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Kelly Raftery, Custom Russian's founder, has spent all of her adult life studying and speaking the Russian language. She lived and traveled the former Soviet Union from St. Petersburg to Central Asia. She is fluent in Russian, has a working knowledge of German and a smattering of Kyrgyz.

Kelly's educational background includes a B.A. from University of Illinois at Chicago in Russian Literature and Language, a M.A. from University of Michigan in Russian Area Studies and coursework at Indiana University and Leningrad State University.

Kelly began her career working and living in the former Soviet Union. In her time abroad, she worked with investors, major multinationals, and entrepreneurs in a number of countries.

After spending years as a business development consultant in the former Soviet Union, Kelly transitioned stateside and worked for the U.S. government. Kelly acted as point person for the SBA's Gore-Chernomyrdin Commission Small Business Working Group, accompanying Administrator Aida Alvarez to high-level negotiations. She won an "Under-Secretary's Award for Innovation" by leading a multinational team of professionals in a website design project for the Department of Commerce.


More recently, her focus has shifted to translation, teaching and writing. As an adjunct professor at UNLV, she doubled the size of the Russian program and developed a course on Post-Soviet Pop Culture. Kelly worked on translations for the Denver Museum of Nature and Science in support of research on Vasily Konovalenko and interpreted for the International Rescue Committee. Kelly volunteers for Heritage Camps for Adoptive Families, sharing her knowledge of adoptees' home countries.

Kelly focuses on customized services for her clients, whether they are CEOs, government agencies, small business owners or college students. One size does not fit all and strong relationships based on client needs are the backbone of the business.

Please see the Testimonials page, where clients and colleagues share their views.

Contact Kelly at for more information.

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