MeLena Hessel is associate director of policy at Elevate, a nonprofit organization that designs and implements programs that reduce costs, protect people and the environment, and ensure the benefits of clean and efficient energy use reach those who need them most. Hessel’s current focus is on the implementation of recent climate legislation in Illinois and ensuring it facilitates clean energy, clean water, workforce development, and healthy housing for people and communities across the state. In this role, she collaborates with a wide range of stakeholders, including frontline organizations, government offices, and private companies.
Prior to joining Elevate, Hessel was a senior policy advocate at the Environmental Law & Policy Center (ELPC), where she focused on clean energy access and development. Some of her favorite projects at ELPC included cofacilitating the Illinois Solar for All working group and efforts to revitalize the Chicago Pedway. Earlier in her career, Hessel worked on the global research and strategy team at LaSalle Investment Management and conducted water sustainability assessments for the Construction Engineering Research Laboratory at the US Army Corps of Engineers.
Hessel holds a master’s degree in urban planning from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Brandeis University.