Commissioner Dan Ellison grew up on cattle ranches in western Montana, and attended grade and high school in Montana’s Bitterroot Valley. He graduated from the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, and following flight school was awarded pilot’s wings in Pensacola, Florida. While on active duty he completed Master’s Degrees in Human Resource management from Pepperdine University, and Strategic Studies from the Naval War College. He is a highly decorated Navy pilot whose deployments took him to Southeast Asia, the western Pacific, the Indian Ocean, and Antarctica, where he met his future spouse, Jane Fournier. His shore duty assignments included flight instructor, helicopter search and rescue in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, operations analysis at the U.S. Space Command, speechwriting for senior Defense Department officials, and serving for two years as Legislative Assistant to the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Colin Powell at the Pentagon in Washington, DC.
Following naval service, Dan moved to Wyoming and worked as a Business Manager for the Forest Service. Returning to Montana in 1999, he served as a Division Administrator at the Department of Revenue, and as Chief of Administration and Finance at Fish, Wildlife, and Parks retiring in 2005. He is a life member of Trout Unlimited (TU), serves on the Board of Directors for Montana TU as the State Treasurer, and the Pat Barnes Chapter Board in Helena. For 6 years he was a Commissioner of the Helena Regional Airport Authority, and served as Board Chair for the final two years of his term. He is a past member of the Montana Business Assistance Connection (MBAC) Loan Committee, and the Helena Independent Record Editorial Board. Dan is a life member of the Distinguished Flying Cross Society, and his name is inscribed on the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum Wall of Honor. In November 2009 he was elected to the Helena City Commission.