The Center for Economic and Community Engagement has promoted Elli Travis to senior economic development specialist. Travis has worked for the center – formerly the Office of Economic Development – for seven years, joining in 2015 as an economic development specialist.

Throughout her time at the center, Travis has collaborated with a variety of university and community partners on economic development and evaluation initiatives across Virginia and beyond.

Some of her projects including evaluation capacity building and impact analysis for GO Virginia Region 2, an outdoor analysis and development plan for the Mt. Rogers Region, and ongoing monitoring and evaluation of several US EDA-funded economic, workforce, and community development programs including Catalyst, the University Center Cohort Program, and the Virginia Seafood Agricultural Research and Extension Center. Elli is especially adept at working with community groups to envision, plan, and evaluate their work in a way that respects their values and their stakeholder needs.

“I had the privilege to be on the committee that recommended Elli to be hired as a specialist,” said Marty Holliday, executive director of the New River/Mt. Rogers Workforce Development Board. “She showed such energy and promise then and has not disappointed in all of these years. Elli worked very closely with our staff on the evaluation for the Pathways to the America’s Dream project and she facilitated our Strategic Thinking Retreat this past summer. Her skills and talents continue to grow. She’s a joy to work with and I am looking forward to having her help us with many projects to come.”

Outside of her work with the center, Travis volunteers as president for Downtown Christiansburg Inc., a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the town of Christiansburg as a vibrant community center, following the National Main Street Model. You can often find her networking at community events, playing trivia with friends at local breweries, enjoying mountain trails on a bike or by foot, and shopping at local farmers markets.

“I’ve gotten to work in the field with Elli from everywhere from Southwest Virginia to Bangladesh,” said Executive Director John Provo. “I’ve been pleased to see her growth as a researcher and as a partner in helping communities prosper.”

Originally from Washington, DC, Travis graduated from Indiana University Bloomington in 2010 with bachelor’s degrees in Economics and Slavic Languages and Literatures. She received her master’s degree from Virginia Tech in Agricultural and Applied Economics in 2015. She will receive her PhD in Agricultural, Leadership, and Community Education from Virginia Tech with a focus on impact evaluation in 2023.