LeElaine grew up in Statesville, N.C., and received her B.A in sociology, with a minor in social and economic justice, at UNC-Chapel Hill. During college, she spent time in Guatemala, El Salvador, and Nicaragua studying social change and sustainable economic development.
She served as an Americorps member in San Jose, Calif., working on efforts to educate local youth on issues surrounding migrant farm workers. Her public service experience included work with female immigrants in Orange County, service with autistic children and their families, volunteer coordination at an orphanage in the Dominican Republic, chairmanship of a student group committed to the advancement of women’s rights domestically and internationally, and service on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation in Heart Butte, Mont.
During her time at MDC, LeElaine worked primarily on the Latino Pathways project and the Program for the Rural Carolinas. She continued to work at MDC for the three years following her fellowship year. In 2008, she received her master’s degree in city and regional planning with a concentration in community economic development from UNC-Chapel Hill.
She currently lives in Washington, D.C., and works for the Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED) as its state policy specialist. Building on her experience at MDC, she helps manage a network of state policy partners and provides technical assistance to states related to a range of policies focused on assets, entrepreneurship, and social insurance. Her years at MDC equipped her with a model of community-based change that she now applies to her work with states across the United States – one that focuses on the development of the leadership, knowledge, and capacity needed to share and advance prosperity and opportunity for families and communities in the South and beyond.