Elise Stefanik was born in Albany, New York, in 1984 to Melanie and Ken Stefanik. Her parents own Premium Plywood Products, a wholesale plywood distributor based in Guilderland Center. She is of Czech and Italian descent. After graduating from the Albany Academy for Girls, she entered Harvard University, graduating with a degree in Government in 2006. While at Harvard, she received an honorable mention for the Women's Leadership Award. On January 11, 2021, the Harvard Institute of Politics removed Stefanik from its Senior Advisory Committee in the wake of the deadly riot at the U. S. Capitol five days earlier, pointing to her unfounded claims of voter fraud in the November election. After graduating from Harvard, she joined the administration of President George W. Bush, working as staff to the Domestic Policy Council. Stefanik worked in the office of the White House Chief of Staff for Joshua Bolten, Bush's second deputy chief of staff. She also helped prepare the Republican platform in 2012, served as director of new media for Tim Pawlenty's presidential exploratory committee, and worked at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Foreign Policy Initiative. Stefanik managed Wisconsin congressman Paul Ryan's debate preparation during the 2012 presidential election. Following the Romney–Ryan loss in the 2012 presidential election, she returned to upstate New York, and joined her parents' business.