Director of Project WILD
Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies (AFWA)
Elena currently serves as Director of Professional Development and Conservation Education at the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies. From encouraging youth to recognize the ecosystem values of urban environments to providing leadership skills for professionals, Elena believes it is important for people to go beyond just understanding the world around them; they should have the opportunity to experience it through exploration, curiosity, and wonder.
Before coming to AFWA, Elena worked at the North American Association for Environmental Education, focusing on developing online modules for professionals. During her time at National Geographic Society, she managed the Chesapeake Bay initiative, funded by a NOAA grant, that involved uploading student water quality data to an online platform and creating curriculum and professional development opportunities to incorporate its use in social studies and science classrooms.
While at the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Elena was the lead staff for the Maryland Partnership for Children in Nature and coordinated education and outreach efforts for the state agency. Throughout her career, she has developed numerous curricula and lessons that involve student data collection and using that data to make informed resource management decisions.
Elena currently volunteers as a board member for the Natural History Society of Maryland, and as an advisory member for the North American Association for Environmental Education. Additionally, Elena has served as President of the Maryland Association for Environmental and Outdoor Education, where she is Emeritus and a member of their Maryland Environmental Education Certification program. Elena has served as Adjunct Faculty for Towson University where she supervised Master’s Education Students during their internships in middle and high schools, and she has led several study abroad courses in Costa Rica for pre-service educators.
Elena is a graduate of University of Michigan’s School of Natural Resources (BS), University of Michigan’s School of Education (MA) and Johns Hopkins University (MS). She recently received a certificate in E-Learning and Instructional Design through Oregon State University.
Elena lives along the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland, with her husband Ryan, where they enjoy kayaking and spoiling their dog.