Welcome to Beautiful Journey, a powerful and uplifting podcast series presented by FirstGen, a Michelson Philanthropies initiative dedicated to empowering immigrant women through storytelling and programming that facilitates their pathways to success.


As one of FirstGen’s flagship programs, Beautiful Journey is hosted by Ayla Michelson and combines two of her deepest passions—uplifting immigrant women and journalism. Beautiful Journey podcast features a mix of interviews that focus on lessons from courageous and inspiring women building their lives in a new country.

Through the art of storytelling, each month we will present the many different adventures, difficulties, successes, and lessons that these women have encountered throughout their beautiful journey. We will also discuss the phenomenon that despite the isolation and need to reach out for help, female immigrants tend to lean towards their national groups to feel secure and welcome, and this is an attempt to create a safe community. Each story will be as unique as the women being interviewed in order to present a raw and authentic experience for the listener.


Ksenia Turkova, Linguist & Journalist for Voice of America


Journalist Ksenia Turkova’s Journey from Kyiv

In its season premiere, host Alya Michelson welcomes Ksenia Turkova, a Voice of America journalist with over 20 years of experience in TV and radio. Join them as they journey back to their early days in Moscow, where they both served as journalists for different media outlets during a time of profound change and growth.

Get an insider’s view of Ksenia’s impactful radio work in Kyiv just before the Revolution of Dignity, a series of protests in Ukraine that unfolded from late 2013 to early 2014. Journey with Ksenia as she leaves Kyiv to further her journalistic career with Voice of America in the United States.

“We often hear about the challenges immigrant women face. But at Beautiful Journey, we also focus on the hope, the triumphs, and the inspiring moments that define their new life in America.”

Alya Michelson

Co-Chair, Michelson Philanthropies



With Lola Adeyemo

Lola Adeyemo was resolved to leave her home and close-knit family in Nigeria to earn a biology degree in the United States. Still, the lessons she learned in her beautiful journey were not the most obvious ones. From uncomfortable interactions in the grocery store to finding herself as one of the very few black women in her workplace (let alone a black immigrant woman), Lola tells Alya Michelson the story of how she found her voice and how she gained confidence in the perspective only she can offer to her colleagues and her field. Today, Lola is the founder of a business that is dedicated to making workplaces more welcoming to employees from all walks of life


Lola Adeyemo, Founder & CEO of EQImindset

Alya Michelson, Co-Chair of Michelson Philanthropies


Born in Russia, Alya studied music and dance as a child and never lost her passion for the arts. As a young woman, she pursued a career in journalism, earning a degree from Moscow State University, and a master’s in economics from Moscow State Institute of International Relations.

Alya brings her classical training, life experiences, and talent to all her creative pursuits, including her newest venture: FirstGen, a storytelling platform that celebrates global citizenship by highlighting how the immigrant experience strengthens the American story. Harkening back to Alya’s journalistic roots, FirstGen celebrates the stories of America’s 23 million immigrant women—famous and unknown, artists and entrepreneurs, innovators and trailblazers.

While every immigrant woman’s story is different, they frequently share common experiences of arrival, integration, and renewal.