Ellie Vainker is the Deputy Director of Northwest Access Fund, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit and Community Development Financial Institution with the mission of offering people with disabilities customized loans, financial coaching, and other resources to promote access to assistive technology, independence, financial resilience, and life opportunities.
Ellie’s doctoral research incorporates disability studies, anthropology of development, and nonprofit studies in parsing the complications around fundraising for a disability organization given the legacies of harm and trauma around charity and disability. She outlines the ambivalences involved in meeting needs under capitalism to highlight both the individual financial costs of living with disability as well as the fraught position that nonprofit organizations must navigate in addressing unmet needs. She argues that far from being mercenary or naïve, as nonprofit fundraising is often portrayed, fundraising for nonprofit work involves balancing visionary politics with pragmatic action.
Ellie has professional experience in media production, academic publishing, and nonprofit administration. Between 2009 and 2013, she worked in the television and film industry in London on a range of productions, including Our War (BBC), Transgenders: Pakistan’s Open Secret (Clover Films for Channel 4), Opium Brides (Clover Films for PBS Frontline), and Leave to Remain (Infinity Films). Between 2014 and 2018, she served as a digital content editor for Cultural Anthropology, providing manuscript editing for Hot Spots and Theorizing the Contemporary pieces. Since 2017, she has worked in nonprofit administration and programming in the Pacific Northwest.