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 most love doing profiles. I interviewed the two mothers who exposed the Flint Water Crisis in 2016; profiled actor Jeff Daniels; and the all-mom rock group the Mydols for People magazine. I profiled a Pistol Packing Preacher for Reader's Digest and Olympic athletes for a sports pub. I've covered teen topics and sports figures, attorneys and entertainers. I have a special interest in creative types, healthcare and end of life issues. Currently an independent journalist. I was also editor of a Detroit woman's magazine. See "Other Work History" and "Other Information" for more on me and my influences. Follow me on Twitter at @ellen313 and check out my blog, Only The Half Of It, at http://thehalfofit.blogspot.com.


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)

Crain\\\\\\\'s/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)

Corporate Client List (# assignments last 2 yrs)

University of Michigan Health System (3-5), Team Detroit (1-2)

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 worked in the digital creative division of JWT. 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

Work Samples


(People magazine 1/27/2016)
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
(Model D 3/31/2009)
Profile of Detroit filmmaker Carrie LeZotte.
(Detroit Free Press 9/4/2015)
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.
(Twist/Detroit Free Press 3/2/2008)
(Model D 10/27/2008)
Exploring Hamtramck's Bangladeshi community.
(People magazine 2/8/2016)
Two Michigan moms lead the fight to uncover how their city exposed their children — and the entire community — to a contaminated water supply.
(AlterNet 5/16/2014)
Personal Health: Why Is Big Tobacco Taking Stock in E-Cigarettes? It's the wild, wild west for the tobacco industry once again.
(Delta Sky magazine 2/1/2011)
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.
(Detroit Free Press 9/3/2015)
Ten things to know about the 18th annual Arts, Beats & Eats festival in downtown Royal Oak over Labor Day weekend.
(Detroit Free Press 5/15/2016)
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.
(People magazine 12/19/2005)
Jeff Daniels talks about why he chooses Chelsea, Mich. over life in LA.
(Metromode 8/6/2009)
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.
(New York Times 4/10/2007)
New story of ex-employee shooting at accounting firm.
(New York Times 5/25/2007)
Reported on missing soldier Pvt. Byron W. Fouty, 19, of Waterford, Mich., near Detroit, after ambush attack in Iraq.
(New York Times 6/2/2007)
Reported on Kevorkian's release from prison.
(Crain's Detroit Business 11/16/2015)
Historic buildings in Detroit getting new life with the help of historic tax credits and where these incentives can be used going forward.
(People magazine 11/11/2015)
Chris Bouldin rescues Felix, a special needs kitten with cerebellar hypoplasia from her post in Afghanistan in 2008. She finds Felix also rescues her.
(The Good Men Project 11/28/2013)
A personal essay giving thanks for being able to be there for my parents at a time when they needed me most.
(Metro Times Detroit 4/14/2004)
Cranbrook Cranbrook Academy of Art student chair design show.
(Detroit Free Press 2/1/2005)
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.)
(Detroit Metropolitan Woman 7/1/1997)
Profile of Mitch Albom's "Albom in the Afternoon" radio show producer.
(Current Health 2, Weekly Reader 12/1/2006)
When to speak up in the face of prejudice? For Current Health 2, a publication for high school students.
(Crain's/Detroit Make It Here 5/16/2012)
17 years in the making, local photographer's self-published book of images from Sri Lanka sees light of day
(Detroit Free Press 10/2/2015)
L.A. based journalist Liana Aghajanian bested more than 200 writers to win a rehabbed house in Detroit.
(Crain's/Detroit Make It Here 1/6/2011)
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.
(Detroit News 5/18/2005)
Souren Aprahamian, 97, is one of the few survivors of the Armenian Genocide of 1915-16
(Current Health 2, Weekly Reader 12/1/2006)
Straight and LGBT teens reach out to one another. For Current Health 2, a magazine for high school students.
(Detroit Free Press 10/1/2015)
The nonprofit organization strives to stabilize Detroit neighborhoods while encouraging literary culture.
(Hour Detroit Home 10/1/2015)
A couple uncorks Artifacry in Corktown. (page 19)
(Superlawyers 9/15/2008)
Profile of attorney Richard Victor.
(People magazine 7/17/2015)
Gwyneth Paltrow Told Kids After Chris Martin Split: 'You Know What's Real and How Much We Love You'
(University of Chicago Magazine 10/1/2008)
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.
(AlterNet 6/16/2014)
Researchers have some counterarguments to the idea of urban farming as a panacea.
(Career World, Weekly Reader 3/1/2005)
Careers in public health, from a disease detective (epidemiologist) at the CDC to policy makers.
(Twist (Detroit Free Press) 7/7/2007)
GM executive Lori Robins discovers true love... with her pet dog.
(Model D 8/14/2007)
Profile of Detroit percussionist Mark Sawasky.
(AlterNet 9/6/2014)
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.
(Patch.com 4/24/2011)
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.
(Twist (Detroit Free Press) 5/21/2006)
Mom prepares for empty nest.
(People magazine 6/18/2014)
