Jelena was born in the former Yugoslavia. Her mother, a college linguistics professor, instilled in her from an early age an abiding faith in the transformative power of education. That faith was tested when she immigrated to the United State at age 10 with no knowledge of the English language. The dedicated teachers of the Massachusetts and California public school systems proved to her firsthand the life-changing impact of high-quality instruction and left her with a lasting respect for the profession.
Prior to joining Educators for Excellence, Jelena served as chief advancement officer of KIPP LA Schools where she oversaw the management of fundraising, marketing, and public relations for a 14-school charter management organization. Before her work with KIPP, Jelena was operations manager for The Broad Center, a nonprofit organization supporting leadership talent in public K-12 education. There she first became directly involved in the education reform movement and pledged to dedicate her career to advancing educational equity. Jelena’s collective experiences inspired her to join E4E and support the teacher-led advocacy movement dedicated to ensuring that all students have access to an excellent education.
Jelena holds a bachelor's degree in criminal justice and international relations from Northeastern University and a dual master’s from Suffolk University in criminal justice and public administration.