James Ellis

James O. Ellis Jr.

  • CISAC Affiliate
  • Annenberg Distinguished Visiting Fellow, Hoover Institution

Not in residence


            James O. Ellis, Jr. was elected President and Chief Executive Officer of the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations (INPO), located in Atlanta, Georgia, on May 18, 2005 and retired from that position on May 18, 2012.

                  INPO, sponsored by the commercial nuclear industry, is an independent, nonprofit organization whose mission is to promote the highest levels of safety and reliability -- to promote excellence -- in the operation of nuclear electric generating plants. As its leader for seven years, Mr. Ellis oversaw the creation and implementation of processes and standards in the domestic commercial nuclear power industry in areas that include fuel reliability, chemistry, radiation protection, material science, equipment reliability, human performance and safety culture. An acknowledged global leader in nuclear safety, he sat on the board of the World Association of Nuclear Operators and twice co-chaired the United States delegation to the United Nations (IAEA) Convention on Nuclear Safety. In the aftermath of the Japanese nuclear crisis, INPO played a pivotal role in both organizing and implementing the technical engineering and operational support which U. S. industry continues to provide to the Japanese utility. INPO also oversaw the technical review of the Japanese accident and its causes so as to provide precise guidance to the U. S. commercial industry on needed engineering and operational improvements and corrective actions.

            In 2004, Admiral Ellis completed a distinguished 39-year Navy career as Commander of the United States Strategic Command during a time of challenge and change.  In this role, he was responsible for the global command and control of United States strategic and space forces, reporting directly to the Secretary of Defense. Coordinating with the national laboratories, he was also responsible for the maintenance and reliability of the nation’s aging strategic weapon stockpile through the Stockpile Stewardship program. After merging Strategic Command with United States Space Command, Admiral Ellis was responsible for requirements generation, performance assessment and operational employment of the nation’s space communication and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems and their supporting architecture. He also spearheaded the operational deployment of the nation’s ballistic missile defense architecture. He was the designated commander for both defensive and offensive cyber warfare, overseeing the development, procurement and combat employment of those capabilities.

            A 1969 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, Admiral Ellis was designated a Naval aviator in 1971.  His service as a carrier-based Navy fighter pilot included tours with two fighter squadrons, and assignment as Commanding Officer of an F/A-18 strike/fighter squadron.  In 1991, he assumed command of the USS Abraham Lincoln, a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier. After selection to Rear Admiral, in 1996 he served as a carrier battle group commander leading contingency response operations in the Taiwan Straits.

His shore assignments included senior military staff tours directing operations for the U.S. Atlantic Fleet and as Deputy Chief of Naval Operations (Plans, Policy, and Operations). He also served as Commander in Chief, U.S. Naval Forces, Europe and Commander in Chief, Allied Forces, Southern Europe during a time of historic NATO expansion and led United States and NATO forces in combat and humanitarian operations during the 1999 Kosovo crisis.

Mr. Ellis holds a master’s degree in aerospace engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology and, in 2005, was inducted into the school’s Engineering Hall of Fame.  He also has a master’s degree in aeronautical systems from the University of West Florida.  He completed United States Navy Nuclear Power Training and was qualified in the operation and maintenance of naval nuclear propulsion plants.  He is a graduate of the Navy Test Pilot School, the Navy Fighter Weapons School (Top Gun) and the Senior Officer Program in National Security Strategy at Harvard University. As an engineering and experimental test pilot, he was both a part of the engineering team and a project pilot during landing structural tests of aircraft and related systems, shipboard catapult and arrested landing evaluations, and fully automatic carrier landing system development and certification. He was the engineering test pilot on a developmental microwave landing system and was the first pilot to successfully employ its capabilities hands-off to touchdown.

His personal awards include the Defense Distinguished Service Medal (three awards), Navy Distinguished Service Medal (two awards), Legion of Merit (four awards), Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal (two awards), and the Navy Commendation Medal, as well as numerous campaign and service awards.  He was presented the Order of Merit of the Republic of Hungary, the Star of Merit and Honor from the Greek Ministry of Defense and both the Joint Forces Medal of Honor and the Grand Order of Merit of the Italian Republic.

Mr. Ellis currently serves on the board of directors of the Lockheed Martin Corporation, where he chairs the Strategic Affairs Committee, and Dominion Energy. He is the former Chairman of the Board of Level 3 Communications. In 2009 he completed three years of service as a Presidential Appointee on the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board and, in 2006, he was a member of the Military Advisory Panel to the Iraq Study Group.

In November, 2013, Admiral Ellis accepted an appointment as an Annenberg Distinguished Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.