Meet Fellows from the 2018-19 Class of the Alfa Fellowship Program

Cultural Vistas is pleased to introduce the Alfa Fellowship Program’s 16th class of fellows. The 16th class consists of 14 emerging leaders from across the United States, United Kingdom, and Germany in the fields of energy, economics, urban planning, risk and communications consulting, public policy, sports and finance journalism, and arts and culture.

Fellows completed four months of intensive language tutoring in their home countries and then spent the summer in Moscow continuing their language training, while also attending lectures at the Higher School of Economics and participating in business meetings with private and public sector leaders. At the start of the program, fellows enjoyed a visit to St. Petersburg and a boat trip to the island monastery of Valaam, which is only accessible by water.

Before starting the work phase of the program in October, fellows visited Kaliningrad in late September, where they had the opportunity to meet with the consul general of Germany and the governor of the region. In Moscow, fellows had meetings with U.S., U.K., and German ambassadors, the chief editor of the Ekho Moskvy radio station, and the chief economist of Alfa-Bank, among others. Highlights in the upcoming program year will include a trip to Georgia in December and a special “Fellowship Day” celebration this winter, in addition to the daily professional and cultural immersion of spending 11 months in Moscow.

Meet American fellow Gillian Kemmerer

Gillian came to the Alfa Fellowship Program from New York City, where she was an anchor and the U.S. head of programming at Asset T.V. Gillian was able to combine her areas of expertise in finance and sports journalism to cover the 2016 Olympics in Brazil. She didn’t miss her shot during the 2018 World Cup either, getting to meet soccer players from all over the world and seeing historic matches first-hand.

Gillian started her work placement this month at Kontinental Hockey League (KHL), where she works as a correspondent for Kunlun Red Star, the league’s newest expansion team. Additionally, she is a contributor to the Russian newspaper Sport Express, interviewing foreign hockey players competing in the KHL.

Gillian earned a Master of Science at the London School of Economics in International Management and a Bachelor of Arts at Columbia University in Economics. In addition to her work at Asset T.V., Gillian has been a hedge fund reporter at Absolute Return Magazine and a Sports Business Consultant at GlideSlope.

Alfa Fellowship Program's 16th Class of Fellows
Gillian with AFP fellow, Christianna Bonin, at the 2018 World Cup match between Russia and Spain.

Meet British fellow Nicole McNeilly

Nicole came to the Alfa Fellowship Program from the U.K. by way of The Hague, where she worked at Europeana Foundation, the European Commission-funded digital cultural heritage platform. There, she had the opportunity to work with colleagues from 20 different countries as well as partners across the EU and beyond.

Nicole continues to bring culture, people, and policy together during her work placements at RUSH Initiative/the British Council, the European Union National Institutes for Culture (EUNIC) Moscow Cluster, and PwC. At these organizations, Nicole will focus on projects that involve international cultural relations and exchange between Europe/the U.K. and Russia, as well as the promotion of creativity and creative industries as a generator of economic, political, educational, and social value. At Rush Initiative/British Council, Nicole will work on the program evaluation of the 2019 U.K./Russia Year of Music, as well as a residency program for U.K. and Russian musicians. At PwC, she will add her experience to a team of experts in creative industries evaluation and development in Russia. Drawing on her most recent experience in digital heritage for the Moscow EUNIC cluster, Nicole will develop and promote a digital music pack for a Russian music-making audience, promoting some of Europe’s lesser-known and difficult-to-access masterpieces.

Nicole earned a Master of Arts in Culture, Policy, and Management at City University, London as well as a Bachelor of Arts in Music at the University of Glasgow. Prior to working at Europeana Foundation, Nicole was a policy and research officer at the Arts Council England and a grants coordinator at PRS for Music Foundation.

Alfa Fellowship Program's 16th Class of Fellows
Nicole at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow.

Meet German fellow Georg Hiemann

Georg came to the Alfa Fellowship Program from Berlin, Germany, where he worked as an Advisor on Energy Policy & International Affairs at Wintershall Holding GmbH. Since 2011, Georg has also been an active member of the Association of German and Russian Economists where he has held the role of General Director for four years. He is also member of a political party in Germany, and is a passionate runner in his spare time.

Through his work in the public affairs department at PBN Hill+Knowlton Strategies, Georg helps to develop public affairs strategies for international clients from different industries that are active on the Russian market. These include stakeholder analyses, issue tracking, composing press releases and other documents, as well as the conceptualization of events and scientific studies.

Georg earned a Master of Arts in East European Studies at Free University in Berlin and a Bachelor of Arts in European Studies at Chemnitz University of Technology. Prior to working at Wintershall full-time, Georg was a student assistant there while studying. He was also an assistant to the Working Committee on Public Affairs at the German Public Relations Society in Berlin and worked as an intern at Dusseldorf Moscow Trade Fair (Messe Duesseldorf Moskau GmbH), Deutsche Post DHL, and the Dresden Chamber of Commerce & Trade.

Alfa Fellowship Programs 16th Class
Georg at the residence of the British ambassador to Russia in Moscow.

About the Alfa Fellowship Program

Since 2004, the Alfa Fellowship Program has provided over 170 emerging leaders from the U.S., U.K., and Germany with the opportunity to gain professional experience in business, media, law, policy, and related areas through an 11-month, fully-funded fellowship in Moscow.

The Alfa Fellowship Program is funded by Alfa-Bank, and is administered in the U.S., U.K., and Germany by Cultural Vistas and in Moscow by the Fund for International Fellowships and Cultural Dialogue.

The annual application deadline is November 15.


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Program Highlights

  • High-level professional experience in Russia in private companies, law firms, media outlets, think tanks, and foundations
  • Three trips within Russia and one trip to a neighboring country
  • Moscow seminars series and lectures at the Higher School of Economics—in addition to first-hand professional experience in Moscow, fellows explore regions outside the capital and gain an in-depth look at contemporary Russia through trips, meetings, and lectures
  • Program benefits include a $2500 monthly stipend, housing, all program-related travel costs including round-trip travel to Russia, and insurance coverage
  • Private Russian language tutoring prior to departure for Russia and group language classes upon arrival in Moscow according to each fellow’s level of proficiency
  • Inclusion in the Alfa Fellowship Alumni Association and Cultural Vistas Alumni Network upon successful completion of program


  • U.S., U.K., or German citizenship
  • 25-35 years old at time of application
  • Graduate degree in business, economics, journalism, law, public policy, international relations, or a related field
  • At least 2 years cumulative professional experience with graduate degree; approximately 5 – 6 years without
  • Russian language skills preferred, but not required. If an applicant does not speak Russian, proficiency in another foreign language is required
  • Demonstrated professional interest in Russia or the region
  • Evidence of leadership potential

About Cultural Vistas

Founded in 1963, Cultural Vistas is a nonprofit exchange organization promoting global understanding and collaboration among individuals and institutions. We develop international professional experiences that create more informed, skilled, and engaged citizens. Our programs empower people to drive positive change in themselves, their organizations, and society.

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