Renee Roy Elias, Ph.D.

Executive Director

Renee Roy Elias, Ph.D. is the Executive Director of the Center for Community Innovation (CCI), UDP's umbrella research center, where she guides the strategic direction and management of the center and oversees the design and implementation of its core research agenda. She is also currently a Lecturer at UC Berkeley’s Department of City and Regional Planning and a strategy consultant for community development leaders in the Bay Area. Previously, she served as the Director of Research and Advisory Services at the Build Healthy Places Network where she led major research initiatives on social determinants of health metrics and client projects to support partnerships between the community development, finance, and health sectors. Renee also worked extensively with community-based organizations to improve access to healthy foods in low-income communities and communities of color. This includes her work as an urban designer and planner at the Remaking Cities Institute and the STUDIO for Creative Inquiry (both at Carnegie Mellon University) where she developed urban agriculture design strategies for a reclaimed brownfield site and initiated an award-winning grocery store project in Pittsburgh’s Hill District, respectively. Renee formerly served as an adjunct faculty member at Carnegie Mellon University where she taught both undergraduate and graduate-level courses on urban food systems. 

She has published academic articles and reports on social determinants of health indicators, the healthy communities movement, and the impacts of housing revitalization on neighborhood change. Renee holds a PhD in City and Regional Planning from UC Berkeley; a Master of Science in Nature, Society, and Environmental Policy from the University of Oxford, England; and a Master of Urban Design and Bachelor of Architecture both from Carnegie Mellon University.