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Danielle J. Harris

2022 Fellow

Managing Director of Engagement and Innovation, Elemental Excelerator

United States

Danielle J. Harris is the Managing Director of Engagement & Innovation at Elemental Excelerator. Elemental is a new non-profit model for funding climate tech deployment. They are on a mission to redesign the systems at the root of climate change. Breaking down barriers to innovation alongside climate entrepreneurs provides Elemental unique insight into the policy, market, and technology interventions needed to rebuild systems to promote equitable practices, uplift people, and create truly sustainable communities around the world.  

Elemental’s approach to investing in startups is unique because they believe technology is only half the solution, and that the communities in which these technologies are deployed make up the other half. Alongside investment in technology innovation, Elemental also invests in gathering community wisdom from nonprofits, community-based organizations, and government agencies before making funding decisions. We understand that investing in community knowledge will enable us to decarbonize faster, center equitable solutions, and be better investors. 

Danielle J. Harris is a passionate advocate for environmental and racial justice. She believes a more inclusive and collaborative approach is the key to tackling big problems like social inequity and the climate crisis. Her overlapping, and at times contradicting, identities have empowered her to activate unconventional teams that together develop people-centered, innovative solutions. Danielle leads with empathy because an acceptance and understanding of differences will support more equitable social structures and sustainable environments. 

Danielle is a natural at finding Elemental’s audiences; her authenticity, vulnerability and humor captivates and inspires people to reimagine their lives, cities, and society. Over the past five years, Danielle has spoken at over 100 national and international tech, civic and academic forums, promoting equity-focused civic and climate tech innovations. As Managing Director of Engagement & Innovation at Elemental Excelerator, she invigorates individuals’ hearts and minds to achieve an equitable and resilient transition of markets, environments, and neighborhoods in response to the climate crisis.  

Previously, Danielle led Elemental’s mobility strategy as Director of Mobility Innovation, enhancing the breadth and depth as well as founder diversity of the portfolio, ensuring technology solutions relevant to all people’s lived-experiences have an opportunity to thrive in the market. Prior to joining Elemental, Danielle had a nine-year career as a city planner for the City and County of San Francisco where she focused on community engagement and increasing investment in neighborhoods most in need. During this time, she witnessed first-hand the impacts of tech on the communities. This experience led to her shaping the SFMTA’s first Office of Innovation — a unique team rooted in genuine curiosity, collaboration, and inclusion responsible for assessing, piloting and integrating emerging technologies in San Francisco and ultimately facilitating the city’s relationship with private tech companies. 

Harris’ organization supports the following SDGs:

SDG 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure

SDG10: Reduced Inequality

SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities)