• findSisterhood

Elizabeth Black

Updated: Mar 11, 2019

Co-Founder and Academics of Bee Bilingual


Tell us about your career and how it all started?

The idea for Bee Bilingual came about during the years I worked as an elementary Spanish teacher in Washington, DC. Quite often, I found myself teaching students who were eager to learn, but were not able to attain even a basic level of proficiency due to the limited time and resources allotted for language instruction. I began to wonder if there was an affordable way to increase K-5 student access to high quality language instruction. After some research, I realized that while there were some options for older students and adults, there were not many available for younger language learners. As I discussed this problem with my brother, Phil, we decided we wanted to do something about it. Phil came on board as a co-founder and, with my expertise in curriculum development and his knowledge of business, Bee Bilingual was formed. Our online world language program now serves 100+ students in Washington, DC, and New York City public schools. We plan to expand to other areas of the U.S. for the 2019-2020 school year and begin to offer a blended learning option that will make our program even more cost-effective! As a social enterprise, we strive to make high-quality world language programming available to all students, especially in underserved urban and rural communities.

What does sisterhood mean to you?

To me, sisterhood means creating opportunities to lift other women up and finding chances for professional collaboration with other women-led businesses. It also means sharing what you know with those younger than you – mentoring our interns and new virtual teachers is something that’s especially meaningful to me.

What's your personal mantra?

Do well by doing good.

What is your superpower?

The ability to ask for help. It’s something I once viewed as a weakness but have come to recognize as a strength as I’ve gotten older – we don’t need to always go it alone.

Tell us about women that inspired you and your female role models:

Michelle Bachelet, two-time President of Chile, and Michelle Obama, former U.S. First Lady, inspire me for their unwavering support of and commitment to girls’ education. Also (as cliché as this may be) my mom is one of my biggest role models. She took a leap of faith in her 50s and founded a successful business with two of her close friends. Maybe not a huge surprise then that two of her kids became entrepreneurs themselves!

What would be your advice for women who are building careers in your industry?

Know your worth. While the U.S. education industry contains a high percentage of women (especially in teaching roles/our classrooms), they aren’t always fairly compensated for the work they do. Recognizing that not everyone has the ability to speak out due to potential loss of wages/their job, those that do shouldn’t be afraid to advocate for themselves – especially for fair pay.

One piece of advice for your 18 year old self?

It’s okay to spend your time/money exploring the world during and after college. Recognize the privilege you have to do this but enjoy these experiences – some of the most important lessons you learn will come from them!

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