On June 13, surrounded by family and friends, Elena Brineman passed away in Washington, DC from complications of metastasized breast cancer after a 22-year-long battle. She was a consummate foreign assistance professional, wonderful sister, caring aunt, a lover of beautiful things, a life-long learner with curiosity about everything, and had a practical and down-to-earth attitude about life.
Elena was born in Bogota, Colombia of American parents, Elena and Jack Brineman. The family had moved to Dallas, TX, Guatemala City, Guatemala and Calgary, Alberta, Canada by the time Elena was ready for college. Elena received her BA in Biology from Whitman College, Washington, and her Masters in Nutrition from Oregon State University at Corvallis.
She started her foreign assistance career in 1976 as a member of the research staff for the Nutrition Institute for Central America and Panama in Guatemala. In 1977-78 she also took on being Food and Nutrition Advisor, USAID/San Salvador, El Salvador. From 1979-81, she served in Washington, DC as Regional Food & Nutrition Adviser for the Bureau for Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), USAID, before returning to Guatemala from 1981-85 to serve as Regional Food and Nutrition Officer for Central America and Panama, USAID/ROCAP. She then served at ROCAP as Acting Deputy Mission Director before moving to DC to serve as Deputy Director for Technical Resources, Development Resources Office, LAC Bureau from 1989-92. Elena spent a year as a student at the National War College and then moved to Honduras where she spent seven years, first as USAID Deputy Mission Director and then as Mission Director. For her service in 1998 to the people of Honduras in the aftermath of Hurricane Mitch she was awarded the highest honor given by the Honduran Government. In 2000 she became USAID Mission Director in the Dominican Republic. She was appointed to the Faculty of the Army War College in Carlisle, PA in 2006, and became Director of the Office of Military Affairs in Washington, DC, from which she retired in 2011. Her lifelong dedication to foreign assistance was level-headed, fact driven and balanced by her desire to leave people and places better than she found them.
She is remembered with love and respect by her sister, Anne Anderson; her nieces, Laurie and Kelley Anderson; nephews, Geoff Anderson, and Keeley and Chuck Brineman; and also by the loving family of Scott and Kathy Brineman, Tammy, Bob, Tina, and their children. She is also remembered by great-nephews, Evan and Alex, and great-nieces, Gia, Charlie and Perrin, as well as by friends around the world. A website has been established for friends and family to share memories at www.forevermissed.com/elena-l-brineman. The memorial service will be on August 11th, from 2-5 PM at the Josephine Butler Parks Center,2437 15th St. NW, Washington, DC 20009. In lieu of flowers, please consider donations to one of the following organizations that were close to Elena’s heart: Save the Children (www.savethechildren.org), The Riverside Nature Center (www.riversidenaturecenter.org), or Project SHARE (www.projectsharepa.org).