Lena Selzer

Co-founder & Senior Director


As Co-Founder and Senior Director, Lena is focused on building an organization that pulls Civilla’s mission forward and enables each member of the team to do their best work. Sometimes referred to as Civilla’s ‘air traffic controller’, Lena’s superpower as a leader is her ability to integrate the organization’s operations, design work, storytelling, and teaching – ensuring it all aligns and ladders up to our long-term vision. Alongside the team, Lena developed Civilla’s design practice from the ground up. She plays an integral role in scaling its impact through fundraising and partnerships, working alongside institutional leaders toward a shared vision for a better future.

Before co-founding Civilla, Lena entered the design field with a background in environmental science and research. Through her fieldwork, Lena saw the importance of understanding human behavior when solving challenges so that solutions are designed to fit into people’s lives. This brought Lena to the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford (the to study human-centered design. There, she met Civilla co-founders Adam and Michael, and together, they started dreaming up the organization that exists today.

Lena holds a BS and MS from Stanford University and has spent over ten years committed to social impact design. She consulted on a range of design projects in Ghana, Cambodia, England, and India, and built her own consulting practice in the U.S. which she ran until founding Civilla.

Lena was raised in the Pacific Northwest where she spent as much time in the outdoors as possible. She laughs (a lot) and has completed three coast-to-coast trips across the United States – once by bike, once by car, and once living out of a vintage Airstream trailer named Milly.