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Elisa M. Ortiz is a leader, dedicated activist, and organizer for social change with 15 years of experience developing and leading advocacy and outreach campaigns, managing teams, working with diverse grassroots constituencies, utilizing various social marketing and outreach tools, and training, educating and empowering thousands of people.

Elisa brings a unique combination of big-picture strategic thinking and intense detail-orientation to everything she does. With her experience in implementing nationwide advocacy campaigns, excellent customer service/partner relations, and management savvy she can help take your organization to the next level of public influence and impact.

Thought Leadership

Elisa has been interviewed, quoted in articles, spoken on panels and guest blogged about her experiences as a nonprofit leader.  She has also presented on leadership and workforce development for local nonprofits, corporations and community groups including:


  • "More than anything, Elisa is always willing to stop and train/educate/explain something to me so that I understand exactly what is going on. There have been so many instances where I have learned and met amazing people, this is all because of Elisa and how seriously she takes my internship."
  • "Elisa is a natural leader and an incredibly caring supervisor. She made it a top priority to provide guidance and career development advice to entry-level employees such as myself."  
  • "I was impressed and delighted with [Elisa's] ability to get things done, her professionalism, her sense of responsibility, her thoughtfulness, and her desire to bring out the best in others -- all combined with a sense of humor and humanity."   
  • "Elisa is an incredibly energetic, enthusiastic leader who has demonstrated a strong vision and outstanding organizational skills in my dealings with her. She would be an asset to any organization lucky enough to work with her.”


Developing and executing advocacy campaigns

Developed and executed campaigns at the national, state, local, and provincial levels focused on enacting (or defeating) legislation, public education, advocating for a regulatory or policy change and ballot initiatives. Extensive experience engaging grassroots and grass tops activists and volunteers.

Leadership and management
Extensive experience managing large (up to 14) and small teams , full-time staff, consultants and interns, and people located across North America. 
Outreach and relationship building
 Champion networker with an unparalleled ability to reach out to all kinds of people, build relationships, develop trust and grow your organization's capacity to effect progressive change. Can identify big picture collaboration opportunities within the most scattered network of affiliations.
Training and capacity building

Developed and/or facilitated hundreds of trainings including hour-long webinars, full-day train-the-trainer courses, sessions for individuals or for hundreds and everything in between. Researched, co-authored and edited a unique workbook on intergenerational relationships in nonprofits. Created and delivered complete curriculum for community planners on public engagement, communications, and outreach. Experience encompasses the full range of training and capacity building requirements: assessing needs, developing curriculum, leading training and evaluating results.

Translating policy and campaign needs into field realities

Served as liaison between national offices and the field, worked with clients, funders and disparate coalitions , translating priorities back and forth, and ensuring resources are shared. 

Event planning

Have planned scores of events from small strategic planning sessions to conferences with over 400 attendees with both an eye to logistical detail and a big picture view of the purpose and goal(s) of each event.

Technology and social media savvy

Have worked extensively with video conferencing, websites, instant messaging, social networks, collaborative online work spaces, content management systems, email service providers, office equipment, database systems and other technologies. Specific skills:

  • PC and Mac: MS Office Suite, Outlook, Publisher, Pages.
  • Database/CRM/CMS: Convio, EveryAction, MailChimp, Salesforce, Salsa.
  • Other: Google Apps, Hootsuite, Slack, Survey Monkey, TeamworkPM, WealthEngine, Wordpress.

Professional Experience


Deputy Director of State Affairs

Justice at Stake
  • Provided extensive direct support on advocacy and lobbying efforts to state advocates; reviewed and tracked state legislation; and drafted statements, letters, and legislative testimony. Convened and led a national strategy coordination table and knowledge-sharing calls with state advocates from across the country.
  • Managed all organizational outreach efforts to national and state issue advocacy communities, including voting rights, environmental issues, LGBT rights, reproductive rights, labor, etc. Outreach efforts included identifying, speaking at, and attending conferences and events; working with existing networks to identify new contacts; and cold outreach via phone and email. Singlehandedly led outreach efforts to the criminal justice community, a new target for JAS, including developing new relationships and securing speaking opportunities.
  • Hired, trained, supervised and evaluated State Affairs fellow and interns. Awarded internship site supervisor award two consecutive semesters by The Washington Center for Internships & Academic Seminars.
  • Successfully directed all planning and execution efforts for 2015 Fair Courts State Summit (~150 attendees) including logistics; marketing; Planning Committee management; agenda development; outreach to speakers; on-site conference management, etc. Led all planning efforts for 2016 Summit.

