Elena first set foot in Jordan as an undergraduate on an archaeological field project in Aqaba. It was the beginning of countless life-long obsessions, both personal and professional.
She holds a PhD from the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago, where she specialized in the history of the modern Middle East, particularly the narratives woven by archaeology and related sciences in contexts of colonialism, nationalism, capitalism, and resistance. Her book, Competitive Archaeology in Jordan: Narrating Identity from the Ottomans to the Hashemites, was published by the University of Texas Press in 2014.
Prior to AMIDEAST, Elena was Center Director at CIEE in Amman from 2012-2017. Before that, she was on an academic career path at both Penn State University Erie and the U.S. Naval Academy, where she was involved in numerous initiatives to get students to study abroad in the region, including program and curriculum design and implementation. A former CASA, ACOR, CAORC, and Fulbright DDRA fellow and the first program coordinator for CLS in Jordan (before it was even known as CLS!), Elena is deeply passionate about mentorship and enabling for others the same kinds of opportunities that have been so critical on her own journey. She loves and misses the classroom, writing, and being engaged in academic fieldwork, but she finds great meaning and fulfillment in getting students studying abroad in the Middle East. Since returning Stateside, Elena has deeply missed being a “field person,” but has enjoyed the opportunity to become more broadly engaged as a professional in education abroad. In addition to having the honor of joining FIE’s Academic Advisory Council, she has recently been elected to Forum Council.