Ellen Cappellanti places a high priority on raising others up
Morgantown native Ellen Cappellanti is known for her distinguished career as a commercial lawyer with Jackson Kelly in areas ranging from commercial lending to bankruptcy to real estate development. In 2015, she became managing member of the firm, which now spans 10 offices in six states and the District of Columbia.
Cappellanti has always volunteered generously, lending her time and expertise over the decades to organizations that include the Discover the Real West Virginia Foundation, the Clay Center for the Arts & Sciences, and the YWCA of Charleston. She also served on the WVU Board of Governors from 2007 to 2016.
As she grew in her career and in her stature in the state, Cappellanti has made it a priority to mentor others. “It’s very important for women to see other women in leadership positions,” she told WV Living when we named her a Wonder Woman in 2014. “There have been a number of folks who have reached out to me and talked about joining our firm because of our female leadership. I’ve always been well-mentored, and I want to pay that forward.”
For her big-hearted support for others who are forging their own paths in the law, we award Cappellanti our first WV Living Wonder Women Justice League Award for Mentorship.
We spoke with several of the many women she’s helped and inspired over the years.
“Ms. Cappellanti has taken me under her wing and shared her expansive knowledge of the commercial lending and bankruptcy practice areas and the legal profession in general,” says Nicole Johns Barker, who has been at Jackson Kelly for five years. “I have grown much more quickly as an attorney due to her unwavering support. She reflects confidence in everything she does, and that confidence is contagious for young attorneys like myself. Her encouragement empowers me to believe in myself and to strive to be as passionate as she is for our clients, our community, our state, and our profession. It is apparent that Ms. Cappellanti enjoys mentoring attorneys, so not only do I reap the benefits of her knowledge and expertise—she makes practicing law alongside her enjoyable.”
“I am always impressed by Ms. Cappellanti’s ability to combine management of the law firm with the practice of law,” says Elizabeth Elmore, who has been with Jackson Kelly since 2014. “She makes herself available to offer input on projects without micromanaging, which allows for growth of the attorneys working with her. In addition, she is a warm and compassionate woman who cares deeply about the attorneys and staff with whom she works. She is most deserving of this award!”
“The key lesson I’ve attributed to Ellen is to ’speak up,’” says Jessica Alsop, who met Cappellanti as a summer clerk at Jackson Kelly in 2000, worked closely with her as an attorney at the firm, and now serves as vice president and general counsel at WVU Health System. “She taught me through very direct words that, if you have something to say or a question to ask, you have to speak up for yourself. If you are in the room, you have something to contribute and shouldn’t shy away from that responsibility. Other lessons I learned from Ellen are that there are very few things that cannot be fixed—as long as you speak up and proactively address it—and that there are very few problems that cannot be solved.”