Thursday, April 5, 2012

Black Paris Profiles™: Ellen Kountz

Ellen Kountz is one of the few African Americans in Paris whose professional life centered on finance and banking. She earned an undergraduate degree from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and an Executive MBA at ESSEC (Ecole Supérieure des Sciences Economiques et Sociales) in Paris (La Défense). She is also a vocal advocate of political engagement in the U.S. and an active member of the Minority Caucus of Democrats Abroad France. I introduced you to her a few weeks ago as the person who organized the first Black History Month event at the American Church in Paris. I am pleased to feature her in this month’s Black Paris Profile™.


You’ve lived in Paris for over 20 years. What sparked your interest in living here?
I’ve had a lifelong curiosity about living overseas, which was sparked from the numerous international trips that my family was fortunate to take at the height of my father’s career in the 1970’s. This interest solidified when I went to summer camp in Crans Montana, Switzerland from the ages of 11 to 14. I was exposed to cosmopolitan polyglot teenagers from around the world and was acutely aware that being an American meant having a linguistic disadvantage. Somewhere in the back of my mind I decided to rectify this and go beyond what high school French classes could offer.

Ellen at the Pont Mirabeau
Photo credit: Franz Kennedy

Tell us how you came to settle here.
Ironically, I arrived in France after having avoided French classes for years. When I attended the Wharton School undergraduate program in 1988, there was no language requirement. I had put that interest on the back burner to focus on my best subjects – economics, statistics, and business. As a junior, I was informed that requirements had changed and that I needed a liberal arts credit to graduate. I freaked out!


Black Paris Profiles is now available on Kindle.  Only excerpts are available on this blog.
To get your copy of Black Paris Profiles, click HERE.


Entrée to Black Paris!™ is a Discover Paris! blog.

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