Elizabeth Ramaccia



What brings her to WWWH:

Elizabeth is a trained city planner and architect who has spent most of her career exploring the role of social capital – that is, individual capacities and relationships – in driving place-based social change and economic development. She brings a depth of experience in community engagement, capacity building, and social innovation to Why We Work Here. 

Previously a strategist at Purpose, Elizabeth focused her portfolio on local movement building and public education. She co-developed the strategy for the organization and technology platform Minha Sampa (“My São Paulo”), which mobilizes citizens of São Paulo to solve major urban issues in their city. She also worked with leading education nonprofits and national foundations to support greater teacher and parent leadership in local and state-level policy conversations.

Elizabeth has led community-based design projects at a housing nonprofit in rural Alabama, and served as a community engagement consultant to the Aga Khan Development Network in Gujarat, India. Her prior research focused on the role of the creative process in building community capacity for social change in under-resourced American communities. She has a Master of City Planning degree from MIT and a BA in Architecture from Washington University in Saint Louis. 

Why is WWWH is worth her time:

“I grew up outside of Buffalo – a post-industrial community where the advice often given to young people (sometimes explicitly) was ‘if you can, get out.’ This isn’t a narrative unique to Buffalo – young people hear this in towns and cities across the US. 

We tell young people that they need to leave their hometowns in order to have any real future for themselves – but if that’s the case, what will the future of these places look like – if they have one at all? If places want to thrive socially and economically, they need to take a close look at the narratives that are pervasive locally. 

Here’s an alternate narrative: The very places that many see as challenge-ridden are actually rife with opportunity. Those who choose to chart a path forward are in for a great adventure, with a chance of leaving the planet a lot better than they found it.

Seeing challenges as opportunities takes a community-wide mindset shift, and I believe that education is the most powerful tool we have for supporting this shift and achieving truly inclusive transformation.“