Elissa is a third-generation Michigander whose early life was shaped by the time she spent on her family farm in Holly, Michigan. Her family story is one of hard work and sacrifice, starting with her great-grandfather. He immigrated to the U.S. and achieved his American Dream by founding the family meat business, Hygrade Foods, which established its headquarters in Detroit in 1949. Hygrade created a number of food staples beloved by Michiganders, including the famous Ballpark Frank, first sold at Tiger Stadium. The values of hard work, decency, and integrity that underpinned his success were passed down from generation to generation, ultimately guiding Elissa into a life of service.
Elissa has dedicated her career to serving the country she loves. She happened to be in New York City on September 11, 2001, and by the time the dust cleared, Elissa knew she wanted to go into national security to protect our homeland. She was recruited by the CIA to be a Middle East analyst, and within a year she was sent on the first of three tours in Iraq alongside the U.S. military.
Her time in a combat zone led her to national security roles at the White House, where she worked as a civil servant, for whoever was the Commander-in-Chief. Elissa worked for President Bush as a member of his national security staff and was asked to stay on when President Obama took office. In the Obama Administration, she helped negotiate some of the Pentagon’s most sensitive national security matters from the fight against ISIS to the U.S. response to Russian aggression. No matter the issue, the values Elissa learned growing up in Michigan – a straightforward, common-sense approach – were what helped her succeed as a national security leader.
But the reason she first decided to run for office was more personal: her mom. Elissa’s mother died of ovarian cancer in 2011. She struggled to afford healthcare for years because of an early case of breast cancer, and at the time, the insurance companies had gouged her for years based on that pre-existing condition. The same month that the family got her mother’s terminal diagnosis and was desperately trying to get her life-saving care was the same month that they were also filling out the paperwork for her to declare bankruptcy. Protections for people with pre-existing conditions and the exorbitant cost of healthcare and prescription drugs got Elissa into politics, and it remains one of her top priorities.
Elissa has spent her time in Congress working on the issues that she hears about most from people across Michigan: bringing down the skyrocketing cost of prescription drugs, bringing critical supply chains back to the U.S., creating jobs with dignity, and getting money out of politics. Now, she’s ready to fight for all of Michigan’s working families in the U.S. Senate.