Ellen Piligian

Detroit, MI USA
Website: http://www.linkedin.com/in/ellenpiligian

Professional Experience

My natural curiosity and love for storytelling led me to a career in journalism. I interviewed the two mothers who exposed the Flint Water Crisis in 2016; profiled actor Jeff Daniels; an all-mom rock group for People magazine. I profiled a Pistol Packing Preacher for Reader's Digest and Olympic athletes for sports pubs. I've covered teen and sports topics, attorneys and health issues, life, death and caregiving. Former editor of a Detroit woman's magazine. I have bylines in: Detroit Free Press, People magazine, Detroit News, Crain's Detroit Business, International Figure Skating, Scholastic/Weekly Reader teen pubs, Reader's Digest, New York Times, Teen People, Delta Sky, Air Tran Airlines Go magazine, Model D, The Metro Times, etc. Graduate of Columbia University's Journalism School. Special interest in creative types, social issues, underdogs, medicine/science/healthcare and end of life issues. More info on me and my influences in "Other Work History" and "Other Information."


Content Editor (online)
10 Years
15 Years
15 Years


Arts & Humanities
8 Years
15 Years
15 Years


Magazine - Large Consumer/National magazines
10 Years
Magazine - Local/Regional magazines
15 Years
Online/new media
10 Years

Total Media Industry Experience

20 Years

Media Client List (# assignments last 2 yrs)

Crains/Detroit Make It Here (10+), International Figure Skating (10+), People magazine (10+), Air Tran Airlines Go magazine (6-10), Detroit Free Press (6-10), Model D (3-5), New York Times (3-5)

Other Work History

I worked at a local sports magazine as features editor and have done stories for a number of local publications; I've written about the arts and other things for the Metro Times, Detroit's alternative newsweekly; I have also done stringing for Time magazine and some stringing for the NYT's national desk. I wrote copy for the University of Michgan's patient portal for the Cardiovascular Center to provide information on medical issues in easy to understand terms. I also worked in the digital creative division of JWT, now Team Detroit. Also: Attended 2007 SPJ Narrative Writing and Reporting workshop taught by Tom Hallman of The Oregonian. I contributed to the book "Hub Histories, Great Stories from Boston" (interviews with Team Hoyt, Eliza Dushku, Michael Tarshi). I've also continued my education through classes by the Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism and Media Bistro.

Technical Skills

I use both a traditional SLR and digital SLR camera. I have some experience in video production/documentary film making. I'm proficient in working on web content and understand areas of information architecture and producing content with the the use of animated gif's and Flash, sound and video, etc.

Foreign Language Skills

Some Spanish.

Computer Skills

Word, Excel, Quark, InDesign, Photoshop, Mac OSX, some HTML.


Laptop; I have done photography for some of my stories. I own several audio recording devices for interviews. I also have an iPhone 6 and digital and film SLRs.


Available upon request.


Co-President of the Columbia University Alumni Club of Michigan; Past Board member of the national Columbia Alumni Association (New York City); Past Board member of Detroit Focus, a nonprofit arts organization; Past Detroit host with Media Bistro; Volunteer with Gift of Life as an organ donor - usually talk to school kids about my experience



