Katherine Ellena holds a master’s degree in law focused on medical law and bioethics. As part of her research, she focused on ethical decisions public health systems face during times of crisis as well as during the introduction of new medical technology, and has published in various medical and legal journals, including on the regulation of health practitioners. As part of a diploma for graduates in international development from the University of London’s London School of Economics, she has also examined humanitarian ethics during health and security crises. As part of her role as IFES senior global legal advisor, she is currently researching the impact of government emergency powers on anti-corruption measures, and building on her prior work in the development of IFES’ Executive Curriculum in Electoral Leadership (iEXCEL), she is spearheading the development of a new tabletop exercise and simulation focused specifically on elections during epidemics and pandemics.
As the International Foundation for Electoral Systems' (IFES) senior global legal advisor, Katherine Ellena is responsible for providing strategic leadership and technical assistance to IFES’ work on legal and regulatory frameworks for elections, electoral dispute resolution and electoral integrity. Ellena also manages IFES’ expanding anti-corruption portfolio, which covers issues such as political financing, abuse of state resources and judicial integrity.
Ellena provides direct technical legal assistance to IFES’ field programs globally and has worked with election commissions, tribunals, courts, government interlocutors and civil society in over 20 countries over the past 15 years. This has included direct assistance to legislative and regulatory drafting – including a suite of new election laws in Nepal following the passage of the 2015 Constitution – as well as training of lawyers, commissioners and civil society stakeholders. She also spent two years in New Delhi, India, with the IFES “Gender and Law” program.