Linda Ellerbee

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Overcoming Adversity, Change, Education, Media Personality, Cancer Awareness


Linda Ellerbee, Overcoming Adversity
Linda Ellerbee, Overcoming Adversity

Linda Ellerbee is an outspoken journalist, award-winning television producer, best-selling author, breast cancer survivor, mother, grandmother and one of the most sought-after speakers in America.

Ellerbee began her career at CBS, and then moved to NBC News where, after years covering national politics, she pioneered the late-night news program NBC News Overnight, which she wrote and anchored. Overnight was cited by the duPont Columbia Awards as “the best written and most intelligent news program ever.” In 1986, Ellerbee moved to ABC News to anchor and write Our World, a weekly primetime historical series. Her work on Our World won her an Emmy.

In 1987, Ellerbee and Rolfe Tessem, her partner, quit network news to start Lucky Duck Productions, first producing documentaries for PBS. In 1991, Lucky Duck began producing Nick News for Nickelodeon with Ellerbee writing and hosting. Nineteen years later, Nick News is watched by more children than watch all other television news shows put together—and has earned honors traditionally associated with adult programming. Known for the respectful and direct way it speaks to children about the important issues of our time, Nick News has collected three Peabody Awards (including one personal Peabody given to Ellerbee for her coverage of the Clinton investigation), a duPont Columbia Award and seven Emmys, most recently, one for Coming Home: When Parents Return From War given in the category of Outstanding Children’s Programming. Coming Home made history when it was given the prestigious Edward R. Murrow award for best network documentary – not a kids’ category – and the first time ever that a kids’ show won that award.

These days, Ellerbee and her work can be seen all over the television universe. Lucky Duck has and continues to produce primetime specials for ABC, CBS, HBO, PBS, Lifetime, MTV, Logo, A&E, MSNBC, SOAPnet, Trio, Animal Planet and TV Land, among others. Ellerbee was honored with an Emmy for her series, When I Was a Girl, which aired on WE: Women’s Entertainment network.

Ellerbee’s first foray into books for kids, an eight-part fiction series entitled Get Real, published in 2000, won her raves among middle school readers. Both of Ellerbee’s previous adult books—And So It Goes, a humorous look at television news, and Move On, stories about being a working single mother, a child of the ‘60s and a woman trying to find some balance in her life—have been national best sellers. Ellerbee’s recent book, also a best seller, Take Big Bites: Adventures Around the World and Across the Table, a tribute to her love of travel, talking to (and eating with) strangers, and, according to Ellerbee, “oh, just making trouble in general.”

As a breast cancer survivor, Ellerbee travels thousands of miles each year giving inspirational speeches to others. She is as direct with women as she is with kids; they understand that she understands their lives.

Although Ellerbee has won all of television’s highest honors, she says it’s her two children who’ve brought her the richest rewards. Ellerbee spends her personal time in New York City and Massachusetts with Rolfe, her partner in work and life and their dogs, Daisy and Dolly.


Overcoming Adversity

All speeches run approximately 45 minutes. Ellerbee can follow up with 15 minutes of Q&A.  Also, Ellerbee can do combinations of some of the speeches below.

How To Be Successful and Hang Onto Your Values:

How Ellerbee balanced having kids and building a career…or tried to. Ellerbee delivers her trademark wit and wisdom on everything from leaving the networks to starting her own company, from having a boss to being the boss.

How to Survive a Changing World and How to Change Your World:

Ellerbee gives her rules for surviving a changing world with the heart intact – from surviving breast cancer, to climbing mountains, from overcoming obstacles to making a noise. In her life and in her career, Ellerbee has learned that change is the norm.

How to Raise Media-Savvy Kids:

In the future, our kids will either learn to use the media that surround them as tools, or they will be tools of that media. Television. The Internet. iPhones. What’s next? And what is media literacy today, and how do we teach it? Ellerbee offers insight and perspective gained from speaking with (and listening to) kids for nearly 20 years on the critically-acclaimed children’s television series, “Nick News”.…and from raising two media-savvy kids of her own.

Kids, Television, and the News: Ellerbee talks about her journey to producing children’s television – how she created Nick News, her long-running series on Nickelodeon and “what I’ve learned about children, television and the real world.”

PLEASE NOTE: THIS SPEECH MAY BE TAILORED FOR EDUCATION GROUPS. Ellerbee talks about how teachers can use television as a teaching tool and turn television from the enemy into the teacher’s friend.

Surviving Breast Cancer to Laugh Another Day:

Ellerbee describes her experience with breast cancer – from the heartfelt yet amusing reactions of friends and colleagues, to the determination and spirit that make her an 18+-year survivor.

Adventures in Journalism: From newspapers to networks, she’s gone from covering fires and parades to presidential debates and international terrorism, and collected some of the most prestigious awards along the way. Ellerbee talks about her experience as a veteran journalist.

Ellerbee Books

And So It Goes: Adventures in the Television World – copyright 1986; about Ellerbee’s career.

Move On: Adventures in the Real World – copyright 1991; about Ellerbee’s life.

Get Real – released in 2000-2001; an 8-part fictional series for middle-school readers.

Take Big Bites: Adventures Around the World and Across the Table – copyright 2005; about travel and food.


“Evaluations of your keynote presentation were extremely positive. The attendees and staff obviously had great respect and admiration for you! I would highly recommend you as a keynote speaker to anyone that inquires…”

Administrative Professionals Conference
Las Vegas, NV

“Your keynote address was a huge hit with our female audience and your ‘seven rules’ are applicable to any woman at any stage in her life. Thanks for sharing your wit and wisdom with all of us…”
Professional BusinessWomen of California
Sacramento, CA

“I’ve heard nothing but praise for Linda’s appearance! She did such a wonderful job…She’s so well spoken…Our CEO was very impressed!…”
Sam’s Club
Kansas City, MO

“She was absolutely wonderful – her speech was dynamic, heart warming and real. I was able to meet her and had an immediate feeling of warmth and kindness. She is truly an inspiration for all and I am so glad she was able to share her story with us in Houston.”
Gloria Moorman, Nancy Owens Memorial Foundation

“The audience was intrigued by your life history and found your talk both informative and enlightening. Your presentation set the perfect mood and energy level for the conference.”
Michael Eason, Executive Director, Florida Educational Technonolgy Corporation

“Her story was truly inspirational – how she basically took lemons and made lemonade. She made her life happen and stepped outside herself, quite a bit, to become who she is today. She is an extraordinary person and we are lucky she chooses to share her story with the world.”
Nancy L. Jewell, Publicity Director, Husqvarna

To put it plainly, Linda Ellerbee blew them away…news reporter, writer, producer — and as the room soon learned — a captivating storyteller who took charge and gave the group power…
The Hartford Courant

Ellerbee kept the crowd laughing with tales of her colorful career in journalism… it is the cancer survivors who bonded most with the newscaster, sharing a connection that Ellerbee said can be understood ‘by those who have been down the same road.
Chicago Daily Herald

Linda Ellerbee was a fantastic speaker. She was the most dynamic of all of our speakers, and the best moderator we could have had for the panel. Out of about 14 keynote speakers in two years, she is the only one to receive a standing ovation. She was fabulous, and also a real pleasure to work with.
Zayed University

…thank you for the impressive message with which you launched our leadership celebration. Your candor, competency and frankness charmed students and adults alike…You clearly have a story to tell and you so obviously enjoy telling it. The decision to ask you to keynote the day was one of the best I may ever make in my tenure as Head of School.
Emma Willard School


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