A look at the kit homes around Detroit and the housing trend from the early 1900s when people ordered homes by catalog and got everything from lumber and plumbing to windows and kegs of nails in boxes that arrived by rail car.
Detroit area natives Lisa Klein and Doug Blush tackle the topic of suicide for this documentary, inspired by Klein’s experience of losing two family members this way.
Interview with Detroit documentary filmmaker Nicole Macdonald about her newest film, which explores the past and future of the city’s infamous Cass Corridor.
My choice to be a caregiver and advocate for my parents when they needed me most, something Americans are facing more and more as our population grows older.
Two Michigan moms lead the fight to uncover how their city exposed their children — and the entire community — to a contaminated water supply.
Reported much of this story for this People Exclusive, including the mom who broke the story open, LeeAnne Walters; another activist mom Melissa Mays, single mom Flint Darlene Bello; ACLU investigative reporter Curt Guyette; on the ground reporting in Flint while working with videographer/photographer for this package which included a few online pieces, including this one, plus a magazine article/package out Jan. 29, 2016. ANOTHER ONLINE PIECE: How Sick Are the Kids in Flint? Inside the Shocking Health Effects of the Devastating Water Crisis http://www.people.com/article/outcome-lead-poisoning-flint-michigan-water-crisis
A personal essay giving thanks for being able to be there for my parents at a time when they needed me most.
Detroit novelist Michael Zadoorian's third novel and fourth book hit stands May 1 on the heels of the film version of his 2009 novel, "The Leisure Seeker" in March. The author talks about getting his head around his recent success and adjusting to the spotlight when it was nothing he ever dreamed of.
A research expedition working with orangutans in Borneo with primatologist Dr. Birute Galdikas was the trip of a lifetime, thanks to my mother, an early adopter of what are now known as eco-tours.
Drew Philp always wanted to write. But growing in the rural blue-collar town of Adrian, the son of a machinist father and English teacher mother, he says it never even crossed his mind that he could actually do it for a living. With the purchase of a $500 house in Detroit, and the process he took to rehab it himself, Philp found himself not only with a career as a journalist writing about the experience, but a book deal.
Dying of ALS, a 40-year-old Michigan mother of two fights to make her final days meaningful.
Michigan Notable Books 2018: Six winners talk about the award and their work From books about the Great Lakes to a little known history of slavery in colonial Detroit, from breweries in Michigan to poetry about shipwrecks...
Deneane Chiplock's other battle: In-home nursing care. (Side bar to story of a Michigan's woman dying of ALS fights to make her final days meaningful.)
Profile of best selling author Doug Stanton whose latest book, The Odyssey of Echo Company, follows a small platoon in the days after the Tet Offensive in Vietnam while his second book, Horse Soldiers, about U.S. soldiers who fought via horseback in Afghanistan, is about to hit the big screen in January
Author Doug Stanton and his journalist wife Anne founded the NWS after Doug discovered too few opportunists to authors to meet their readers. Now it’s growing to include scholarships and writing workshops for you youth while attracting top writers to the northern Michigan town.
Carol Anderson discusses her life and memoir that explores issues of growing up gay in a time when it's not very acceptable especially in her own home, how the feminist movement influenced her and how her mother became her biggest champion
Chris Bouldin rescues Felix, a special needs kitten with cerebellar hypoplasia from her post in Afghanistan in 2008. She finds Felix also rescues her.
Chris Van Allsburg discusses the new film based on his classic book as well as growing up Michigan and what it's like writing books for kids
Personal Health: Why Is Big Tobacco Taking Stock in E-Cigarettes? It's the wild, wild west for the tobacco industry once again.
Jeff Daniels talks about why he chooses Chelsea, Mich. over life in LA.
Large spread in Delta Sky's February issue covering all things Detroit. I focused on the lifestyle and tourism in the city and region, from "Doers" in the restaurant biz to top cultural attractions and hospitality. See my stories on pages 108-125.
Nonprofit Reclaim Detroit has dismantled old homes in the city, salvaging the wood, fixtures, bricks and even doorknobs for new projects, as well as helped teach construction skills to city residents. But ever since a devastating fire destroyed much of its equipment last February, ReClaim Detroit’s biggest challenge has been salvaging itself.
Historic buildings in Detroit getting new life with the help of historic tax credits and where these incentives can be used going forward.
Reported on missing soldier Pvt. Byron W. Fouty, 19, of Waterford, Mich., near Detroit, after ambush attack in Iraq.
New story of ex-employee shooting at accounting firm.
