Ely Portillo joins Urban Institute outreach team

Will oversee the institute’s online engagement

The UNC Charlotte Urban Institute is excited to announce that Ely Portillo, longtime reporter for The Charlotte Observer, will join the institute as Assistant Director for Outreach & Strategic Partnerships, beginning April 15.  He will oversee the institute’s online engagement activities, including its coverage of regional policy issues and the dissemination of research findings.

A 2009 graduate of Harvard University, Ely has worked at the Observer for the past decade, where he started as a police reporter covering crime, breaking news and the story of a five-legged puppy from Gastonia.  He then moved to the business desk, where he was the paper’s Growth and Development reporter for many years. He covered Charlotte’s Fortune 500 companies, the city’s airport, growth, transit and growing pains.

Most recently, Ely has worked on the Metro desk as a Government Reporter, covering local and state politics.  During that period, Ely developed a deep understanding of the policy issues affecting the Charlotte region, writing extensively about topics as diverse as transportation, real estate and the impacts of growth on Charlotte’s neighborhoods.

“I’m excited to join the gifted team at the UNC Charlotte Urban Institute,” Ely said. “The issues that they study are the issues that get to the heart of what growth means for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg region, and how we can work together to improve this region for everyone.”

Highly regarded for the quality of his reporting, Ely received first place awards in 2016 from both the McClatchy Company (its President’s Award for “most outstanding coverage”) and the Society of American Business Editors and Writers.  He is a frequent guest on local and national media broadcasts (both radio and television), as well as numerous podcasts and panel discussions.

“We are thrilled to add someone as talented and familiar with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg region as Ely to our outreach team here at the institute,” said Ashley Clark, the institute’s Director of Outreach & Strategic Partnerships. 

“The institute made a commitment nearly ten years ago to enhance our online presence as a means of providing thoughtful content on regional policy issues,” she said.  “At the time, we brought on a highly respected journalist, Mary Newsom, who laid a great foundation for the Institute until her retirement this past fall.  We‘re confident that Ely will continue to build on Mary’s strong journalistic foundation and help us connect our research to an even broader and more diverse audience.”