Written: Zoe Elledge
College of Engineering staff members LaJauna and Kevin Ellis keep busy on campus and off, while also watching a grandson on campus in white and gold.
From golfing, to biking, to serving together at church on Sundays, LaJauna and Kevin Ellis don’t spend much time at home.
“Sometimes people say they can’t catch us,” said Kevin. “You’re not going to see us sitting around for a whole day.”
LaJauna has stayed in one place for a while: this is her 25th year at Georgia Tech. She started on campus the same year Atlanta hosted the Olympics, initially as project coordinator with the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering’s (ECE) director of research administration. She would later serve as assistant to Gary May when he was ECE chair.
When May was named College of Engineering dean in 2011, he asked LaJauna to join him. Ten years and two deans later, she’s still in Tech Tower.
“Working with the different deans over the years has truly been a partnership. My ideas are appreciated, and it’s been a rewarding experience,” said LaJauna, the College’s director of admin and strategic initiatives.
Kevin’s Georgia Tech career isn’t as long, but it started in the same place as his wife’s. He began working full-time on campus seven years ago in ECE’s University Center of Excellence for Photovoltaics Research and Education (UCEP). After a stint in the College of Computing and Enterprise Resource Planning, Kevin is back in the College of Engineering as the assistant director of financial operations for the Daniel Guggenheim School of Aerospace Engineering. His team maintains the school’s fiscal budget and support faculty research initiatives.
“I’ve always had a passion for helicopters and jets, and it’s been a huge opportunity to work with the people who design aircraft and make them better and safer,” Kevin said.
The Ellises are actively involved in the Georgia Tech community. Kevin is treasurer for Staff Council. LaJauna has been a member of the College of Engineering’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Council since its creation in 2017. She’s also active in the College’s Staff Culture Advisory Council, and GRIOT, Women of Georgia Tech, and RESILIENCE Employee Resource Groups.
“I really enjoy the diversity found at Tech and our city,” she said. “You can experience so many different cultures in Atlanta, just like here on campus.”
LaJauna’s office in Tech Tower is about a football punt from Bobby Dodd Stadium. That’s where you can find a third member of the Ellis family. Jordan Yates is one of the couple’s 17 grandchildren and a quarterback for the Yellow Jackets. Although athletics and academics keep him busy, LaJauna and Kevin say they’re able to see Jordan during the workday when time allows.
“We’ve had the opportunity to see Jordan’s development from elementary school, through high school, to now,” said Kevin. “We’ve always had front row seats to watch him play and grow.”
The Ellises and grandson Jordan Yates in Bobby Dodd Stadium at Historic Grant Field
“It was definitely a bonus, when I decided to come to Georgia Tech, to have them working here,” said Yates, who graduated from Milton High School in Atlanta’s north suburbs. “With them being on campus, we try to get together about once a month. Being close to home and having family nearby is very convenient and a great way to stay in touch.”
Away from campus, LaJauna and Kevin are active in their church community, which is where they met. They have participated in service projects through Zion Missionary Baptist Church in Roswell, including a mission trip to Uganda in 2012.
On their days off, you can find LaJauna and Kevin staying active through some of their many interests, usually outdoors, and incorporating their spiritual life into their daily adventures.
“Working together is great. Now we speak a common language when discussing our jobs,” said LaJauna. “When we worked separately, it was difficult to communicate about our roles, but since Kevin joined me in higher education, it clicked for us. We’re now part of the same work family too.”