Director, People + Operations
Umoja Student Development Corporation
Elizabeth Kesner is a nonprofit professional providing strategic people and operations leadership to Umoja Student Development Corporation. Elizabeth founded and leads the organization’s People + Operations Team in nurturing the internal logistical, relational, and strategic conditions that will enable Umoja to meet its social impact goals. Rooted in direct student Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) service-provision in Chicago Public Schools, Umoja is expanding its impact nationally by investing in sustainable adult learning, practices, and mindsets that equip a community of educators who drive whole-school SEL capacity building.
Before Umoja, Elizabeth spent 11 years with United Friends of the Children in Los Angeles, California, an organization that supports youth and young adults who have experienced foster care by providing housing and education services. As a United Friends college counselor and program manager, Elizabeth supported college students in navigating the complexities of college life on their own. Her 16 years of experience in the nonprofit sector have cemented Elizabeth’s commitment to helping social impact professionals and organizations be their best to do their best.
A native West Virginian from small-town Appalachia, Elizabeth focused on African American history as an undergraduate student at the University of Virginia. She obtained a master’s degree in educational foundations from California State University, Los Angeles and a certificate in human resources management from the University of California, Los Angeles. Elizabeth lives in Chicago, Illinois with her incredible spouse and two mischievous cats.