Henry Elkus is Founder and CEO of Helena. He cares immensely about creating systems that can be leveraged to enact global, scalable, and systemic change. Henry dropped out of Yale in his second year to lead Helena full time.
Helena is a global problem solving organization. Its purpose is to identify potential solutions to critical global problems and directly implement them through individual projects. Helena’s past and current work has addressed elements of climate change, governance reform, exponential technologies, existential risk mitigation and more.
Helena’s “America in One Room” (A1R) project was one of the most significant political experiments in American History. A1R brought the most representative sample of the United States electorate ever assembled to a single location for a four-day deliberation on the most critical issues facing the country. The project and its publicly-released results were globally covered, including in a front-page, special feature of the New York Times that featured portraits of nearly every participant. Cited by global leaders including Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton as a needed method to address structural issues in modern democracy, A1R looks to continue expanding its reach domestically and internationally.
In response to COVID-19, Helena led two projects. During the early months of the pandemic, Helena addressed critical breakdowns in the supply chain of vital protective equipment, directly purchasing/financing and routing over 37 million masks, gloves, gowns and other PPE into the hands of frontline workers across nearly 100 hospitals and care facilities throughout the US. In parallel, Helena built The Covid Network, a real-time data platform quantifying COVID’s spread across the United States and current PPE needs for individual hospitals. The platform was quickly adopted by health systems and suppliers across the country, including the US Army and Air Force.
Through its for-profit arm, Helena operates projects to address system global issues through investment, company building and more. Helena is a major investor and operating partner in Energy Vault, a breakthrough technology in grid-scale energy storage that produces high round-trip efficiency, variable duration and cost competitive gravity storage systems. Energy Vault, which can manufacture their systems with remediated toxic waste, has secured agreements on four continents.
Helena’s second project, “Shield,” catalyzed state and federal action to help protect the North American electrical grid from threats due to solar storms and cyber-attack, including a 2019 Presidential Executive Order. It’s first project, “Factory in the Sky” supported the launch and scale of the world’s first commercial carbon capture plants.
Helena works alongside a small group of exceptional leaders called Helena Members. The members represent Helena’s core ability to analyze global trends and problems, source and develop potential solutions to those problems, and implement those solutions. The members include Four-Star Generals, artificial intelligence experts, Fortune 100 CEOs, Nobel Peace Prize and Scientific Laureates, Academy Award Winners, former CIA Directors, leading Academics, NGO Leaders, explorers, and more.
Outside of Helena, Henry serves as Social Entrepreneur in Residence at The Boston Consulting Group and a Special Advisor to the Berggruen Institute. He also was named to the 2020 Forbes 30 Under 30 list.
At 18, Henry became the youngest panelist on the Wall Street Journal’s online “experts” panel on small business. Until 2014, Henry competed internationally as a ski racer.