Elizabeth Cisar

Portrait of Elizabeth Cisar

Notice: Elizabeth is on leave. Effective May 24, 2021, she will be serving for one year as a senior adviser in the Office of Water at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, returning in May of 2022. In her absence, the Foundation’s Great Lakes and Drinking Water portfolio will be managed by Molly Flanagan

Elizabeth Cisar is a Co-Director of the Environment Program at the Joyce Foundation. She leads the Foundation’s grant making on drinking water and Great Lakes issues. The goal of the Foundation’s water portfolio is to ensure all people in the Great Lakes region have clean water from lake to tap by supporting policy to address threats, improve infrastructure, and remedy water disparities in communities of color. Elizabeth co-chairs the Great Lakes Funders Collaboration and serves as a Liaison for the Environmental Health Matters Initiative at the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine.

Before joining Joyce in 2015, Elizabeth was Environment Program Director at the Crown Family Philanthropies, Director of Land Conservation Programs at Grand Victoria Foundation, and the Director of the Great Lakes Office of The Conservation Fund. In those roles, Elizabeth worked with landowners to protect land for hunting, fishing, parks, and recreation and developed voluntary programs to protect clean water. An attorney, Elizabeth also has practiced law in the nonprofit and commercial sectors. She clerked for Judge William J. Bauer on the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals. Elizabeth holds a J.D., magna cum laude, from Northwestern University, and a B.S. in Marine Science and Biology from the University of Miami.

More related to Elizabeth

Policy Watch

Getting the lead out

Illinois lawmakers mandate that utilities replace toxic lead water lines, a decades old threat. New legislation provides for state grants and technical assistance and prioritizes communities at highest risk–Black and Latino.

Policy Watch

Energy efficiency

Under-resourced communities in Minnesota soon will receive a jolt of financial support for energy efficiency, thanks to newly passed legislation to help the state achieve its decarbonization goals equitably.


Foundation’s Cisar to advise EPA on water

The Foundation is excited to announce that Elizabeth Cisar, co-director of our Environment program, has been invited to serve for a year as a senior advisor in the Office of Water at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).


Lake Michigan’s Hidden Threats

Featuring op-ed columns by Elizabeth Cisar, co-director of the Joyce Foundation’s Environment Program, and several Joyce grantees who focus on water issues.

Policy Watch

Keeping out carp

With new funding and approvals, planning and design is moving forward on a long-envisioned, comprehensive project to help block invasive Asian carp from reaching the Great Lakes.

Research Report

Toxic Threat in Federally Assisted Housing

New study reveals widespread exposure to Superfund sites, decades of environmental racism.


Cleaner, Healthier Transit Systems

Op-ed: COVID-19 should spark sustainable planning

Grantee Spotlight

COVID-19 Stories: Keeping the Lights On

The challenge is getting through the door. When the COVID-19 crisis hit, it posed a unique problem for accelerating efforts to make household energy more efficient and affordable.