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About Me – Elena Botella

About Me

After five years working in the credit card industry, I left to explore how debt and credit impact the lives of ordinary Americans from new angles.  At Capital One, I was a Senior Business Manager leading subprime credit limit increases, and a research agenda to improve the impact of lending decisions on the financial health of consumers. Despite (or maybe because of!) my industry experience, I’m not an apologist for big banks. I’ve seen how financial products, especially loans, can be the best or worst thing to happen to Americans. My work tries to understand what are the conditions — of the borrower and their circumstances, the product, or the alternatives available — that make Americans borrow money and then look back on the experience and say “that was the right choice for me.”

I’m now living in Washington, D.C. and am working as a freelance writer (along with taking on a few consulting clients here and there). You can see my freelance writing here. I’m also working on a longer project to better understand Americans’ experiences with unsecured consumer loans like credit cards, payday loans, and personal loans. I’ll be traveling around the United States conducting interviews from May through July of 2019 for that body of work. Here’s a map of where I’m going!

Before Capital One, I wrote for the Duke Chronicle and the Charlotte Observer, and did research and consulting for the Nkokonjeru Savings and Credit Cooperative.  I studied Math and Economics at Duke University, graduating as an Angier B. Duke Scholar in 2013.