Angela Flournoy's debut novel, "The Turner House," is set in Detroit where her father grew up. The intergenerational family saga focuses on what happens when 13 adult children come together after their father dies and their mother has to move in with the eldest son, leaving their longtime home suddenly vacant amid abandoned lots and worth just a tenth of its mortgage. The book has earned many honors, including being a finalist for the National Book Award and being named a New York Times Notable Book of the Year.
The Amazing Acro-Cats CEH (chief executive human) and animal trainer Samantha Martin tours the country up to nine months a year in a full-size tour bus she shares with a merry band of trained cats plus a few fosters — all rescues — who do circus acts and play in the world's only feline band, which also includes a groundhog from her zookeeper days and chicken named Cluck Norris. Best of all? The cats often don't follow her direction.
Stunned and mournful fans and suicide prevention experts gather Friday night in Detroit for vigil for Chris Cornell, lead singer of Soundgarden who committed suicide after his performance two nights earlier at Detroit's Fox Theatre.
When Austen Brantley took a ceramics class in high school as an easy class to boost his GPA, he discovered a life-changing passion for art.
L.A. based journalist Liana Aghajanian bested more than 200 writers to win a rehabbed house in Detroit.
Profile of Mitch Albom's "Albom in the Afternoon" radio show producer.
Interview with author Robin Gaines about her debut novel.
America's Energy Madness-We're Banning Solar Panels, But Many Towns Can't Regulate Fracking When it comes to state and local politics, the oil industry is much more powerful than green energy.
Exploring Hamtramck's Bangladeshi community.
Sarab Neelam, a Sikh doctor with a lifelong passion for film, directs his first feature film, a semi-autobiographical tale of a Sikh doctor trying to fit while bucking a health care system he doesn't understand.
Reported on Kevorkian's release from prison.
After a 35-year hiatus and a career in education, Judy Bowman realizes her childhood dream of being an artist with no regrets of time lost: “Everything has led to this particular point." From being in Atlanta during the civil rights movement to being commissioned to create art for the newly formed MLK library in the 1970s to her work with children, Bowman brings it all together in her vibrant 2D mixed media collages. She sees herself as a recorder of her history but mostly, she says of her work: “It’s a celebration of black life... I want people to say: I remember those happy times.”
In honor of National Organ Donor Month, I share my experience of giving a kidney to my mother, and wishing I could do the same for my father.
Cranbrook Cranbrook Academy of Art student chair design show.
Profile of Detroit filmmaker Carrie LeZotte.
When to speak up in the face of prejudice? For Current Health 2, a publication for high school students.
Ten things to know about the 18th annual Arts, Beats & Eats festival in downtown Royal Oak over Labor Day weekend.
Souren Aprahamian, 97, is one of the few survivors of the Armenian Genocide of 1915-16
Straight and LGBT teens reach out to one another. For Current Health 2, a magazine for high school students.
The nonprofit organization strives to stabilize Detroit neighborhoods while encouraging literary culture.
Nonprofit Reclaim Detroit has dismantled old homes in the city, salvaging the wood, fixtures, bricks and even doorknobs for new projects, as well as helped teach construction skills to city residents. But ever since a devastating fire destroyed much of its equipment last February, ReClaim Detroit’s biggest challenge has been salvaging itself.
Careers in public health, from a disease detective (epidemiologist) at the CDC to policy makers.
When journalist Amy Haimerl and her husband declared Detroit their home in 2013, they didn’t come for family or friends or even a job. Put simply, they fell in love — with the city and a vacant 1914 Geogian Revival home in need of plumbing, heat and electricity. In her memoir on the journey of restoring the home, Haimerl also learned about her new community and herself.
A couple uncorks Artifacry in Corktown. (page 19)
Gwyneth Paltrow Told Kids After Chris Martin Split: 'You Know What's Real and How Much We Love You'
Reported for the Advertising Column on Chevrolet's new ad campaign.
17 years in the making, local photographer's self-published book of images from Sri Lanka sees light of day
This veteran fashion designer got a career boost as a contestant on Project Runway. Now Joe Faris is loving being home in Detroit, where he's based his Industrial Couture Motor City Denim line and hopes to see the city reinvent itself as a garment district.
Q&A with author Christopher Hebert about his new novel set in Detroit.
When An Dinh's wife tells him she's gay, the two find their own version of happily ever after—and it’s all on film.
Profile of Detroit percussionist Mark Sawasky.
Profile of attorney Richard Victor.
Contributing reporter to story about 2008 Republican VP nominee Sarah Palin, getting views of Michigan women.
