Harris County Commissioner Rodney Ellis was born and raised in Houston’s Sunnyside neighborhood. The proud son of a yardman and a maid, Ellis attended Texas public schools from grade school through law school. He holds a bachelor's degree from Texas Southern University, a master's degree from the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, and a law degree from the University of Texas School of Law.
Commissioner Ellis believes the role of government is to guarantee that everyone has the opportunity and ability to build a better future for themselves. He currently represents the diverse communities of Harris County Precinct One and is committed to delivering responsive public services that improve quality of life for his constituents while advocating for policies that advance fair opportunity and equal justice for all people.
His top Precinct One priorities include developing inclusive economic growth policies that lift up all communities; increasing access to parks and greenspace in underserved neighborhoods; implementing a mobility plan that connects families to safe, affordable transportation options; and advancing criminal justice reforms that protect the rights of all people while making our communities safer. Following Hurricane Harvey, Commissioner successfully advocated for equitable future investments in flood control infrastructure and disaster recovery in vulnerable and long-neglected communities. He remains committed to fostering true resiliency in communities throughout Precinct One through dynamic programming at Precinct One community centers and innovative policy initiatives.
Commissioner Ellis began his career as a public servant working as Chief of Staff for the late Congressman Mickey Leland and served 3 terms on the Houston City Council before joining the Texas Senate, where he served for more than 25 years before being elected to his current position as Harris County Commissioner in 2016. During his tenure in the Texas Senate, he successfully passed more than 630 pieces of legislation championing criminal justice reform, civil rights, education, health care, economic opportunity, fair elections and many other vital issues impacting underserved communities.
A passionate advocate for criminal justice reform, Commissioner Ellis chaired the Board of Directors for the Innocence Project from 2003 to 2017, and is a member of the Founders’ Circle for the national group. Commissioner Ellis also sits on the advisory board of the Quattrone Center for the Fair Administration of Justice at the University of Pennsylvania Law School and serves on the LBJ Foundation Board of Trustees. In 2018, Commissioner Ellis was elected to serve as President of the National Association of Black County Officials (NABCO). He is also a member of the advisory council for Own Our Vote, which works to ensure that every eligible high school senior is registered to vote in Texas.
He is an avid art collector and cycling enthusiast. Commissioner Ellis is married to Licia Green-Ellis and has four children.