Elyse GordonI’m a connector and community builder. I think deeply about how to make philanthropy more equitable, more responsive, and rooted in place. I encourage learning through formal classroom education and informal conversations, facilitated discussions and critical thinking.  My best work occurs when I am able to synthesize many of these interests: teaching, discussing, writing, collaborating celebrating and building community.

I hold a PhD in Geography from the University of Washington, where my research looked at the intersections between social justice philanthropy, poverty and politics. I now serve as the Program Manager for the Learning Network of Philanthropy Northwest, a regional member-oriented organization promoting more equitable and place-based philanthropy in the NW. I am an active member of the Relational Poverty Network, and served as a co-director with Imagining America’s Publicly Active Graduate Education network for the last 4 years. I taught as a pre-doctoral lecturer at the University of Washington Bothell for the last two years as a Community Based Learning and Research Fellow.

As a White, queer Jewish woman with extensive class privilege, I work to build alliances and community that hold me accountable to the most marginalized people of Seattle. I am a member of Social Justice Fund NW, Coalition of Anti-Racist Whites, and on the leadership team of Jewish Voice for Peace Seattle.


With training in urban political geography, I am well equipped to understand social and spatial inequalities and how these play out through the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors.  My dissertation research took a deep dive on social justice philanthropy, seeking to understand the limits and possibilities for transformation throughout the philanthropic process.

This site is an artifact of my projects at this moment. Some of these are more wholly academic, while others blend my academic and activist interests through my lived experiences. My CV highlights more of my traditional scholastic involvements and achievements. The ‘Collaborations’ has a cross section of different projects with local organizations.

When not in school, I am most likely cooking, and probably for friends. I spend a great deal of time trying to develop contemplative practice through reading, walking, cooking, yoga, meditation, and meaningful conversation with my chosen family in Seattle.

I strive to connect people and build community. Increasingly, this is through catalyzing conversations around creative philanthropy, small-scale giving, conversations about privilege and activism, and, always, through food. I hope our paths can cross either in Seattle or in the twittersphere.

egordon4 [at] uw [dot] edu


For most up-to-date reflections, see the home page of this website.

One response to “About

  1. Pingback: On Doing Development. Or, what I learned from Heifer International | Elyse Gordon - University of Washington Geography

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