Cindy Ellis, HCDP’s former president and longtime volunteer, was honored at the 2023 NC11 Gala as the Henderson County recipient of the Liston B. Ramsey Award. The Ramsey Award recognizes those who have made outstanding contributions toward furthering the values of the Democratic Party, including human rights, accessible healthcare, and environmental protection. Liston B. Ramsey was a member of the NC House of Representatives for nearly four decades and served as an influential Speaker of the House from 1981-1989.
Cindy has lived in Henderson County for more than 40 years, spending much of that time as an educator with the public school system. Her father was in the service, and she spent part of her childhood in the Philippines before her family moved to Upstate South Carolina, where she finished high school.
“My parents were hard-working, generous people and even though we never talked about politics, they influenced me to be an empathetic person. I’ve always had a sense of duty and compassion and wanted to help people who didn’t have the advantages I had.”
After getting married, Cindy spent several years as a stay-at-home mom in Georgia but went back to college after she and her family moved to Henderson County. She earned a bachelor’s in education from Mars Hill University and a master’s from Western Carolina. During her career, she worked as a teacher, an assistant principal, a tutor, and an instructional coach, having an impact on countless children. Education continues to be a priority for her, but she also strongly believes in the importance of combatting climate change and making healthcare accessible for all, especially by expanding Medicaid.
“I have three grandchildren, and I think it’s our responsibility to leave them a world that is equitable and not in crisis,” she said.
Cindy said she has always been interested in politics and has always leaned progressive. She remembers casting her first vote for Jimmy Carter in a rural SC fire department that used hay bales to hold the ballot boxes.
She first became involved with HCDP when she did phone banking during Hillary Clinton’s campaign. She served as Horse Shoe precinct chair and as HCDP first vice chair before she became chair. “During my term, we emphasized voter turnout, using Bruce Sargent’s expertise with data as a foundation. It was difficult because more than half of that time was during COVID, but, thanks to Dalton Buchanan, we increased our social media, and we did phone banking, letters, and postcards with the help of our precinct leaders, auxiliaries and other volunteers. None of this would have been possible without our fundraising committee and Steve Culp serving as treasurer. I also appreciated Michelle Antalec’s help increasing precinct leadership to organize and greet voters at the polls. It truly takes a village to communicate with as many voters as possible.”
The effort paid off. As was noted at the gala, Henderson County went from R30 to R20 under Cindy’s leadership. “Looking ahead, it’s going to take work to continue to change things, but I am hopeful. It’s evident that more people with progressive ideas are moving to the area, more people are seeing that the GOP is limiting rights. Best of all, more young voters are becoming involved. I’m very excited about the new chair of the state party and her emphasis on rural counties.”
Outside HCDP, Cindy enjoys exploring the local food scene as well as game nights with other retired teacher friends. She and her family also enjoy hiking in Pisgah and going to apple farms in the fall. “Moving to Henderson County was our best decision. We love living here.”