When Fisher discovered that there wasn't a resource to find women-owned businesses, she created the Women's Yellow Pages of Greater Philadelphia in 1982. Since its inception, over 500,000 copies have been distributed. She saw that the internet was the way of the future, and kept ahead of the curve, by adding a web-based directory in 1999. It now gets over 135,000 hits per month. Always the consummate networker, Fisher wanted to make sure that all women in business had access to networking opportunities, so she launched Connect , a free monthly e-newsletter that provides a circulation of over 7500 with a local calendar of events, as well as other important information for women in business.
Mentoring is a huge part of Ellen Fisher's vision, so she founded, and is past president of, Women's Regional Publications of America, where she has guided the development of similar women's publications throughout the U.S. Currently, there are Women's Directories published in 20 cities.
In 1995, Ms. Fisher applied for a grant from the Federal Government because, as women's businesses became more established, she saw that there was a need for setting up infrastructures for these businesses could continue to thrive. With this grant, she co-founded the Women's Business Development Center in Philadelphia . The Center continues to provide services and programs that support and accelerate women's business ownership.
Frustrated by the lack of procurement opportunities for women-owned businesses, Fisher ran for a seat in the Pennsylvania State House (in a nationally publicized race in 1990) so she could be part of the solution. She made small business issues a cornerstone in her campaign. Since then she has encouraged and trained other women to run for office.
Ellen Fisher served as a Delegate to the White House Conference on Small Business in both 1986 and 1995. Among other honors, Fisher is an Athena Award Winner and was the first recipient to receive the Women in Business Advocate Award from the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce. She was also recognized in 2008 by the Philadelphia Business Journal as a Woman of Distinction and in 2003 as one of Pennsylvania 's Best 50 Women in Business. In 2007 she received the Women's Resource Center 's Making a Difference Award and, in 2006, the Friends of the Delaware County Women's Commission honored her with the Spirit of Excellence Award for Individual Business Achievement.
Ellen's vision also encompasses her community where she works on committees for everything from building new playgrounds to electing U.S. Senators. She frequently speaks with student and youth groups on entrepreneurship. It is no wonder that in July 1997, then Congressman Jim Talent, Chair of the Small Business Committee, presented her with the Lifetime Advocate for Women's Businesses from the National Association of Women's Yellow Pages.
Fisher is presently serving on the PA Small Business Development Center's Board of Directors, Main Line Health System's Women's Health Source Advisory Board , is a founding member of the NAWBO Education Foundation Board, and President of the Haverford School District Education Foundation.
Fisher resides in Havertown , PA with her husband, two college-age children, and father.