Researchers have some counterarguments to the idea of urban farming as a panacea.
Online version of longer story in magazine about Ben Affleck filming in Detroit amid rumors of gambling at area casinos.
Muffy Kroha, visual manager of Neiman Marcus, should star in a reality show -- she even amuses herself. "I have this stock of stories I can tell," Kroha says. "I actually repeat them to myself because I can't believe they're true. They still make me laugh or cry or both."
GM executive Lori Robins discovers true love... with her pet dog.
Keefe A. Brooks stays calm in the courtroom.
Mom prepares for empty nest.
Artists working away from their homelands.
Contributed to feature on holiday memories and traditions of Michigan celebrities. I interviewed poet/writer Jim Harrison, actor Jeff Daniels (p. 126-127) and comedian Dave Coulier (p. 132).
Who Said Motherhood Was All Sippy Cups, Soccer Games and Car Pools? Fed Up with the Suburban Routine, These Women Pumped Up the Volume
Interview with Detroit author Jack Cheng whose second book, and debut middle grade novel, "See You in the Cosmos," made its national debut Feb. 28. It's the story of 11-year-old Alex, who dreams of launching his golden iPod into space just as Sagan launched his Golden Record on the Voyager spacecraft in 1977. Like Sagan, Alex fills the iPod with sounds of life on earth using his own voice as narrator. Those transcriptions are the story, which include his journeys from his Colorado home to the southwest and beyond and the people he meets and lessons he learns along the way.
What it takes to get young creative talent to Detroit, and profiles on six who took the chance: Joel Frost, Johnathan Nelson, Mathew Praveen, Mansi Trivedi, Detavio Samuels, Anthony Davis, PLUS: tips on recruiting.
Carolyn Forché is one of two poets to win $165,000 through Yale University’s 2017 Windham-Campbell Prize — the first year poetry was included in the program’s five-year history. A professor of English and director of the Lannan Center for Poetics and Social Practice at Georgetown University, Forché amassed a rich and lauded body of work as a poet, editor and translator. She also has a 30-year-history as a human rights activist around the globe. The author of four award-winning collections of poetry, she’s finishing her fifth collection. She's written about loss and death, mourning and remembrance, as well as the refugee crisis in the Aegean Sea, the Holocaust and the Salvadoran civil war. She reflects on her career as well as her years in Detroit and its suburbs through high school and later as a student at Michigan State University.
Detroit filmmakers are creating episodic shorts. For some it's a proving grounds to their ultimate goal of making feature films. Among the series: "In Zero", "Ced n Terri", "Terra", "New Directions", "The Other Universe"
Mosaic Youth Theatre sculpts Detroit's future performers.
The fourth annual Detroit Design Festival, a celebration of Detroit's design community, gets into full swing Tuesday with events ranging from studio tours to panel discussions, block parties to a workshop on creating comics.
Raw food chef and new business owner Amber Poupore is on a mission to spread the health at her small downtown eatery
Winner of the 2011 Arts and Letters Award in Architecture and head of Cranbrook's architecture department, Bill Massie talks about his craft, the challenges, how he handles clients and what students should expect going into this career.
Tawny Thieu, a 30-year-old entrepreneur juggling four Detroit-area Pink Pump shoe and fashion retail locations, sees only good things going forward. Here long goal? Making Pink Pump a nationally recognized brand.
A documentary film I collaborated on for a class at the Detroit Film Center in 2007. It's about an inner city bike shop that takes in and fixes bikes to enable residents with transportation. They also teach skills to volunteer workers. Find out more at: http://thehubofdetroit.org/
Designer, inventor, entrepreneur and educator, Scott Klinker, who heads Cranbrook Academy of Art's graduate 3D design program, talks about inspiration, electric guitars, his new furniture collection and what keeps him in Detroit.
Profile of one avid Detroiter.
Profile on defense attorney and high profile corporate litigator Joseph Aviv.
Monthly guide to thing to see and do in Detroit and beyond.
Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy may be one of the most powerful people in Detroit, but with her daughter Anastasia, she's just another skating mom.
Artist and model Gwen Joy talks about her multifaceted career, including making her Joy Toys (half human half animal fantasy dolls), selling cigarettes and being a brand ambassador for big name companies. She also shares other stuff, like how she got married by a half-Hispanic Elvis impersonator.
Poet laureate, professor and literary activist M.L. Liebler pays homage to his working class roots in "Working Words: Punching the Clock and Kicking Out the Jams," an anthology of voices including poets, rock stars, filmmakers, activists, novelists and historians all talking about the daily grind.
Michael Moore Says the President Lied to America. But Does His Movie Play Fair?