Senior Director of Client Services, Youth Engagement & Policy

Rescue - The Behavior Change Agency
  • Led team of 14 in executing youth engagement and policy change campaigns across the country and in Canada. Hired, supervised, trained, coached and evaluated both local and remote staff. Served as a member of the senior leadership team. Provided strategic direction, vision and goals for all youth engagement and policy initiatives.
  • Worked directly with clients at the state, provincial and local level to achieve youth tobacco and obesity prevention goals through a results-oriented and research-based proprietary youth engagement and campaign model. Managed additional voluntary policy campaigns with a focus on reducing adult exposure to secondhand smoke.
  • Developed and implemented all aspects of advocacy campaigns including strategic planning, coalition building, execution of specific strategies, tactics and activities, and evaluation and reporting of results.
  • Created and managed budgets and supervised reporting and evaluation for all projects and contracts.
  • Supervised the growth of a movement of youth activists focused on fighting tobacco from 6,000 to more than 9,000 in less than 2 years.
  • Launched a youth engagement program from scratch for the company’s first international client.

Deputy Director of Government Affairs and Outreach

Smart Growth America
  • Worked with the Director and other senior leadership to implement strategic direction of government affairs and outreach work, particularly as it concerned the organization's various constituencies and advocacy partners.
  • Led a team in planning and executing all federal issue advocacy and appropriations campaigns.
  • Ran workshops/trainings and provided tailored materials and technical assistance to partners on campaign strategy, community organizing, messaging, coalition development, and public engagement tactics.
  • Hired, trained, supervised, coached and evaluated Government Affairs & Outreach staff.
  • Served as primary contact for 50+ member organizations and other external partners; recruited new members to the coalition; managed all member benefits including members-only website, listserv, and database.

Outreach Manager

Smart Growth America
  • Worked with partners in 9 states to launch transit campaign efforts from initial needs assessment and work plan development through execution of state-specific strategies, tactics, and activities. Provided extensive campaign planning guidance, materials, training, and technical assistance to state teams.
  • Managed state stimulus campaign in 13 states & DC: provided strategic & tactical campaign advice to state partners influencing spending of transportation stimulus money, developed and disseminated materials and organized regular best practice/knowledge-sharing work sessions.
  • Standardized membership dues process and generated over $30,000 in dues in 4 months – a 500% revenue increase from the previous year.
  • Hired, trained, supervised, coached and evaluated staff and interns.

Coordinator, Outreach and Special Initiatives

National Council of Nonprofits
  • Directed all outreach, issue advocacy campaigns and coalition-building activities for the Nonprofit Congress initiative; wrote, edited and built action alerts, fact sheets, and advocacy toolkits. 
  • Co-authored, edited and supervised production of Work With Me: Intergenerational Conversations for Nonprofit Leadership, a workbook designed to help nonprofits identify and leverage the expertise of all generations in the workplace. Developed train-the-trainers curriculum based on the workbook and delivered it to partners. 
  • Led all event planning efforts for 2009 Nonprofit Congress event (450 projected attendees) including content, logistics, marketing, communications, outreach, sponsorship and related tasks.
  • Designed and implemented successful coalition advocacy campaign for the College Cost Reduction and Access Act of 2007 [PDF].

Outreach Associate

National Low Income Housing Coalition
  • Mobilized members and state partners on legislative campaigns through phone, mail and email contact. Created sample letters to Congress, letters to the editor, call scripts, website content, talking points and email alerts for each campaign. Increased activist participation in advocacy campaigns by 50%.
  • Coordinated major national and local efforts on voter registration, education and mobilization (Voterization) focused on homeless and low-income citizens. Worked with national coalition partners, distributed materials to participants, tracked outcomes and reported on results.

Campus Coordinator

NARAL Pro-Choice America
  • Developed strategic plan, goals, timelines and grassroots action campaigns for Campus Organizing Program, ensured that timelines and goals were met and reported on results.
  • Coordinated, managed, issued grants and offered support to 20 state affiliate campus organizing programs and over 100 campuses. Remotely supervised several paid student organizers in non-affiliate states.
  • Planned and facilitated large national student conference, weekend trainings, student track at national conference and several individual workshops and training sessions involving more than 400 students and 50 staffers.

Campus Organizer

Feminist Majority Foundation
  • Organized and supervised 48 feminist activist student groups nationwide through phone calls, emails and visits to 46 campuses in 11 states and the District of Columbia. Increased number of groups by 25% in just nine months.
  • Facilitated 5 day-long training sessions and approximately 40 separate workshops on topics including leadership skills, recruitment, retention, budgeting, fundraising and event planning.
  • Developed content, coordinated logistics and mobilized students and community members to attend major national student conference (350 attendees) and three large coalition events (100 to 200 attendees each).


Leadership and Community Service

  • Member, Arlington County Neighborhood Complete Streets Commission, July 2013 – present.
  • Member, Transportation Commission, Arlington County, VA; July 2010 - July 2016.
  • Member, Leadership Council, Young Nonprofit Professionals Network of DC (YNPNdc); August 2010 - August 2012.