Elena Whitham was raised in Quebec, Canada, having emigrated from Scotland with her family at the age of six.
She attended university in Montreal, and campaigned in support of the 1995 Quebec independence referendum. She had become a supporter of the principle of sovereignty after being given a copy of The Proclaimers album Sunshine on Leith in 1988.
She earned a degree in journalism, and returned to Scotland in 1996 to work freelance in local media. She then worked in community support roles in Ayrshire, where her family has deep roots.
For over ten years she was a Scottish Women’s Aid worker in Ayrshire, assisting victims of domestic abuse.
In 2015, Elena was elected as a councillor for the Irvine Valley ward in East Ayrshire where she held the position of Depute Council Leader, Cabinet member for Housing and Communities and Cosla Spokesperson for Community Wellbeing before being elected to the Scottish Parliament in 2021 to represent the constituency of Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley in her native Ayrshire.
In March 2023, Elena became the Minister for Drugs and Alcohol Policy. She is married with two children.