Online version of longer story in magazine about Ben Affleck filming in Detroit amid rumors of gambling at area casinos.
(New York Times 8/30/2008)
Contributing reporter to story about 2008 Republican VP nominee Sarah Palin, getting views of Michigan women.
(Detroit Make It Here/Crain 6/4/2009)
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."
(Super Lawyers 9/1/2012)
Keefe A. Brooks stays calm in the courtroom.
(Metro Times Detroit 4/28/2004)
Artists working away from their homelands.
(Crain's/Detroit Make It Here 5/6/2009)
Profile of one avid Detroiter.
(Crain's/Detroit Make It Here 9/16/2010)
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.
(Crain's/Detroit Make It Here 11/5/2009)
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.
(Crain's/Detroit Make It Here 9/22/2008)
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"
(Somerset Holiday Book 2010 12/1/2010)
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).
(Detroit Free Press 2/3/2015)
Preview of Detroit's 11th Annual Winter Blast.
(Patch.com 11/23/2010)
Raw food chef and new business owner Amber Poupore is on a mission to spread the health at her small downtown eatery
(Detroit Film Center project 4/1/2008)
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/
(Detroit Make It Here/Crain 10/8/2009)
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.
(Detroit Free Press 9/23/2014)
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.
(HOUR Detroit 4/1/2014)
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.
(Crain's/Detroit Make It Here 9/2/2010)
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.
(Metro Times Detroit 11/10/2004)
Mosaic Youth Theatre sculpts Detroit's future performers.
(Detroit News 8/31/2005)
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.
(New York Times 12/19/2003)
Reported for the Advertising Column on Chevrolet's new ad campaign.
(Crain's/Detroit Make It Here 6/20/2008)
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.
(Detroit Free Press 2/1/2005)
Dying of ALS, a 40-year-old Michigan mother of two fights to make her final days meaningful.
(Air Tran Airline's GO magazine 4/1/2008)
Monthly guide to thing to see and do in Detroit and beyond.
(Crain's/Detroit Make It Here 4/23/2009)
Interview with Detroit film and entertainment scene Renaissance Man Ed Gardiner.
(Super Lawyers 9/1/2011)
Profile on one of Michigan's top employment attorneys.
(Superlawyers 9/1/2009)
Profile on defense attorney and high profile corporate litigator Joseph Aviv.
(Crain's/Detroit Make It Here 5/6/2010)
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.
(Crain's/Detroit Make It Here 3/12/2009)
Interview with Detroit filmmaker whose intimate portraying of her city is in the Ann Arbor Film Festival.
(Crain's/Detroit Make It Here 5/6/2010)
MOCAD, Detroit's first museum of contemporary art, has high hopes for its future as it moves forward under the direction of Luis Croquer.
(Ford Vehicles - Wunderman 9/1/2008)
Worked on copy for B&P for several vehicles in this line.
(Crain's/Detroit Make It Here 7/16/2009)
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.
(Crain's/Detroit Make It Here 10/22/2009)
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.
(Detroit Make It Here/Crain 2/13/2009)
Interview Organic, Inc. Creative Director Kevin McElroy.
(Ford Vehicles - Wunderman 9/1/2008)
Worked on copy for B&P for several vehicles in this line.
(Crain's/Detroit Make It Here 3/26/2009)
Interview with an historic preservationist.
(Crain's/Detroit Make It Here 8/19/2010)
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.
(Delta Sky magazine 1/1/2010)
A guide to some of Detroit's best: including what do see, what to eat and where to stay.
(People magazine 11/14/2005)
Touched by the Fate of Unidentified Murder Victims, a Few Crusaders Refuse to Let Jane Does Be Forgotten—Or Unloved
(Crain's Detroit Business 2/20/2011)
Interview with fashion designer Joe Faris of Motor City Denim.
(Metro Times Detroit 5/19/2004)
The life and works of an artist from Albania.
(People magazine 10/11/2004)
Who Said Motherhood Was All Sippy Cups, Soccer Games and Car Pools? Fed Up with the Suburban Routine, These Women Pumped Up the Volume
(Crain's/Detroit Make It Here 6/16/2011)
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.
(People magazine 3/14/2005)
With a New Arsenal of Web Sites and Chat Rooms, Mean Kids Can Torment Their Victims 24/7 Online—often with Devastating Results
(People magazine 7/5/2004)
Michael Moore Says the President Lied to America. But Does His Movie Play Fair?
(People magazine 6/10/2002)
Risking Her Job, Coleen Rowley Accuses Her FBI Bosses of Ignoring Key 9/11 Clues
(Spirit magazine 6/1/2008)
Detroit travel story for the in-flight magazine of Southwest Airline: Spirit magazine
(Crain's/Detroit Make It Here 6/11/2008)
Q&A with Team Detroit's Toby Barlow.
(Crain's/Detroit Make It Here 11/19/2009)
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
(Crain's/Detroit Make It Here 1/15/2009)
Interview with author Michael Zadoorian.
(Detroit Free Press 5/4/2016)
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.
(Northwest WorldTraveler 1/1/2009)
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.)
(People magazine 8/3/2008)
Madonna at the Traverse City Film Festival.
(Detroit Make It Here/Crain 4/9/2009)
Interview and Q&A with Jeff Hupp and Chris Plum, aka the Blunk Brothers, of the music house Blunk Street Music