OUR TEAM

Our Team 2017-12-15T21:42:39+00:00

SHALINI VAJJHALA

FOUNDER & CEO

Shalini has an interdisciplinary background with over a decade of experience in green design, engineering, economics, and policy. Before starting re:focus partners, Shalini served as Special Representative in the Office of Administrator Lisa Jackson at the US Environmental Protection Agency. In this position, she led the US-Brazil Joint Initiative on Urban Sustainability (JIUS) announced in March 2011 by Presidents Obama and Rousseff. The JIUS was a signature initiative of the June 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), demonstrating how environmental protection can serve as a driver for economic growth and job creation in building the greener economies and smarter cities of the future. Previously, Shalini served as Deputy Assistant Administrator in the Office of International & Tribal Affairs at the US EPA and as Deputy Associate Director for Energy and Climate at the White House Council on Environmental Quality. She joined the Obama Administration from Resources for the Future, where she was awarded a patent for her work on the Adaptation Atlas.

Shalini received her PhD in Engineering & Public Policy and B.Arch in Architecture from Carnegie Mellon University, and was also a visiting associate professor at Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies, where she designed and taught a course on Case Studies in Sustainable Development. She is currently a nonresident senior fellow with The Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Program.

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ELLE (BEARD) HEMPEN

PARTNER

Elle has a background in public policy, and has focused most of her career on finding innovative and interesting partnerships between government and the private sector. Prior to joining re:focus and managing the RE.invest Initiative, Elle served as Special Assistant in the U.S. EPA’s Office of International and Tribal Affairs where she helped develop and manage a number of programs including the US-Brazil Joint Initiative on Urban Sustainability, the Tribal EcoAmbassadors Program, and EPA’s efforts to promote innovative environmental technologies that can protect the environment while also helping to build the US economy.  Recently, Elle co-founded The Atlas Marketplace, a free online resource build to help cities more easily learn from each other as they upgrade infrastructure systems to be smarter and more resilient.

Elle is an MBA candidate at UCLA’s Anderson School of Management, and received her B.A. in Public Policy with a focus on Globalization and its Impact on Cooperation from the University of Michigan Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy.

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ELLORY MONKS

PARTNER

Ellory has extensive experience working directly with city leaders and stakeholders to identify and implement opportunities to solve complex problems, like local flooding and redevelopment. Ellory oversees several re:focus projects, including Build it Green, an initiative that works with New Jersey cities and utilities selected through a competitive application process to design and finance innovative stormwater management projects. Most recently, she co-founded The Atlas Marketplace, which launched a free online resource for cities around the world to learn from each other as they upgrade infrastructure systems to be smarter and more resilient. Prior to joining re:focus partners and founding The Atlas Marketplace, Ellory held a fellowship at the Science and Technology Policy Institute, where she provided analytical and technical support to the Obama Administration’s White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) on a wide range of infrastructure, energy and environment issues.

Ellory has a B.A. in Civil & Environmental Engineering and Public Policy with a minor in Water and Energy Sustainability from Rice University.

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JAMIE RHODES

SENIOR FELLOW

Jamie Rhodes is an expert in risk mitigation strategies that fall at the intersection of policy, technology, and project development.  He is a Senior Fellow at re:focus partners and a Co-Principal Investigator of the RE.bound Program. Jamie also serves as President of the Embori Group LLC, which includes several firms engaged in developing near-term approaches to reduce CO2 emissions and mitigate associated climate risks.  Jamie’s work in these fields spans 16 years and includes roles in academia, in the private sector, and as a grantee on projects designed to advance the public interest.  He is an entrepreneur who holds multiple patents and has founded and built multiple successful enterprises across diverse industry segments. Jamie earned a Ph.D. in Engineering and Public Policy from Carnegie Mellon University, and worked as a Post-Doctoral Researcher at Scripps Institution of Oceanography and then as a Staff Researcher at U.C. Davis. 

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ALEKA SEVILLE

PROJECT MANAGER

Aleka focuses on assessing needs, understanding barriers, and developing policy solutions to advance community resilience. She has consulted for nonprofits, foundations, and local, regional and federal government agencies, and has specific interest and expertise in the value of cross-sector collaboration to leverage scarce resources, align goals and implement strategic policy solutions. Aleka joined re:focus partners to lead a new Kresge Foundation supported initiative designed to address and overcome barriers to procuring resilient infrastructure solutions, particularly in communities with aging legacy water systems.

Prior to joining re:focus, Aleka worked for Four Twenty Seven, Inc., a climate adaptation consulting firm where she led projects for cross-sector clients focused on issues such as mitigating the public health impacts of extreme heat in California, assessing the state of the US climate change adaptation field and evaluating opportunities to engage technology companies in local climate change adaptation planning. Aleka received her Master’s of Public Policy from UC Berkeley’s Goldman School of Public Policy and holds a B.A. from UC Santa Cruz.

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Whenever I run into a problem I can’t solve, I always make it bigger. I can never solve it by trying to make it smaller, but if I make it big enough I can begin to see the outlines of a solution.

— Dwight D. Eisenhower (attributed)