In 2014, leaders across the nation—from Washington, D.C., to Atlanta, Detroit, St. Louis, and Boise, Idaho—created new policies and initiatives aimed at welcoming skilled immigrants and refugees and integrating this talent pool into the economic and social fabric of their communities. During this year, Upwardly Global also took significant strides toward becoming a key player in discussions around skilled immigrants and employment happening at every level of government.
This is truly an exciting time in the field. In response to the demand for skilled immigrant talent in the workforce, Upwardly Global opened two new satellite offices this year in Detroit and Silver Spring, Maryland. We are advising a collaborative in Boise on employer engagement for skilled immigrant integration, and assisting our partner organization, World Education Services, with a Knight Foundation-funded study to track the experiences of underutilized, skilled workers who were educated outside the U.S. In May, I was honored to travel to the White House by invitation to participate in a high-level discussion about how to leverage immigrant talent on a national level.
UpGlo has consistently sounded the call for employers and policymakers to “think globally and hire locally.” There is now so much activity at the federal, state, and city level focused on foreign-trained professionals—both in recognizing their value and in implementing policies and programming that capitalize on this talent pool. As this important work moves forward, we will continue to serve as an expert voice and an advocate for our jobseekers and alumni who are making incredible contributions to their workplaces and communities—some of which you will learn about in this report.
Our growth wouldn’t be possible without the collaboration of our partners in the field. Some of you may already know UpGlo’s origin story: that our founder, Jane Leu, started the organization at her kitchen table after touring a poultry plant where she met, among its employees, a former engineer from Iraq and a surgeon from Bosnia. Fifteen years ago there were almost no resources available for skilled immigrants and refugees whose talents and professional experience were being overlooked. Now we are part of a much larger community that cares deeply about this population and is sitting down around a table together saying, “how do we get this done?” I’m inspired by our partners, including Global Detroit, CAMBA, Goodwill Industries International, Partnership for a New American Economy, and the International Rescue Committee. We are no longer alone in this work, and that is cause for celebration.
We have also recently completed our third strategic plan, which lays out a thoughtful framework for how we will expand to meet national need while strengthening regional services and partnerships that have created thousands of successful outcomes for jobseekers and employers in our existing locations. In 2015, we will be hiring for three key positions to bring our program to scale: a Chief Operating Officer, a Manager of National Alumni Programs, and a National VP of Employer Partnerships.
As we reflect on what we accomplished in 2014, there is so much to look forward to in the coming year. I am extremely grateful to everyone who touches our program, and for the passion and unwavering commitment of our supporters, funders, partners, and staff as we continue to work together to create a stronger, more inclusive society.
Nikki Cicerani, President & CEO