Elissa has focused her career on making the District and its government accountable, responsive, and accessible to residents through her work as a budget analyst, reporter, and progressive reformer. Now she’s putting those skills to work as an at-large member of the D.C. Council.
Elissa moved to the District and began her reporting career at the Washington City Paper near the end of Marion Barry’s fourth term as mayor and the beginning of Anthony A. Williams’ first. For three years during Williams’ second term, she authored the paper's “Loose Lips” column on D.C. politics. She later worked for The Washington Post and covered the 2006 mayoral race.
From 2009 to 2014, Elissa worked for the D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute, analyzing the D.C. budget, leading budget advocacy campaigns, and heading a coalition of groups that successfully opened D.C. Council budget negotiations to the public. In her role as communications director, Elissa has helped make the D.C. budget accessible to a broad range of residents through innovative techniques including blogs, graphics, and videos. Before leaving DCFPI, she helped coordinate the campaigns that led to an increase in D.C. minimum wage and an expansion of paid sick days to restaurant workers.
In 2012, she helped lead the efforts of D.C. Public Trust, the grassroots effort to ban direct corporate contributions in local politics. She ran for an at-large D.C. Council seat in the April 23, 2013, special election.
In November 2012 Elissa was honored to receive a Heschel Vision Award from the organization Jews United for Justice. Named after Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, an influential theologian and leader in civil rights and social justice, this award recognizes individuals for their activism and moral intent. Honored along with Elissa was Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley.
Elissa grew up in Baltimore and attended public schools. She graduated from Brown University with a concentration in economics and history. Her studies at Brown sparked a lifelong interest in urban policy and shaped her thinking on key issues such as equity, race, poverty, and economic development.
Elissa is a Ward 6 resident and owns a home in Capitol Hill near H Street NE. She is a longtime cyclist, a recreational tennis player, and a sometimes cook. She is part of a Washington Nationals season ticket group (but also still roots for her hometown Orioles).