top of page

Elizabeth Brown Riordan (she/her)

“At its core, our job as investigators is to help an organization understand not only what happened that resulted in a report or complaint, but also to assess the systems and context that contributed to the situation.  In searching for answers, we can’t lose sight of how the process, when done well, can contribute to the healing of individuals and the organization as a whole. Expert in trauma and stress Dr. Levine argues,‘trauma is not what happens to us, but what we hold inside in the absence of an empathetic witness.’ A good investigator can be that empathetic witness.” 

More About Elizabeth

Elizabeth’s practice focuses on investigation where questions on unfair or inappropriate performance management are prominent, where investigations may intersect with grievance or other CBA-related protections, and where the subtleties of identity-based micro-aggressions are relevant. She is not an attorney.


Elizabeth has investigated claims of harassment, identity-based discrimination, mistreatment, and violence in workplace, housing, public accommodations, and criminal contexts.   Elizabeth has also worked closely with government (including the DOJ, Public Defenders, CIA, various state and local health agencies and education entities), political campaigns (federal and state), corporations (including Pepsi, Johnson & Johnson, and KPMG), foundations (Emerson Collective, Chan Zuckerberg, Ford Foundation) and mission-driven for-profit and non-profit organizations (including Center for American Progress, Brennan, Brookings, United We Dream, Greenpeace).  Elizabeth also was an OPEIU shop steward and represented multiple individuals in a CBA-governed grievance process before later representing management interests.  Elizabeth draws heavily on the diversity of her experiences in supporting clients and helping to identify potential solutions to their challenges. 

Training & Education

B.A., Vassar College

Case Investigator, D.C. Public Defender

Case Investigator, US Department of Justice


Bar Admissions

Elizabeth is not an attorney and is not licensed to practice law.

(202) 768-9662

  • LinkedIn


Elizabeth began her career with the DC Public Defenders Service There, she was assigned primarily homicide investigations, and at DOJ, Elizabeth led multiple investigations including two complex, multi-year investigations. One of her cases concerned race-based discrimination in rental housing case in Mississippi with more than 50 harmed parties and resulted in the largest civil settlement in a race discrimination case in Mississippi history. A second involved sexual harassment and assault of senior women in Sec. 8 housing that led to a pretrial settlement that protected vulnerable women from having to testify at trial. Through her work, she established expertise in building trust with often reluctant participants in investigations, understanding the ways trauma can impact memory and testimony, and in shepherding complainants and witnesses through long and complex processes. Post DOJ, Elizabeth spent 7 years in a volunteer-based membership organization that supports queer folks and their families in advocating for state and federal policy change on issues such as marriage, employment protections, and changes to the foster care system. As part of her tenure, she co-developed a program, Straight for Equality, that educates employees in the workplace on LGBTQ+ issues and gives would-be allies the tool to advocate on behalf of the LGBTQ+ community. Her experience training employees on LGBTQ+ issues give her the ability to talk to and understand employees with a wide range of understanding and perspectives on LGBTQ+ issues, which has served her well in investigations involving gender identity, gender expression and sexual orientation. Prior to co-founding Ramona Strategies, Elizabeth was a trainer and executive coach while building and managing the training team at The Management Center, a non-profit committed to better management practices in mission driven organizations. As part of this work Elizabeth trained more than 1000 mission driven organizations, unions, and foundations on management practices such as delegation, effective feedback, equitable hiring, and performance management and how they intersect in the workplace with equity, inclusion, and belonging. Her expertise in investigations that involve claims of unfair or inappropriate performance management (feedback, reviews, terminations) comes from the practical work of building and managing a large, diverse team and coaching leaders in difficult performance management situations for more than a decade. Early in her career Elizabeth served as a Shop Steward for a 501c3 organization where she successfully negotiated a contract (CBA) and represented multiple staff members in grievances. She went on to later manage within a unionized environment, taking the lead for management on renegotiating a collective bargaining agreement and serving as the management lead for the labor committee. Her experience both as a member and leader in a union and as a senior leader working with the union gives her a practical understanding of the complexities of investigations in unionized environments and those that can intersect with grievance or potential grievance. Elizabeth has successful conducted multiple investigations where building trust with unionized employees was essential to win-win solutions for management and staff. Elizabeth was a Luce Scholar in Thailand where she worked for an indigenous rights organization, Inner Mountain Peoples Education and Culture of Thailand (IMPECT) where she worked on citizenship rights for indigenous people in northern Thailand. Elizabeth is still waiting for the day where her Thai language skills will come in handy in an investigation, but in the meanwhile, her experience working in Thailand along with numerous trainings with international NGOs has deeply informed the investigations that involve cross-cultural issues. Elizabeth is the proud mother of three complex but delightful children; a partner to recovering political consultant; a Pilates instructor in training (in her abundant free time); and a prolific reader of what her mother calls “trash novels”. In 2020, after years of complex medical problems, Elizabeth was diagnosed with a genetic disorder that impacts almost every system in the body. She is happy to discuss managing a dynamic disability while working, parenting, and partnering with anyone whose interested!

bottom of page