Jill Ellis

Two-Time FIFA World Cup Championship Coach
Chubb Fellow: 
2022 to 2023

The Head of Timothy Dwight College, Mary Lui, has announced Two-Time FIFA World Cup Championship Coach Jill Ellis as the Chubb Fellow for Fall 2022 semester.  Ms. Ellis was scheduled to serve as the Chubb Fellow in 2020, but the event was postponed when the Yale campus was closed due to COVID-19.

HoC Lui will interview Ms. Ellis on October 12th at 4:00pm in Sheffield-Sterling-Strathcona Hall Auditorium (Room 114), One Prospect Street, New Haven. Doors open at 3:30pm for seating.

The winningest coach in U.S. Soccer history and the President of the San Diego Wave, Jill Ellis remains committed to teaching improvement both on and off the field – through constant adaptation, lessons in leadership, and the fight for equality.

Jill Ellis has acquired both grit and wisdom during her years working at the highest level of sport. But the lesson that continues to resonate is the one that applies on a universal scale.

“I don’t care if you’re a CEO leading a Fortune 500 company, an English professor teaching a class, or you’re a coach, you must connect with people, instill confidence and find ways to motivate them,” Ellis says.

Ellis’s skill in finding common ground with those around her has been paramount in her role as head coach of the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team and former development director of the United States Soccer Federation.

A native of England, Ellis was a decorated soccer player at the College of William & Mary before embarking on a coaching career, with successful stops as the head coach at the University of Illinois and UCLA. She was assistant coach for the gold-medal-winning U.S. Olympic Team at the 2008 Beijing and 2012 London Games, and was named Director of Youth National Teams, United States Soccer Federation, in 2011.

After joining the U.S. Women’s National Team in 2014 as head coach, she led the team just 13 months later to the Women’s World Cup Final, and the Championship. In 2019, she became only the second coach ever to win consecutive World Cup Championships when under her leadership, the team claimed the title again. With 106 wins, 19 draws and just 7 losses, she finished her career as the most successful coach in U.S. Soccer history.

Winning, however, is not the sole focus of Ellis’ leadership strategy. Instead, it is about building and maintaining relationships that will make people want to do their best – whether it’s on the field, at the office, in the classroom or the board room.  Jill is currently utilizing her exceptional skill and winning strategies to lead the newly-established San Diego franchise of the National Women’s Soccer League that will begin competing in 2022.

“Leadership now is about connecting – about that human touch,” she says. “It’s the human element of leadership that matters most.  I love the challenge of maximizing individual performance while achieving team goals.”

“Be Bold” is a statement at the core of Ellis’ philosophy. She encourages confidence, courageousness, and risk-taking –traits that she believes work no matter your playing field. As a woman in a male-dominated arena, boldness has paid dividends for Ellis, and it’s a message that she wants to spread to other women in leadership positions.

Ellis has, at times, taken a step back to move forward in her career. And those challenges, along with constant adaptation and self-reflection, have been instrumental in shaping her coaching strategy and leadership qualities of confidence and perseverance. However, her most recent career move to the C-Suite of the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) San Diego is a bold move step forward and will challenge her in new and exciting ways.   She wants to do more, achieve more as a leader and make an impact in the sports business world. 

Ellis also is a fierce advocate for gender equity, particularly when it comes to the pay disparity between male and female athletes.  The vision Ellis and owner Ron Burkle have for NWSL San Diego is to hire an all-female executive and coaching staff—believed to be the first in pro sports history.  “Being able to open doors for others, that’s just a really good space to be in – to really help them pursue their dreams, and in doing so, provide role models for the next generation.”

Authentically stressing her need to continually learn and adapt, Ellis details the motivational tools necessary to push people beyond their expectations. “You don’t dwell long on what you’ve accomplished,” she says. “It’s which mountain is next to climb.”

The Chubb Fellowship was founded with a gift from Yale alumnus Hendon Chubb, and since 1949 has been one of Yale’s most prestigious honors conferred on visiting speakers. The head of college of Timothy Dwight College, currently Mary Lui, administers the fellowship, which is devoted to encouraging interest in public service. Chubb Fellows spend their time at Yale in close, informal contact with students and make an appearance open to the public. Former Chubb Fellows include Presidents George H.W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter, and Harry Truman; authors Wendell Berry and Toni Morrison; actors Morgan Freeman and Shah Rukh Khan; world leaders Aung San Suu Kyi and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf; journalist Nicholas Kristoff; and many other nationally and internationally prominent citizens and leaders.

The 2022 Fall Chubb Fellowship event has been made possible with the support of Yale Director of Athletics, Vicky Chun and the Yale Athletics staff.

Contact KC Mills, Associate Chubb Fellow 203-909-0545 or chubb.fellowship@yale.edu with questions or requests for additional information.