As part of the Systems Change Team at the Center for the Study of Social Policy (CSSP), Elissa Gelber has primarily worked with states that are under federal court orders to change their child welfare systems. She helps to build accountability by engaging stakeholders, meeting with state leaders, collecting and analyzing data, and producing reports on the impact of these systems on the lives of children and families; and advocates for transformative practices that enable families and communities to thrive.
Prior to joining CSSP, Elissa served as Project Director and Clinical Director at the Center for Court Innovation in New York City, where she oversaw a Youth Justice Center that provided a range of programming for court-involved youth and their families, including diversion, alternative to detention, violence prevention, and after school programs, and clinical and case management services, in collaboration with the NYC Administration for Children Services, Department of Probation, and local hospitals, schools, and community-based organizations. Elissa has worked as a case manager and Program Coordinator in East New York, Brooklyn, where she oversaw early intervention programming for youth and families and provided trainings to school-based staff on the impact of trauma, and family-centered approaches to working with youth with chronic absences. Earlier in her career, Elissa worked as an attorney at Children’s Rights, a national non-profit, where she represented children in foster care seeking relief through class action litigation. She is certified in numerous trauma-focused clinical interventions, and trained in the use of Attachment, Regulation, and Competency (ARC) at St. Lukes Center for Children and Families in New York. Elissa was awarded a Luce Foundation fellowship focused on the development of family preservation programs in in Hanoi, Vietnam, and has served on city-wide committees aimed at developing practice standards to address the needs of youth involved with both the juvenile justice and foster care systems.
Elissa is a graduate of the Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College, and has a JD from Harvard Law School, and a Bachelors degree in Political Theory and Economics from New York University.