Elana Aquino



Elana Aquino is the U.S. Executive Director at Peace Direct with twenty years of experience in international development and peacebuilding, including seven years in East and Southern Africa and The Sudans, along with firsthand knowledge of Latin America and the Caribbean. Her commitment to being of service as a practitioner and academic in the field of global peacebuilding along with her passion for unleashing human potential is the driving force in her career. Elana has experience in both peace and security along with diplomacy and a portfolio of strategic and operational leadership and impact in both areas. She worked on South Sudanese IDP return issues and as a Peace Building Program Officer. She focused on supporting locally driven women’s empowerment initiatives, recognizing women as a crucial factor in solidifying peace gains. In Kenya, she was rapidly promoted from researcher to Head of the key coordination secretariat between the government of Kenya and 17 international development agencies. She led the production of the national joint assistance strategy for Kenya, targeting her strengths: facilitation, communication strategies, supervising teams of experts, website development, research, data and risk analysis, benchmarking global best practices and nurturing partnerships. She organized the first National Development Partnership Forum in Kenya co-chaired by the Prime Minister and the regional Head of the World Bank, with participation from the key multilateral and bilateral agencies in the region.

As a first generation American, the child of immigrant parents from the Caribbean, she is passionate about global peacebuilding, conflict transformation and prevention, and poverty reduction. She is committed to being part of a generation and a movement that leaves a legacy of peace, reconciliation, and harmony, not only for fellow humans but also for our dear Earth. She is an ICAP (International Career Advancement Program) Fellow, a Fellow of the International Peace and Security Institute (IPSI) and a board member of Women of Color Advancing Peace, Security, and Conflict Transformation (WCAPS).