(any pronouns)

I am Black and queer and of Mississippi Choctaw and Cherokee descent. I hail from Missouri, and am a 30-year resident of California. I am a call to the sacred in everyone. I believe the sacred is what’s possible when we all have what we need to be our best self and return to it when uprooted or uncentered.

I am a writer, artist, and movement doula and accompanist. In this movement role, I support people with a vision for an interdependently thriving people and planet to be better in what they do.

In 2013, I joined Change Elemental as the Program Catalyst for the Network Leadership Innovation Lab, became CoDirector in 2015, and transitioned to the Leadership Hub in 2021. I partner with Change Elemental clients for the purposes of equity and liberation-rooted leadership development, culture change processes, and coaching services. In addition to my work with Change Elemental, I teach in the MA in Leadership Program at Saint Mary’s College where I facilitate diverse, cross-sector learning communities in developing a 5 Elements practice.

Bringing together theory and real-world practice is where I thrive. I am driven by the values of human dignity, interdependence, and love in both what I do and how I do it. I have authored and co-authored numerous resources including “Doing More with More: Lessons from a Shared Leadership Initiative,” in Nonprofit Quarterly, “Practicing the Elements of a Liberating Ecosystem,” and “Leadership and Race: How to Develop Leadership that Contributes to Racial Justice.”

I earned a BA in Humanities with a concentration in social change and an MFA with concentrations in teaching and diaspora literature. I am also a certified Values & Leadership Coach. When I’m not at Change Elemental or Saint Mary’s (and even sometimes when she is!), you can find me writing prose, dancing, exploring other art forms, and spending time with trees.

Other Affiliations

Recent Publications
(creative works are available separately)

Selected Research

  • Network Leadership Innovation Lab, A Co-created Lab for Leaders in Movement Networks for Justice, 2013-2015.
  • Developing a Racial Justice and Leadership Framework to Promote Racial Equity, Address Structural Racism, and Heal Racial and Ethnic Divisions in Communities, with Claire Reinelt for the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, July 2009.
  • A Scan of Leadership Development Efforts in Communities of Color in a Five County Region of California, for the David & Lucile Packard Foundation, December 2008.
  • Multiple Styles of Leadership – Increasing the Racial Diversity of the Leadership of the Nonprofit Sector, for the Annie E. Casey Foundation, April 2006.

Selected Clients

  • Annenberg Foundation
  • Eastern Woodlands Rematriation Collective
  • National Performing Arts Network
  • Sum of Us
  • University of Hawaii, Hawaiinuiakea School of Hawaiian Knowledge
  • Weingart Foundation – John W. Mack Fellows Program
  • Women’s Democracy Lab

Selected Workshop Topics

  • Art, Spirit, Justice & Joy – Our Whole Selves in the Work
  • Doing More with More – Deepening Leadership Capacity
  • Our Walking & Our Talking – Prefiguring the Future We Want
  • What to Bring, When to Bring It – Leading in Emergence

For Elissa Perry artivist, thinker, doer, agitator, visit abc…xyz…beyond.

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