MOCAD, Detroit's first museum of contemporary art, has high hopes for its future as it moves forward under the direction of Luis Croquer.
Interview with Detroit filmmaker whose intimate portraying of her city is in the Ann Arbor Film Festival.
The life and works of an artist from Albania.
Tom Helland, design director for Organic Inc., is a doodler and his work is far from scribbles. The government of Alberta, Can., actually paid $6,500 for his doodle art.
Q&A with jewelry designer Marlaina Stone, who is making her mark in the fashion world with her high-end handcrafted necklaces, bracelets and rings that you have to have some moxie to wear.
Profile on one of Michigan's top employment attorneys.
Melanie Derro talks about going from pre-med to a career in graphic design and what she loves most about living and working in Detroit despite the economy.
Interview Organic, Inc. Creative Director Kevin McElroy.
Touched by the Fate of Unidentified Murder Victims, a Few Crusaders Refuse to Let Jane Does Be Forgotten—Or Unloved
Detroit travel story for the in-flight magazine of Southwest Airline: Spirit magazine
A guide to some of Detroit's best: including what do see, what to eat and where to stay.
Thanks to Michigan’s new film incentive, Hollywood heavyweights like Clint Eastwood are setting their sights on Detroit. (NOTE: If you click the URL you may need to enable pop-up windows to view the story.)
Interview with Detroit film and entertainment scene Renaissance Man Ed Gardiner.
Launching a business as a costume designer is probably not the obvious career choice you'd expect from a former trauma nurse. But for Couni Young, founder of Go Go Wardrobe Pro, it's not so far-fetched.
Preview of Detroit's 11th Annual Winter Blast.
Interview with fashion designer Joe Faris of Motor City Denim.
With a New Arsenal of Web Sites and Chat Rooms, Mean Kids Can Torment Their Victims 24/7 Online—often with Devastating Results
Interview with an historic preservationist.
Risking Her Job, Coleen Rowley Accuses Her FBI Bosses of Ignoring Key 9/11 Clues
Q&A with Team Detroit's Toby Barlow.
Karen Swanson, co-owner of Swanson Meads Architects, comes from a family of internationally renowned architects, but she has proved to be more than a mere legacy. She is the great-granddaughter of internationally renowned Finnish architect Eliel Saarinen and great-niece to his son, Eero Saarinen, wh
Worked on copy for B&P for several vehicles in this line.
Worked on copy for B&P for several vehicles in this line.
Interview with author Michael Zadoorian.
You've got to love quotes you get from new/young bands, like this one: Newcomer Lilac Lungs, a local pop group with rock and punk influences, opens for Our Lady Peace on Saturday. It’s a nice break for the band, which was launched just six months ago by lead guitarist John Birrell and his singer-keyboard player girlfriend Emily Torres. So how did it happen? “Some luck,” Birrell says. Also, “just “generally being kind people and making connections. ... You can’t be jerks.”
Q&A with Tom Berlucchi may be Historic Ft. Wayne's worst PR man when it comes to their Tours After Dark series — which distinctly appeals to ghost hunters and fans of paranormal. "I’ll be first to admit it. I don’t believe in ghosts. I have not been slimed,” he says.
Madonna at the Traverse City Film Festival.
The growing trend of pickleball is more than a senior sport — in fact, it’s getting back to its roots as a game for youth.
Hair salons and barbershops are cropping up in Oakland County faster than any other business it seems. What gives?
A roundup of the annual Michigan Notable Books list and interviews with a few of the authors.
A roundup of the annual Michigan Notable Books list and interviews with a few of the authors.
Renting rooms or homes to medical students is often a good bet for homeowners with space available.
High rental rates are no problem for some people looking luxury without the hassle of homeownership.
Ex-senator reflects on his life and career in new memoir. https://www.freep.com/restricted/?return=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.freep.com%2Fstory%2Fentertainment%2F2021%2F03%2F07%2Fcarl-levin-book-memoir-cancer%2F6889702002%2F
Dante Williams made money cutting hair as a kid in his basement. Now he owns Cutz Lounge: The Grooming Shop in Detroit. He survived Covid and now looks to ways to give back to his community.
After nearly 20 years in business, Jason Johnson had been through a lot since opening Bob’s Classic Kicks in Midtown Detroit, long before the city’s recent comeback. Then Covid-19 hit.
People at the polls share thoughts about the 2020 Election. My reporting is in Michigan.
Author-entrepreneur Josh Linkner says COVID-19 has inspired an overdue wave of innovation. The bestselling author shares what he’s learned about creativity and everyday innovation for everyday people in his new book, Big Little Breakthroughs.
Two first time novelists self-publish “The Dockporter,” a story based on their years peddling luggage from ferry to hotels as dockporters on Mackinac Island in the 1980s.
Interview and Q&A with Jeff Hupp and Chris Plum, aka the Blunk Brothers, of the music house Blunk Street Music