Since her childhood in Illinois, Catherine Elwell has been drawn to the international experience and foreign language study. She received a B.A. in French from Mary Washington College (now, the University of Mary Washington), in Fredericksburg, VA, in 1973. She studied on the Central College Abroad Paris program during the 1971-72 school year. Immediately following graduation she was hired by the International Monetary Fund in Washington, D.C., where she joined the African Department (AFR).
Catherine put all parts of her training and education from Mary Washington College and Central College’s program to use during the course of her 35 ½-year career with the IMF. During that time she was fully engaged in the IMF’s technical work with French- and English-speaking African member countries, both at headquarters and traveling on mission. Her mission travel included trips to Sierra Leone, Burkina Faso, Rwanda, Togo, Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast), Cameroon, Chad, Niger, Gabon, Zaïre (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo—DRC), the Republic of the Congo, Mauritania, Senegal, Mali, Morocco, and Tunisia. She also participated in IMF-World Bank Annual Meetings in the Philippines in September 1976. Her career in the IMF also included facilitating training courses for new assistants and maintaining the AFR Handbook of operational and administrative procedures. Over the course of her career, she maintained her French language skills through courses at Georgetown University, and added courses in Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, and Arabic at the IMF-World Bank training center, Georgetown and George Washington Universities.
In addition to her career, for the past 34 years Catherine has studied classical ballet, including pointe work, jazz, and hip-hop dancing, and continues to perform and compete. She also takes in many performances and exhibits of the lively and fine arts in Washington. Her other interests include sewing, metaphysics, and alternative health. Following a year of intensive study in energy medicine, in December 2010 she became certified as a practitioner of energetic healing. She enjoys time with her large family, including two nephews and three nieces living on both coasts of the U.S.