Over a 20-year career, Fersan has dedicated herself to improving policy and changing lives through international program development, advocacy, and fundraising. She worked with national and international agencies and nonprofits, including the U.S. Department of State, the United Nations, and local governments in the U.S., Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa (MENA). Fersan’s work focuses on women, LGBTQ, housing, and immigrant rights in the U.S., Lebanon, and MENA.
Fersan joined the East Bay Asian Local Development Corporation (EBALDC) in 2021 as its first Executive Vice President of Resource Development and Communications. Her role focuses on securing the next 50 years of this community anchor by designing and implementing a groundbreaking capital campaign and transforming its resource development model.
Fersan is the founder and CEO of Global Nexus Solutions, LLC, a Los Angeles-based consulting firm specializing in global public affairs and social impact. Fersan advises agencies and governments, including the U.S. Department of State, the Dutch and French governments, and multi-national organizations. Her work covers fundraising, campaigning, policy reform, advocacy, strategic planning, and designing public-private partnerships. She trains diplomats, nonprofit executives, and advocates on global migration, gender inclusion, coalition building, fundraising, governance, and mobilization. She has a portfolio of $20 million in fundraising throughout her career. She represented marginalized communities from the MENA region at the Universal Periodic Review Week at the United Nations in Geneva.
Fersan’s scholarship and thought leadership focused on immigration and climate migration. She was the director of the Immigrants and Global Migration Initiative at the University of Southern California (USC), Gould School of Law (2018-2020), and an Adjunct Professor of History at the American University of Science and Technology Beirut (2008-2012).
Fersan’s accomplishments include investigating and exposing a sex trafficking network of LGBTQ Syrian refugees and passing the first public non-smoking ban in a city in the MENA region. She advised national organizations on advocacy campaigns that successfully reformed policies, giving women equal custody rights, increasing their political participation by 50%, and facilitating access to standardized contracts and paid leave for migrant domestic workers in Lebanon.
She served as a senior program manager for the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, U.S. Embassy of Beirut (2009-2014). She advised three U.S. Ambassadors on Human Rights and policy reform and managed a yearly multimillion-dollar grant portfolio. During her tenure, Fersan designed and executed the first comprehensive mission-wide engagement strategy with the LGBTQ community and regional institutional strengthening programs for women-led NGOs.
Fersan worked at the United Nations Populations Fund (UNFPA) regional office in Amman, Jordan, as Assistant Regional Communications Director of Eastern Europe and Central Asia (2008). She wrote several features about People Living with HIV, forced labor of migrant workers, female genital mutilation, and LGBTQ rights. She served as the assistant secretary-general of the MENA Catholic schools (2005-2008), led the 2006 post-war relief efforts for impacted Catholic schools in south Lebanon, and drafted the MENA Catholic education strategic plan and institutional reform guidelines for the Vatican commission on education.
Fersan was lauded for launching and directing the Youth and Culture Center (YCC) of the city of Zouk Mikael (2008-2014), winning regional and international accolades for building a grassroots organization to national and regional prominence. She received the Guangzhou 2012 Global Deserving Initiative award for contributions to urban human development, including job creation, promotion of rural creative industries, the passage of the first public smoking ban in MENA, and increasing women’s political participation.
Fersan received many prestigious awards for her efforts in the fields of development, Human Rights, women’s empowerment, immigrants, and LGBTQ rights from the U.S. Department of State (2010, 2012, 2013, 2014) and the Dutch Foreign Ministry (2014, 2015, 2016). She is a Global Woman Leader Eisenhower Fellow (2015) and named one of UNESCO’s Top 40 Lebanese Women from the Grassroots. She is a 2021 Out in National Security Fellow, a McGrath Fellow at the University of San Francisco (2022), and a 2020 Truman Security Fellow. Most recently, Fersan received commendations from the Los Angeles Mayor (2019) and the LA County Supervisor (2020) for her work on immigration in Southern California. She served on the Biden LGBTQIA Policy Committee (2020).
Fersan is Lebanese American. She is a master’s candidate in Public Leadership at the University of San Francisco (Class of 2023). She graduated Magna Cum Laude from the Holy Spirit University of Kaslik (USEK) – Lebanon, earning a master’s degree in History. She received her BA in History from the USEK. She lived in Lebanon, Jordan, Canada, and the United States and traveled to 20+ countries. Fersan is fluent in French, English, and Arabic, with working knowledge in Spanish.
What People Say About Me…
“Eliane is a transformative leader, with a clear vision & ability to develop strategic outcomes while collaborating with & leading her coworkers & external stakeholders towards mutual goals.”
The Hon. Former CA State Senator Martha Escutia, VP of Government Relations, University of Southern California (USC).
“Elle Fersan is a visionary, committed, inspiring, enthusiastic, and a compassionate leader dedicated to a world that works for all, especially in the areas of the global refugee crisis, women and human rights.”
Barry Simon, President, the United Nations Association of the USA, Southern California Division.
“Elle is a strategist who brings analysis for critical systemic change while crafting plans for concrete steps to bring it to life today.”
Brie Loskota, ED, Center for Religion and Civic Culture, USC.
“In a world of brutal inequality, Elle is a masterful connector with a perspective that inspires cooperation & hope.”
Jordi Ortega, Filmmaker, TORO BRAVO.
“Passionate leader driven by a deep belief in social justice & equity. She is a person of integrity, an amazing networker & incredible team player.”
Dina Sherif, ED, Legatum Center, MIT.
“Elle is a creative leader who gets the job done. She is passionate about driving an inclusive agenda where equity is central.”
Dr. Linda Lopez, LA Mayor’s Chief of Immigrant Affairs.
“Elle is an outstanding leader with a strong global vision. She was one of the top candidates selected for our Women’s Leadership Program in a competitive pool in 2015. She is an excellent public speaker and since her fellowship has given back to Eisenhower Fellowships by speaking at conferences and serving on EF’s newly formed Los Angeles Steering Committee. She is a dynamic passionate leader.”
Erin Hillman, VP of Programs and Operations, Eisenhower Fellowships.
“… I’ve never worked with anyone who was brighter than Eliane. She has it all: the knowledge, the vision, and the communication skills. She is extremely passionate about what she does and very generous in the help she gives. I have learned a lot from Eliane over the years and know I will continue to learn.”
Dr. Omar Fattal, MD, MPH
Deputy Medical Director, Behavioral Health. NYC Health and Hospitals
“Elle Fersan is a passionate, committed leader with the vision, intelligence and energy to move big ideas forward.”
Kate Weber, Executive Director, Public Exchange, University of Southern California
“Eliane is a powerful and visionary female leader, an excellentnetworker and connector and a dedicated internationaldevelopment professional with a strong passion for human rights.I enjoyed working with her, she is an asset to any team.”
Baukje Dijkstra, Diplomat, Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs
“In all of our work together, Elle looked at situations of injustice and saw the potential for how to challenge the status quo, and importantly brought others along with her due to her energy and spirit of possibility.”
Robyn Barnard, Esq. Staff Attorney at Human Rights First
“For me, the best aspect of working with Elle is that I can always feel safe and certain that she will find a way to accomplish any task or project she takes on.”
Jack Harrison-Quintana, Vice President for Social Impact, Executive Director, G4E