected Official, 2004
  • National Community Education Association Citizen Leadership Award, 2004
  • Read Seed Inc Ambassador for Literacy, 2004
  • Sierra Club Environmental Leadership Award, 2002
  • Rex Whittington Award for Outstanding Contribution to Community Education in North Carolina, 2002
  • North Carolina Planning Association Elected Official of the Year, 2000
  • Eisenhower Fellow, 2000
  • Herald-Sun Durham Grit Award, 2000
  • Durham County Fitness Advocate Award, 1999
  • Environmental Champion presented by Sunshares, Inc., 1998
  • Business Leader Impact 100 List, 1999
  • Durham Technical Community College Friend of the College Award, 1993
  • Graduate, 1989, Greater Durham Chamber of Commerce Leadership Program

Civic Activities

  • League of Women Voters of Orange, Durham and Chatham Counties
  • Downtown Durham Rotary Club
  • Tutor, YE Smith Elementary School