Office of Alumni Relations

The latest news from Virginia Commonwealth University

Ellen Motley (B.S.’86/MC), a northern Virginia native, now lives in Rockville, Maryland, with her husband and dog, Smokey. Now an empty-nester, she has four adult children, her youngest a senior in college. Ellen is crime-show junkie, an avid reader and proud steward of a Little Free Library. 

Q. What was your major?

A. Mass communications with a concentration and advertising. I graduated in 1986.

Q. What field do you work in now, and what’s your role?

A. I’ve been in the nonprofit sector for more than a decade and am currently at the Center for Adoption, Support and Education. I’m the executive assistant to the CEO. The job title doesn’t necessarily reflect my education or experience, but I’m using all the skills I learned.

Q. Why did you get involved with the alumni chapter? How long have you been involved?

A. I started by going to basketball watch parties with two friends. The three of us always did something together. Then we realized there was a group called DMV GOLD [a previous name for the chapter].  It was really supposed to be for graduates of the past 10 years, but I was like, “What are they gonna do, throw out the old people?” So we would just go to the events anyhow. And then it was more than basketball, with other events. It just kind of grew from there.

Q. What has been your favorite chapter event?

The pregame event for the Rams-George Washington University basketball game is always a good one. One thing that’s nice about basketball is that every age can enjoy it. There are people older than me, there are people younger — so there’s just a great vibe.

Q. Do you have any advice for alumni moving to the DMV area?

A. The DMV is smaller than it appears. Geographically, it seems like it’s so big, but to be honest, most of us cross the bridge to go to a different state or D.C. every day. If you can get out of the mindset of “I live in Maryland, I’m not going to Virginia” or “I live in Virginia, I’m not going to Maryland or D.C.,” there really are a lot of opportunities. It’s really not as big and scary as it seems.

Q. Any recommendations for newcomers about attractions and places to go out?

A. If you like tennis, the Citi Open happens in late July-early August. It’s very hot, but it’s a great event. If you like Irish music or just like to have a good time, there are a number of Irish festivals in the area. There are so many museums here — it can be easy to take them for granted because you live so close, but it’s worth making an effort to go downtown, and there are new ones coming up. Some are free, but some that charge admission are worth the money.

And there are so many opportunities for outdoor adventure, such as Great Falls park and Rock Creek Park in D.C. If you’re into the Nats (Washington Nationals baseball team) or Caps (Washington Capitols hockey team) or the Wizards basketball team, you can’t beat going to one of those games. And there’s POV, a rooftop bar near the White House; the drinks are pricey, but it’s a view like no other.

Categories Alumni