Elena M. Paul is General Counsel (GC) and Chief Operating Officer (COO) for The Classical Theatre of Harlem where she supports the mission, governance, and activities of the organization. The GC role includes work related to nonprofit governance and corporate matters, strategic planning and risk-management, transactional work (negotiations and drafting) and intellectual property, labor and employment matters and the management of legal matters placed with outside counsel. In the role, she aims to balance and maintain the highest standards for the legal aspects of the role—risk management, governance, and deal negotiations—while ensuring that the critical mission of the organization is accomplished. In the COO Role, she oversees and directs the operations of the organization, including production, development efforts, administrative activities, and special projects. She also recommends and implements mission-oriented adjustments to business practices to reflect the changing environment within which content is produced, presented, and marketed.
Ms. Paul received her Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Davidson College, phi beta kappa, and her Juris Doctor from Harvard Law School. Ms. Paul was a Wasserstein Public Interest Fellow at Harvard Law School. She advises many arts and cultural organizations, including The Sculpture Center and The Center for Photography at Woodstock. She also acts as General Counsel for Alvin Ailey Dance Foundation. Prior to Ailey, Ms. Paul was the Executive Director of Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts (VLA). In addition to being VLA’s Chief Executive Officer, Ms. Paul represented clients at VLA on a pro bono basis, acting as general counsel and a legal advisor to arts and cultural organizations and individual artists. She served as a mentor for The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in its Arts in Crisis Program. For her alma mater, Davidson College, she is a member of The Art Collection Advisory Committee (ACAC) and leads the ACAC’s Diversity and Inclusion efforts. In addition, Ms. Paul joined the Board of Visitors for Davidson College in 2017. Since 2010, Ms. Paul has been an Adjunct Professor in the Producing and Documentary Programs at the New York Film Academy. Some of her other teaching included work for L’Accademia Teatro alla Scala in Milan, Italy, Fordham Law School in the Fashion Law Institute, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Pratt Institute of Art & Design, and Brooklyn Law School.