By: Sydney Tyler
ENI had the pleasure of interviewing Elissa Russell (M.Ed. ‘20), the founder of READI Consulting. READI upskills under educated and underemployed low-literate workers by providing contextualized training to improve their reading, numeracy, digital or writing abilities.
After earning a bachelor’s degree from Spelman College, Russell began her career overseas as an English teacher for youth and adults in Taiwan. During her 10 years abroad, she began to redefine ESL (English for Speakers of other Languages) in terms of language literacy.
When she returned to the U.S., Russell continued to work with international students and refining their language literacy skills, eventually moving into the non-profit sector.
After spending two years working with adults seeking to improve a variety of literacy issues, Russell enrolled in Georgia State’s Master’s of Education program with a focus on literacy and research in the area of families communities and culture. From here she decided to pursue a career in the social entrepreneurship field, with the goal of changing how adult education is understood, addressed and funded.
With this mission in mind, READI Consulting was launched in 2019 to address multigenerational literacy through the lens of workforce readiness. This meant providing tailored services to various educational institutions to enable them to better engage with their under-educated, underemployed workers.
Russell has a drive for advocacy and is committed to upskilling and reskilling uneducated and underemployed adults, so that they may enable economic self-sufficiency. READI creates and delivers industry specific trainings, which advance the reading, writing, digital, technical or professional skills of the employee, therefore positioning him/her for advancement at work.
Currently, READI is in the process of introducing a READI App that will serve as a training tool for clients, prerecorded classes, interested clients. Russell is also in the process of consulting with non-profits and other small businesses to create workforce readiness trainings, in order to better serve the communities who may find they have a skills gap or out of work as the result of Covid-19.
This year, Russell was selected for the 2020 The Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U), where she will spend the next year collaborating and learning from a network of alumni and leaders from business, government, academia, and civil society. Watch submission video.
She also notes her involvement with the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Institute as a major source of READI Consulting’s exponential growth. Russell was both a Graduate Research Assistant under Dr. Isabelle Monlouis, and a student in the Startup Incubation and Mentoring course taught by Entrepreneur in Residence, Ken Mathis. ENI has given her the space to network with student talent across varied disciplines, as well as access to workshops, campus tools, and academic leaders.
Russell offers some words of advice to other students: “Be the change that you want to see – whether that is a new product, service, or better opportunities for an underserved community. You must do something about it first. You only get the buy-in from others when they can see your commitment and passion for your product or idea or problem.” #stayREADI
To learn more about Elissa Russell and READI Consulting, visit consultreadi.com or connect through Instagram (@consultreadi) and LinkedIn.