Olessia Smotrova-Taylor graduated from the University of Colorado at Boulder (CU) in 1996, and currently heads her own government proposal consulting firm in the Washington, D.C. area, helping companies win millions of dollars in new business. She grew up in Uzbekistan, and came to CU as the first student from her country who was not selected through a government-run exchange program. At CU, she was one of the Conference on World Affairs’ student volunteers, and interned at the Financial Times of London as a result of contacts made at CWA.
With a CU degree and seven languages under her belt, Smotrova-Taylor started her career in D.C. working for an international travel assistance company and a German pharmaceutical firm. She continued at Lockheed Martin as an office manager, but within a few months became a de-facto deputy program manager of a $40 million U.S. government funded program, overseeing Russian, American, Norwegian, British, and French subcontractors who designed and built three radioactive waste processing and storage facilities. Her career continued with Raytheon, where she captured business on a $450 million-a-year contract in support of Cooperative Threat Reduction, a U.S. government program focused on non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD).
Smotrova-Taylor won contracts for securing borders against terrorists smuggling WMD, for securing pathogens in former bioweapon labs from theft and sabotage, and for building a power plant to replace a nuclear reactor. One of her most notable accomplishments is developing an approach to securing Russia’s nuclear warhead storage sites against terrorists, which required tackling international political, engineering, and security challenges.