Elise Bo Ciacci is a committed nonprofit professional with over a decade of experience in the international and higher education sectors. Prior to her selection as a National Urban Fellow, Elise worked at the Institute of International Education (IIE) from 2014 to 2023, where she devoted her time to supporting scholars and artists from around the world. Most recently, Elise served as a Fulbright Regional Program Officer for Europe & Eurasia/South & Central Asia, where she managed a complex portfolio of Fulbright Programs in over 13 countries. As part of her role, Elise worked closely with the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs (ECA), U.S. Embassies abroad, and binational Fulbright Commission partners to ensure the achievement of country and Fulbright Program congressional priorities and goals. Elise’s leadership was pivotal in the onboarding of the largest Afghanistan cohort in Fulbright history in August 2021. Before her work with Fulbright, Elise served as a Program Officer for the Artist Protection Fund, where she supported artists facing threats of persecution due to their practice, identity, or beliefs. In this role, she helped to establish long-term residencies for threatened artists by cultivating relationships with key stakeholders.
A Peace Corps Volunteer in the Kingdom of Morocco from 2011-2013, Elise gained extensive cross-cultural experience and developed a deep appreciation for building meaningful relationships. Placed in a rural village in the desert plain of the Sahara, Elise spearheaded community development initiatives focused on health education and gender development. Her efforts included organizing health campaigns, youth camps, and English classes aimed at promoting the overall well-being and empowerment of the community. Fully immersed in the local culture, she learned the Amazigh language, Tashelhit, and gained a thorough understanding of the customs and practices in the region.
In 2010, Elise graduated from the University of Central Florida (UCF) with a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations and Comparative Politics and a minor in Nonprofit Management. While at UCF, she gained invaluable insight into the importance of grassroots organizing and community development. Elise served as Vice-President of VOX (Voices for Planned Parenthood), where she led fundraising and lobbying efforts for reproductive justice, health, and education. She also mentored in the Young Women’s Leadership Program and volunteered with Rock for Hunger, an organization that used music and education to inspire individuals and end the cycle of hunger and poverty in downtown Orlando. Elise is a recipient of the Florida Bright Futures Scholarship Program.
During her free time, Elise served as a member of IIE’s Asian and Pacific Islander DEIA Affinity Group and as a founding board member of the bi-national dance company, Dance Theatre Surreality, which produces feminist dance and theatre works. As a National Urban Fellow, Elise hopes to gain a greater understanding of how to effectively utilize soft power to create a more inclusive ecosystem of access and support for historically marginalized communities.