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 Populations Served: At-Risk/Vulnerable Populations, Low-Income Communities, Urban Communities
Architect, Vice-Chair of Manhattan Community Board 11
Hart Howerton

As a licensed architect and chair of the Environment Open Space and Parks Committee for Manhattan Community Board 11, Jessica tackles 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. Jessica works closely with the Community Board and community based organizations to address issues of inequitable services and funding, especially as it relates to the experience of the neighborhood and the influences of the environment on health. Jessica is focused on the intersectional elements that compound vulnerabilities in neighborhoods like East Harlem, from extreme heat, lack of green space, pollution, and resiliency to an overconcentration of industrial uses, equitable provision of city services, and overall structural disinvestment. Jessica believes that improving alignment between city government and agencies, elected officials, and the Community Board with the integration of intentional community outreach and expertise from built environment professionals will yield a more sustainable and equitable future for East Harlem.

STRATEGIC INITIATIVE: Coalition Building to Advance Quality of Life in East Harlem’s Built Environment
In East Harlem, the attainability of health equity goals balances within a careful intersection of advocacy and action from city and state government, local government, local community-based organizations, and local residents. Each of these contributing factors is multilayered in and of itself and operates with dramatically different funding, timelines, communication, resources, goals, and power.

As an architect and Manhattan Community Board 11 member, I seek to coordinate these stakeholders and influencing bodies to align with the advancement of the quality of life in East Harlem’s built environment. My hope is that doing so will provide a more equitable, sustainable, and healthy neighborhood experience that will yield better health outcomes for East Harlem residents and increased opportunity for lifelong success. I am working to facilitate engagement and foster more transparent communication between city agencies and residents. My goal is to catalyze short-term progress on overdue projects within the neighborhood, like the restoration of the East River Esplanade. Additionally, I aim to build long-term,multi-sector partnerships that will advocate for equitable investment and work with the city of New York toward a community-led vision for the future of El Barrio.

Jessica is a first-generation college graduate who is passionate about utilizing her design expertise to improve quality of life and well- being in underserved communities. She brings her expertise as a licensed architect with WELL and SEED accreditation to her work with colleagues across industries, sectors, and geographies in order to influence positive change in the built environment as it relates to health, from parks and public spaces to land use, zoning, and development. Jessica believes in the critical importance of listening to, understanding, and integrating the history and culture of the community to empower and engage them throughout the process. Jessica is also involved in the ULI Health Leaders Network and the WELL City Advisory, is a licensed yoga teacher, and is a strong believer in continuous learning. She believes that informed, intentional, and just design in our cities, communities, and environments increases our ability to create memories, share experiences, and build thriving connected places. Jessica is passionate about community development, economic mobility, and longevity and aspires to help societies overcome societal barriers while engaging local community members and fostering a greater collective human experience.

Click here to watch Jessica’s Legacy Project video.