As Director of Policy, Elena oversees all of Pratt Center’s policy initiatives from the development and delivery of policy research and reports, to the creation of tools that demystify policy concepts for the use of local partners. She advances strategic and collaborative advocacy campaigns that link our technical assistance practice with local partners to policy. She also serves as a lead organizer, facilitator and urban planner on projects that advance policies and projects improving housing, the environment, and economic opportunities for low- and moderate-income New Yorkers. Elena focuses on equitable land use, accountable development, sustainability, housing and transportation equity issues, including bus rapid transit and the Southern Bronx River Watershed Alliance’s Sheridan Expressway campaign.
Previously, Elena led solid waste, energy and urban forestry efforts at Sustainable South Bronx. She helped advance a successful citywide campaign to ensure that New York City's garbage export system is distributed throughout the five boroughs, instead of concentrated in low-income neighborhoods suffering the city's highest rates of environmental illness. She also directed Greening for Breathing's efforts to plant and care for trees as a community-based response to poor air quality and low canopy cover.
Born and raised in New York City, Elena holds a Master’s degree in City and Regional Planning from Pratt Institute and dual Bachelors' of Arts, in Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity and Spanish, from Stanford University. She is a Senior Fellow with the Environmental Leadership Program and a Coro Immigrant Civic Leadership Program participant, as well as an adjunct professor at the CUNY Murphy Institute's School of Professional Studies. She's engaged in Warriors of Embodied Leadership (WEL), a two-year intensive training, apprenticeship, and certification program related to somatics that develops skills in facilitation and coaching for social justice practitioners taught by Rusia Mohiuddin, the principal of Universal Partnership (http://universalpartnership.org).
She is passionate about languages & sociolinguistics, walking & bicycling, and being challenged & challenging others in compassionate ways.