❍ Year of graduation: 1987
❍ Field of current or former occupation: NGO
Question: What is your current occupation and where do you live? Please briefly describe your duties and responsibilities. How long have you been at this position?
Elizabeth Kellison: I live in Seattle Washington, and work at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. I am a deputy director on the Financial Services for the Poor team, which works to make digital financial services widely accessible to poor people throughout the developing world. I also lead a body of work on the FSP team focused on improving women’s access to and usage of digital financial services, in the belief that a woman’s control over financial assets empowers her economically and socially, and leads to better outcomes for her and her household.
Question: Did studying Russian language and culture at Williams help you in your professional and personal development? If yes, then how were Russian Studies were useful to you? What opportunities and challenges did the Russian major open up for you both specific to your current occupation and more generally?
Elizabeth Kellison: Studying Russian at Williams opened up a whole world of a unique language and literature to me that I continued to pursue after Williams. I took over a Russian Language program at a private school in Los Angeles, and spent 7 wonderful years helping impart my love of Russian language and literature to students from 7th through 12th grades. I also ran an exchange program with a high school in St. Petersburg.
Question: Please share your advice or recommendation about the Russian department at Williams to a prospective student who is considering taking courses or majoring in our program.
Elizabeth Kellison: I think the biggest thing I would tell them is not to be too obsessed with wondering how a Russian major will help make them employable — just the fact that they have studied the language and literature at a place like Williams will open many doors for them.
If you would like to write to Elizabeth Kellison, please contact Baktygul Aliev.