My personal and professional journey spans the globe. Born in the USSR, I was educated in post-socialist Ukraine and in the United States. After I completed my MA in Linguistics at the University of South Carolina in 2005, I taught in teacher education colleges in China and the United Arab Emirates. In 2015, I received my PhD in Curriculum, Instruction, and Teacher Education from Michigan State University. I was also awarded a graduate certificate in qualitative methodology. My dissertation research was recognized by the Outstanding Dissertation Award from the American Educational Research Association (Division K: Teaching and Teacher Education) as well as by an honorable mention from the Council of Anthropology and Education of the American Anthropological Association.

After two years as a Post-doctoral Research Scholar at Arizona State University, I joined the Department of Educational Foundations, Leadership, and Technology at Auburn University. Currently, I am working on projects that explore neoliberal technocratic policies that are reshaping teacher education worldwide. David Berliner and I have co-edited a special issue of Education Policy Analysis Archives titled “Navigating the Contested Terrain of Teacher Education Policy and Practice.” With the support of American Fellowship from the American Association of University Women, I  conducted a research project that examined how intermediary organizations construct and disseminate knowledge for teacher education policies.

Across my scholarship and my teaching, I pursue the goals of racial, decolonial, and linguistic justice. In recognition of these commitments, I was selected as a 2016 Concha Delgado Gaitan Presidential Fellow and received an honorable mention for the Douglas Foley Early Career Award from the Council on Anthropology and Education, American Anthropological Association.

In my free time, I enjoy reading, taking long walks, swimming, and cooking.

In July 2016, I changed my first name from Olena to Elena. I use both Elena and Helen in my daily interactions.

Protest against educational reforms, Russia, December 2013