Elise McGlothian Becomes Minerva’s Newest Director! 

Our team is delighted to announce that Elise McGlothian is now a Director at Minerva Strategies! 

In late 2019, Elise made a big career change—from TV news to the nonprofit sector—bringing her storytelling skills gained as a producer to a new role advocating for positive change on Capitol Hill with the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network. Like so many others, the COVID-19 pandemic cut Elise’s time short with her new employer after a series of layoffs, sending Elise back on the hunt for a new opportunity that fit her desire to work in the social impact space. 

Elise came to Minerva Strategies through a serendipitous series of interactions with Minerva’s Founder and President Joy Portella on LinkedIn (thank you, LinkedIn, for your suggested people algorithm and profile view notifications!). After conversations moved from social media to Teams video calls, Elise got the sense that this opportunity was a unique one. She took the leap, and we are all so grateful she did. 

I admire so many of Elise’s qualities—from her solid project management style to her passion for people and stories. Looking to the Minerva principles, I’ve always thought Elise embodied “valuing questions over answers” better than anyone. She’s never shied away from curiosity or seeking others’ perspectives when facing a challenge because she knows that solutions developed through authentic collaboration are always the strongest and most sustainable. That’s one of many reasons why I am thrilled that Elise is stepping into a new leadership role at Minerva Strategies—we need more leaders like her. 

I sat down with Elise to reminisce about her time at Minerva, where she’s seen the organization grow, and her favorite memories from the past three years. We also talked about her hopes for Minerva’s future, and let me tell you, it’s a bright and shining one with Elise on our team! 

Kayla: You’ve been with Minerva Strategies for more than three years now! How has the organization changed since you started? 

Elise: The growth that we’ve had is a very clear change: we’ve brought in some awesome people with very different perspectives. We’ve spent a lot of time trying to find the right mesh of people who can challenge each other’s’ thinking and don’t have similar backgrounds to one another so that we’re able to collaborate and really get new fresh ideas. 

We’ve always had an equity focus, but the “how” we’re going about that has really evolved. We brought in CoCreate Work and LTHJ Global to help challenge our thinking and biases. Over time, I’ve also seen us evolve our efforts beyond producing collateral for clients. Now, our conversations internally and with clients are focused on building a more equitable society and how we can support our clients’ work to do that.  

Elise stands by a banner that reads "Congrats Grad" wearing a stole that says "Minerva MVP"
This year, Minerva’s “MVP” graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a master’s in nonprofit leadership!

Kayla: In what ways have you changed and grown during your time with Minerva? 

Elise: I am more confident in my skill sets and abilities. Transitioning from TV news to a communication-centric job was a big challenge. I was quite nervous and scared because I built up such a great resume had all these great colleagues and networks from people at the Today Show to people at Good Morning America. 

I’ve also become more discerning about the type of people that I want around me and with whom I personally want to work. Now I’m making connections with people that are doing really good work and people that I enjoy being around as opposed to just being worried about trying to just grab the dollars because they’re out there. 

Academically, I’ve finished my master’s degree in nonprofit leadership, which I did during my time at Minerva. I was intentional about getting a nonprofit-focused degree and not a communications degree because I already had a background in journalism, and I really wanted to expand my horizons. We tend to work with a lot of nonprofits, foundations, and social impact organizations. It’s helped me to understand what our clients are going through. 

Gaby and Elise sit on the couch talking and Crystal sits in a chair listening in.
Gaby, Elise, and Crystal hard at work during Minerva’s Chicago retreat

Kayla: What is your favorite Minerva memory? 

Elise: The 10-year anniversary party would be my favorite. We brought in all our partners—all of these former clients, current clients, people that had just known about Minerva—and had really supported Minerva throughout the years. Going back to that aspect of community building was an eye-opening moment for me because I saw the community that Minerva had created throughout the years, and that was just really awesome to be a part of and experience. It was very humbling to see. 

Sara and Elise stand smiling
Sara and Elise at Minerva’s 10-year anniversary party

Kayla: What excites you about becoming a director at Minerva? 

Elise: I’m excited to invest more of myself into this company. To me, becoming a director means being in a more front-facing leadership position and really taking ownership of the things that our company is producing. It’s also about being able to share and articulate Minerva’s value and really championing the organization. I’ve always been super proud to work at Minerva, and that’s because we have an amazing team and work culture. 

I know my responsibilities will evolve and grow, and I’ll think more strategically about where Minerva is currently, what our legacy will be, and what direction we will go. Finally, I’m thinking about how we can grow the organization, not necessarily in terms of team size, but in terms of impact. 

Sara, Dori, Gaby, Falisha, Caroline, and Kayla smile with virtual backgrounds that read "Congratulations, Elise! Minerva's new Director." Elise smiles and holds a mug that reads "kind of a big deal."
Our team couldn’t be prouder of our new Director—we’ve got the virtual backgrounds to prove it!

Kayla: What are your hopes for Minerva as we move into the future? 

Elise: After coming into Minerva, I’ve always had the mentality that I don’t want anything negative to happen to it. Minerva is like a special gem! I’m a champion of it, I’m protective of it, and I pour myself into it.  

This is really a unique place to work, and it’s introduced me to so many people that I would have never otherwise had the chance to meet. Working with the Minerva team has really expanded my own thinking in terms of issue areas, and it’s challenged beliefs that were instilled in me at a young age, too.  

Whomever we bring onto the team next, whether that’s a partner or an employee, or whatever programs we start to develop, these people and programs must add to our equity focus and challenge us all to be better people. 

Read Elise’s announcement in the Washington Business Journal and wish her congratulations!  

About The Author

Kayla McMenamin

Kayla McMenamin

Kayla has a strong affection for storytelling and an aptitude for translating complex topics into sharp messaging. While her career began more than a decade ago in strategic communications, an insatiable interest in everything health inspired her to return to school to study disparities research and behavior theory. Learn more about Kayla.