Elissa 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 moved to The Washington Post and covered the 2006 mayoral race, co-authoring a front-page story that investigated how money shaped the contest between Linda Cropp and Adrian Fenty.
Since 2009 Elissa has 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.
Last year 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 DC Council seat in the April 23 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 Northeast Capitol Hill near H Street. 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).