Welcome to my page! After many years in California as a successful data science executive, I moved back to New Haven to run my company Data 2 the People from my hometown. We worked hard on the 2020 elections and now that Biden is president, my goal is to make a difference for people in my community. I'm excited to share this journey with you.
As a data scientist, I always try to listen and understand before I make conclusions. So although I have my own views about how New Haven needs to evolve, I’m speaking with residents across the city to understand the most important challenges facing the city and to understand if my experience and skillset can drive the change needed.
I grew up in New Haven and love our city. As a multi-racial, first-generation, progressive woman who launched a successful career on the foundation gained here, I’ve seen first-hand how New Haven can be a welcoming, diverse city providing great opportunities to its residents.
That isn’t true for everyone though.
We need smoother streets in New Haven, both literal and metaphorical. Many residents point me to a pothole in the road. Others point me to potholes in city government - the absence of quality after-school programs, distrust of police and terrible violence. The sad reality is that even prior to this pandemic there were families going to bed hungry in New Haven, and the challenges have only deepened.
Climate change threatens to flood our streets. While climate change isn’t top of mind for many residents now, COVID-19 taught us the importance of data, science and preparing for crises. The data is clear on what is coming, and we must act now to be a carbon neutral city.
I am optimistic that we can pave streets that lead us in new, exciting directions with the right political leadership. Data science and technology industries are booming. New Haven could lead in these fields, in particular in how we use data and tech ethically for the public good. We can build on the biotech industry already here.
Most importantly, we must stop making the potholes larger for black and brown people.
While we cannot prevent all the obstacles that may come on our path, we can ensure a smooth street beneath us, for all our residents. We have all the resources we need.
To start, I have taken on the role of Chair of the East Rock Community Management Team. I look forward to serving my community in this role and to work towards my vision of New Haven as a place where everyone has a smooth street to walk on, where people have food, safety, opportunities to learn, and a chance to find meaning in exciting work that matters.
I am excited for this vision for New Haven and will be dedicating my time to it. I would love to hear from you.
Dr. Elena Tej Grewal is a data scientist, small businesswoman, nationally cited education expert and multi-racial progressive leader. As Head of Data Science at Airbnb, Elena was a force for change, helping lead efforts to close a gender pay gap and end discrimination against Black customers. Elena will tackle inequities in New Haven’s health, wealth, education and public safety head-on.
From my conversations so far with New Haven residents, activists, and leaders, below are the top issues and top ideas for solutions.
Recent data story:
I knocked on the door of a two family home. "Who is it?" a woman's voice called out. She propped open the door and stood inside behind the screen, peeling off pieces of a string cheese.
"What are the top issues facing the city that you would like city government to address?"
At first she didn't have anything to say.
"What about schools? Crime? Is there anything that could be better?"
She paused and said quietly:
"I feel like everything could be better."
She told me that she and her children had been in and out of the homeless system; there weren't many options, and services had declined: "we need more shelters, more funding, help with childcare" she said. At the end of the month, her food stamps run out, and she worries about her family being hungry. Food costs have gone up. Everyone's food stamps run out at the end of the month, she told me. They say she should eat healthy but how can she afford to. Then, crime is awful. There are gunshots regularly outside her door, the police chasing, and she won't let her kids play at the playground nearby because she worries about safety. Then she pointed to the potholes in the street, tearing up people's cars, and the uneven sidewalk, tripping her children.
One thing she did like was her kids' school: they are patient and understanding, and she liked that they provide healthcare services at the school. Great work by this school!
Universal After-School Programs
3 Meals a Day for all kids
Data Science, Tech, and Climate education
Crime & Safety
Expand violence prevention
Track satisfaction and perception of racial bias with policing
Invest in cybersecurity (e.g. training to prevent phishing, stop spam calls)
Bike vision for New Haven & walkability
Expand retrofitting homes (e.g. install heat pumps)
Analyze waste and carbon emissions, set clear goals for reductions.
Improve feedback and listening between citizens and city government.
Appreciate our public servants & ensure good pay.
Set up better measurements and accountability, in collaboration with the community.
Pave more streets!