NAME: ELYSE PROPIS, 28
HEBREW NAME: Esther
CURRENTLY LIVING IN: New York City
ALMA MATERS: Cohen Hillel Academy ’04, Swampscott High School ’08, Washington University in St. Louis ’12
JOB: Regional Operations Lead, Restaurant Innovation at Uber
FAVORITE FOOD: Ice cream. My obsession was probably fueled by the warm cookie dough topping at Terry’s in Marblehead.
FAVORITE MUSIC: I love all kinds of music, but my favorite genre is probably pop [Ed Sheeran, Sam Smith, Bruno Mars, Beyoncé]. I also love listening to show tunes [especially “Hamilton”] and Disney songs.
FAVORITE BOOK: “The Nightingale” by Kristin Hannah.
FAVORITE MOVIE: “When Harry Met Sally.”
FAVORITE TV SHOWS: “Game of Thrones,” “Billions,” “Westworld,” “Silicon Valley.”
FAVORITE TRAVEL DESTINATIONS: My favorites so far have been New Zealand, South Africa, and Japan. And of course, I’ve loved my visits to
Israel – especially Tel Aviv.
FAVORITE JEWISH PERSON NOT IN YOUR FAMILY: Ben Platt from “Dear Evan Hansen.”
FAVORITE JEWISH HOLIDAY: Hanukkah.
BEST HANUKKAH GIFT: Years ago, my parents took me on a trip to London over the holiday break to see Idina Menzel in “Wicked.”
WHAT WAS YOUR JEWISH BACKGROUND GROWING UP?
Judaism has played an important role in my life. I grew up actively engaged with the North Shore Jewish community, and my most impactful early Jewish experiences were my nine years attending Cohen Hillel Academy and my 11 years attending Camp Pembroke. At Hillel, Judaism was baked into the curriculum – we learned Hebrew for part of the day, participated in tefillot [prayer], and celebrated Jewish traditions. At camp, we observed Shabbat each week, sang Jewish songs, and had Israeli counselors. Most of my friendships growing up were made through these Jewish organizations, and I am still close with many of my childhood friends today.
YOUR MOM, DIANE KNOPF, REMAINS A FORCE IN THE LOCAL JEWISH COMMUNITY.
In addition to the Jewish things I was exposed to through my own experience, I was also defined by my mom as a role model in becoming more involved in the communities. My mom left her corporate job sometime in my early teens, and from that point forward started getting involved in just about every Jewish organization on the North Shore. Through this, she developed a community and a reputation, and it’s one that I definitely look up to and try to emulate. This is probably why I got involved in our Jewish organization at Uber.
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT YOUR WORK AT UBER?
I joined Uber in March of 2014 as one of its first 600 employees [for reference, we now have more than 20,000]. Given my passion for food, I jumped at the opportunity to join Uber Eats as one of its first employees. Now I manage a team overseeing a program called Virtual Restaurants. Through VR, we seek to uncover gaps in the marketplace between supply – available restaurants on Uber Eats – and demand – what eaters are searching for. With this data, we help restaurants spin up new, delivery-only menus to fill these gaps. We have now scaled to more than 2,000 VRs across the globe, connecting eaters with the food they crave, while helping restaurants grow and reimagine their business.
Many large corporations have Employee Resource Groups, or “ERGs,” which serve as communities to promote diversity and inclusion and foster a sense of belonging. I joined the Shalom ERG at Uber, and a couple years ago raised my hand to become more involved in the leadership. I currently serve as a member of the board and as the co-chair of the event committee, which means I coordinate different events across local offices [Uber has offices all around the world]. In addition to co-chairing that committee, I lead the New York City office chapter of the ERG. So for example, I planned a Hanukkah party, and I’ve organized a number of different Shabbat dinners and other types of get-togethers.
WHAT WAS IT LIKE TO BE PLACED ON THE 2019 FORBES 30 UNDER 30 LIST FOR CONSUMER TECHNOLOGY?
Every year, Forbes recognizes 30 people under 30 years old across 20 categories. I was recognized in the Consumer Technology category for my work building Virtual Restaurants. I knew I had been nominated by Uber, but I didn’t know I was included on the list until the morning it was published. I feel extremely honored.