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. While still in high school, she started work at a local radio station “Russkoe Radio,” on a program about local and regional culture. Simultaneously she was learning vocal technique at the Oryol Musical School, and was a freelance journalist for local publications. In 2000 she graduated at the age of 17 from a local school for gifted children. She then went on to study Journalism at Moscow State University Journalistic Department, School of Radio and Television, paying her own way through school.
Although her decision to drop any musical activity was highly influenced by her family, at the time she agreed that following a career in journalism was the best decision. So she became a special news correspondent as she covered business, politics, and military stories. During her career as a journalist, she interviewed hundreds of people, including many Russian government officials. She even covered the sinking of the Kursk, a Russian Nuclear Submarine, and the tragic Belsan School hostage crisis and massacre. As a result Defense Minister Ivanov honored her for her contributions to the portrayal of the Russian Armed Forces through her work as a military journalist. As a special correspondent in the largest state news agency, RAM RIA Novosti, she followed some foreign language courses in Japanese at the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs; and later worked as a correspondent in State Duma and the Bureau of RIA Novosti in Tokyo. She subsequently became a member of the Russian Japanologist Association.
After 2006 Alya left RIA Novosti and presented programs on an independent news radio station, while collaborating with an independent newspaper, Kommersant, and a state TV channel, Vesti 24 (now Russia 24), where she was a freelance correspondent. She was attending Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO) when she graduated with a Masters Degree in Economics in 2008. Afterwards she worked as a Press Secretary of a Vice-Speaker of the Russian State Duma. In 2010 she became the leader of the media department of the Supporters of United Russia. Since United Russia is the largest political party in Russia, she participated in organizing presidential elections there. At the same time she worked as a consultant for SeverEnergia, an Italian-Russian gas joint-venture, where she was the head of the PR group.
Between 2011 and 2012, Alya came back to journalism, as a news presenter for state radio station Mayak, then decided to concentrate on her family life. When she is not volunteering at her daughter’s school, or helping her husband, retired spine surgeon and philanthropist Gary K. Michelson, manage his charitable organizations, she is practicing her love of the arts with an experimental music project whose inaugural music album is currently being produced by American producer David J. Holman. Besides being a musician, a singer and a songwriter, she 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 two rescued dogs.
Alya & Gary Michelson, C.L. Max & Niki C. Nikias; USC Michelson Center Announcement [2014-01-13] (Photo Credit: Steve Cohn).
Yannis C. Yorstos, Alya & Gary Michelson, Steve Kay; USC Michelson Groudbreaking luncheon [2014-10-23] (Photo Credit: Steve Cohn).