Current Leader

Jessica Elliott

Jessica Elliott
Location: New York, New York Cohort Start Year: 2019 Project Topics: Built Environment/Housing/Planning, Community/Civic Engagement, Economic Stability, Environmental Justice, Public Policy, Racial Justice, Violence and Trauma Populations Served: Incarcerated or Formerly Incarcerated Populations, Low-Income Communities, Urban Communities
Associate, Community Board Member
Hart Howerton


As an architect and community leader, Jessica believes that design thinking has the power to generate systematic change in our society when combined with interdisciplinary approaches, alignment of diverse strategic partners, and intentional community involvement. Jessica is passionate about tackling large-scale intersectional health issues that impact the growth, development and opportunity of individuals and communities, including how our environments shape our health and well-being throughout our lifetimes. Understanding how important community connectivity, neighborhood assets and collective memory of place is to a community, Jessica hopes to help build upon the idea of a Culture of Health with a focus on the built environment within her neighborhood of East Harlem, New York, and beyond.

In her work, Jessica seeks to address issues of health in the environment from extreme heat, resilience, access to public space, pollution and air quality, access to affordable housing, and more through connecting interdisciplinary research with East Harlem residents’ lived experiences. Jessica is passionate about inclusive, intergenerational design and adverse childhood experiences and aspires to address the symptoms of toxic stress in our environments that can deeply impact our physical and mental health throughout the rest of our lives. She is interested in the ways that planning, design and community development can be activated through Human-Centered Design techniques in order to improve health outcomes and increase economic mobility and opportunity for everyone. Her vision for a more equitable society would be a focus on addressing the systematic sources of these conditions through integrated policy, health practices and trust-based community design solutions.

Jessica is a first-generation college graduate and is passionate about utilizing her design expertise as a change agent in underserved communities. From her experiences growing up in a city with extreme income inequality, and her ongoing research on the impacts and effects of land use policy and urban design strategies on cities and their inhabitants, she views architecture and design as a tool to redesign and address the inequities that have been built into our city fabrics over time. Jessica believes that through our communities and environments, design allows for the ability to create memories, share experiences, and build thriving connected communities. She is passionate about community development, economic mobility, and longevity in underserved populations. Jessica’s imperative is to help shape societies and communities to overcome societal barriers, engaging them and fostering a greater collective human experience.


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