Anita Estell


Anita suggests that she entered the world a pioneer – when she became the first girl born into a family that already included five older brothers. A younger sister would soon follow her in helping to diversify the family’s gene pool.

Her pioneering tendencies emerged full-bloom as history-making achievements during her student years and over the course of her life’s work on Capitol Hill and the private sector. Her bona fides as a presidential appointee, lobbyist, an equity owner of a national law firm, business owner and institution-builder are well-established. At the core of her journey is a passion for empowerment and engagement programs that transform lives, organizations and communities. Her successes on behalf of those with whom she has worked approximate $40 billion. The number of people benefitting from her efforts are measured in the millions, and represent economically, ethnically, physically, age, politically and gender diverse communities across the US and abroad.

Most recently, she founded CELIE (the Civic Engagement and Leadership Institute for Everyone) a social impact organization harnessing and sharing the best of next practices in three primary areas that need and invite innovation: civic engagement, leadership development, and diversity and inclusion. CELIE’s offerings range from basic advocacy training, workshops and convenings, and more advanced educational collective impact civic engagement activities, to high-potential globally-relevant diversity, inclusion and leadership programs, exchanges, convenings and training modules that successfully engage public and private sector leaders, women and persons from diverse communities in the US and abroad. CELIE’s essence reflects Anita’s deep and abiding appreciation for all people, and understanding the relevance of good citizenship and inclusion, whether in the public or private spheres of engagement.

Anita also founded and leads the only full-service government affairs firm owned by a woman of color in Washington, DC and chairs ROSA PAC (Raising Our Sisters Political Action Committee). ROSA PAC is the only national PAC solely focused on women of color seeking election to Congress.

Mastering her craft, through her work on the House Appropriations Committee for former Congressman Louis Stokes; at the US Department of Education as a senior advisor to the Secretary of Education; as a principal at Van Scoyoc Associates and equity shareholder at Polsinelli PC, Anita is passionate and well-prepared to share what she knows with others. She is a former columnist, radio show host, and author of The Power of Us: How the US Government “Really” Works and How to Get it to Work for You.

Anita received a certificate from the Harvard Kennedy School of Public Policy Women and Power Executive Leadership program and obtained her Bachelor of Journalism and Juris Doctor degrees from the University of Missouri. While at Mizzou, she made history at the age of 18 and gained national attention for her efforts when she challenged the status quo as the first African American woman to rush the all-white sorority system.

Anita is a member of the Board of Directors for the Congressional Management Foundation and Board of Trustees for Fisk University. She also served on the Board of Directors of the Johnnetta B. Cole Diversity and Inclusion Institute, and the Association of Governing Boards Task Force on Diversity.

Anita lives in Washington, DC.   In her spare time, she enjoys long walks in Rock Creek Park with her dog, Kati; spending time with family and friends; meeting people, listening to music; and taking road trips in her sports car.