Alya and Gary Michelson back initiatives close to their hearts, including protecting animals, bringing higher education into the digital age and supporting scientific innovation (Credit: John Livzey. USC Trojan Family).
Alya Michelson, was born “Alevtina Schepetina” on July 4, 1983 in the former USSR town of Oryol, Russia. As a child, she excelled in school and was recognized on multiple occasions with special grant awards only reserved for extraordinary students and awarded to gifted students.
While in high school, she authored a regional culture program aired on local radio station “Russkoe Radio” and also collaborated with local publications as a freelance junior writer.
After graduating from high school at the age of 17, Alya went on to study Journalism at the Lomonosov Moscow State University via its Department School of Radio and Television whom she graduated from in 2005.
Starting 2001, as a special news correspondent for the Russian State Agency RIA Novosti, Alya covered business, political and military matters. Among her notable pieces, her coverage of the sinking of the Russian nuclear submarine Kursk and of the Belsan school massacre brought to her the recognition of Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov. Subsequently, she was honored for her contributions portraying the Russian Armed Forces (RAM) in the Russian press. She later became the RIA Correspondent at the State Duma (lower house of the Russian Parliament) before moving to the RIA Novosti Tokyo office in Japan. Alya subsequently became a member of the Russian Japanologist Association.
In 2006, Alya left RIA Novosti. While collaborating with the independent newspaper Kommersant and acting as freelance correspondent for the state TV channel Vesti 24 (now Russian 24), she presented programs on an independent news radio station. From 2006 to 2008, Alya attended the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO) and graduated with a Masters Degree in Economics.
Over the next four years, she worked as a press secretary for Valery Yazev, the Vice-Speaker of the Russian State Duma (2009), became the leader of the media department of the supporters of United Russia (2010) and acted as news presenter for the state radio station Mayak (2011-2012).
In 2013, Alya moved to the United States where since, alongside her husband, retired spine surgeon and philanthropist Gary K. Michelson, she helps manage his charitable organizations such as the Found Animals Foundation and the Michelson 20MM Foundation.
Through her participation in the Found Animals Gala for the past five years and the USC Michelson for Convergent Bioscience inauguration on November 1st, 2017, Alya has become an integral part of the Michelson Philanthropy effort.
Having demonstrated a proclivity for music since early childhood, Alya is a gifted musician, singer and songwriter, having studied at the Oryol Musical School. She practices her love of music and the arts through an experimental music project. In addition, Alya is an accomplished artist in oil painting, a gourmet chef, a ballet dancer, a skilled snow skier and a slalom water skier.
Alya is fluent in Russian, English, Japanese and Ukrainian. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, Gary K. Michelson, their three children, and three rescued dogs.