Elizabeth Hausler, Ph.D.

Founder & CEO

Dr. Elizabeth Hausler is the Founder and CEO of Build Change and a global expert on resilient building and post-disaster reconstruction. Elizabeth’s strategic direction and leadership has grown the organization from a few employees in 2004 to over 230 strong working on three continents in 2018. Her emphasis on rebuilding to withstand future disasters has distinguished Build Change from its peers, won international honors and profoundly influenced global development policy by making resilience a major consideration for reconstruction efforts in an era of ever-increasing natural disaster risks.

From the organization’s Denver, Colorado headquarters, Elizabeth leads fund development efforts and builds corporate and industry partnerships.  Elizabeth oversees policy advocacy efforts, design and construction operations, as well as the organization’s capacity building efforts with builders, NGOs, and local government and relief agencies around the world.

Elizabeth and Build Change won a 2017 Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship and in 2018, Elizabeth received Berkeley’s Campanile Excellence in Achievement Award, which recognizes alumnae with the vision, drive, imagination, and skill to change lives among the school’s alumnus.  Since 2014 she has been a member of the University of California, Berkeley Civil and Environmental Engineering Department’s Academy of Distinguished Alumni.

Prior to starting Build Change, Elizabeth won a Fulbright fellowship to India to study and assist with housing reconstruction following the 2001 Kachchh, Gujarat earthquake. It was here that she developed a methodology – Build Change Theory of Change – for ensuring vulnerable communities globally are empowered to build permanent safe housing in the wake of disasters. Elizabeth has spent significant time abroad in disaster zones, including Indonesia, Japan, Haiti, China, and Iran.

Elizabeth learned brick, block and stonemasonry from an early age, working beside her father Don Hausler, a stonemason and builder in northeastern Illinois. After her undergraduate work at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Elizabeth received a M.S. in environmental science from University of Colorado and subsequently an M.S. in civil engineering from the UC-Berkeley, before achieving a Ph.D. in Civil Engineering at UC-Berkeley, majoring in geotechnical engineering with minors in structural engineering and seismology.

She is the recipient of numerous professional honors. In 2011, she was named US Social Entrepreneur of the Year by the Schwab Foundation, and won the Lemelson-MIT Award for Sustainability that same year.  She is a 2004 Echoing Green Fellow, a 2006 Draper Richards Kaplan Fellow, and a 2009 Ashoka-Lemelson Fellow. Build Change won the 2008 Tech Award for Technology Benefiting Humanity in the Equality Category for making earthquake-resistant housing solutions available to homeowners regardless of income level.

She has lectured on disaster resistant construction in venues around the world and she and Build Change’s work have been featured in some of the world’s leading media outlets, including The New York Times, BBC News, Elle Magazine, ABC News and Bloomberg Businessweek. She has written or co-authored technical resources and advocacy blogs and has served on the World Economic Forum (WEF) Global Agenda Council on Risk and Resilience.