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Success Stories
Persistence Pays Off for PR Professional from Brazil

Name: Gabriela

Country: Brazil

Profession: Media Relations Specialist

A PR professional from Brazil, Gabriela, worked as a make-up counter sales associate in the U.S. But Gaby never gave up hope. After a series of interviews and writing tests, Gaby finally landed a full-time position as a Media Relations Specialist.

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Upwardly Global's Impact

"Upwardly Global taught me how to improve my skills as a job seeker and helped me to see my weaknesses as strengths. Their guidance, help, and motivation are priceless."

Name: Celinda Mendoza

Country: Colombia

Profession: Systems Integration Consultant

Company: Accenture

Home About Us Leadership Council

Leadership Council

The Leadership Council is a group of dedicated volunteers who support Upwardly Global’s work by fundraising, building awareness, recruiting volunteers and strengthening employer partnerships. The Council provides leadership opportunities for individuals interested in becoming more involved with Upwardly Global. To learn more, please contact the following offices:

San Francisco: Anne Kirwan at
New York: the New York Leadership Council at
Chicago: Karrie Miner at


Chana Anderson, Chair

Chana Anderson is the VP for Human Resources (HR) at Marin Community Foundation - one of the largest community foundations in the U.S. - which focuses on encouraging and applying philanthropic contributions to help improve the human condition. Previously, she held senior HR leader roles in the healthcare and nonprofit sectors, where she provided strategic direction and oversight for the HR function.

She holds a B.A. in Organizational Studies, and an M.A. in Leadership from St. Mary’s College.  Chana is native San Franciscan whose travels include extended stays in countries and towns off the beaten path. Her passions for learning about cultures and humanity and creating economic opportunities for others led her to volunteering at Upwardly Global’s mock interviews.  Shortly thereafter, she joined the San Francisco Leadership Council.

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Jeff Waldron, co-chair

Jeff is Managing Director at Waldron, a leading national consulting firm that provides a unique combination of executive search and organizational development services for social and private sector organizations. Based in San Francisco, Jeff helps to shape the firm’s strategy nationwide and also leads many of its largest and most prominent search engagements.

In 2009, Jeff took a leave of absence to work with the International Development Law Organization (IDLO), based in Rome, Italy. IDLO is an inter-governmental organization that works with its member nations and partners to strengthen institutions that promote peace, justice, and sustainable development around the world. Jeff served as IDLO’s Director of Human Resources and later as the Interim Director-General where he worked closely with governments and international agencies across the globe to increase IDLO’s strategic capacity to implement its programs. Jeff returned to Waldron in 2014.

A San Francisco native, Jeff is personally engaged in local and global philanthropic endeavors.   He has traveled extensively to many corners of the world and maintains his fluency in Italian. He began volunteering with Upwardly Global in 2015 and joined the Leadership Council in January 2016.

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Maggie Dimitrova

Maggie Dimitrova is part of an innovative and customer-focused team at Pacific Gas & Electric Co., one of the largest combined gas and electric utility in the U.S. As a Supervisor of Product Management, Maggie is responsible for managing incentive programs and customer experience initiatives for customers interested in adopting solar and other renewable technologies.

Maggie moved to the U.S. in 2001 after graduating with an M.A. in Political Science from Sofia University in her home country of Bulgaria. She is passionate about giving back to the community and supports a number of local and international nonprofit organizations. She has worked with Upwardly Global as a volunteer and mentor for many years and has continually increased her commitment to the mission and goals of the organization.  As an immigrant herself, Maggie prides herself on helping others pursue their dreams.

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Anya Oleinikova

Anya focuses on bringing the world together through live experiences, and growing Eventbrite's presence in international markets. Prior to joining Eventbrite, she was at Google for 11 years, driving search and display commercialization and working on international expansion.

Anya holds a B.A. in Economics from U.C. Berkeley. In 1997, Anya moved to the Bay Area from Saint-Petersburg, Russia. This experience was the impetus for Anya initially volunteering with Upwardly Global. To further her support of the goals and the mission of the organization, she joined the San Francisco Leadership Council.

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Fallon O'Dowd
Fallon has lived in seven countries including: Jordan, Oman, Tunisia, Syria, Israel, and Egypt. Her time in the Middle East laid the foundation for her interest in migration and refugee affairs, and eventually resulted in her becoming a paralegal for an immigration law firm in the Bay Area. Fallon now works on Staff Operations at Dropbox in San Francisco, and her continued passion for immigration led her to Upwardly Global.

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Terri Lynn Cardona

Terri Lynn Cardona is SVP of Human Resources at Prometheus in San Mateo.  She is responsible for keeping the ship afloat. She runs all areas of human resources including recruitment, staffing, health care and benefits administration, payroll administration and training for Prometheus’ more than 500 employees.

Terri has a Master’s of Science in Instructional and Performance Technology from, home of the Smurf Turf, Boise State University and a Bachelor of Arts in Public Relations from San Jose State University. She is on the faculty for UC Berkeley's extension program, where she is developing tomorrows human resource leaders through the certificate program.

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Mike Diamond, New York

Mike Diamond is an Analytical Lead in Google’s DoubleClick division in New York. He works with larger advertisers to develop forward thinking, data-driven insights and recommendations that align with their marketing objectives. He partners across internal sales and service teams to develop and test tools, templates and frameworks to streamline and scale client analyses and collaborates with these teams to educate and train clients and agencies on how to best architect and optimize technology-driven advertising campaigns.

He moved to New York after graduating from the University of Michigan, where he received a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature.  He started his career at Microsoft, before moving to Google in 2010. Shortly after coming to NYC, Mike started working with with Upwardly Global as a volunteer and mentor through his previous job at Microsoft, where he helped coordinate Upwardly Global mock interviews, resume workshops, cover letter reviews and networking practice events. He currently serves as President of the New York Leadership Council for Upwardly Global. Mike loves adventure travel, food, art and is an avid University of Michigan sports fan.

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Andrew Greier, President, New York

Andrew Greier is a Vice President of Professional Development at Point72 Asset Management. Prior to this role he was an investment analyst specializing in Industrial equities. Before joining Point72, Andrew was an investment banking analyst in Barclays Capital’s Global Chemicals Group.

Andrew received his B.S. in Finance and Accounting, cum laude, from the Stern School of Business at New York University. In his senior year, Andrew was the President of the Mu Chapter of Beta Alpha Psi, an international honors organization for accounting and finance students. Andrew was born and raised in New York City. He began volunteering with Upwardly Global in 2014.

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Lucy Walton, New York

Lucy is a Senior Manager in Accenture’s Strategy Consulting practice, specialising in Banking and Capital Markets. For the past 8 years, Lucy’s focus has been driving profitable growth for her Banking clients through Operating Model and Process transformation in London and New York. Prior to joining Accenture, Lucy was Head of Graduate Recruitment for Bloomberg LP in Europe, Middle East and Africa. In her early career, Lucy spent several years in Advertising at the creative agencies KHWS, JWT and The Square in London. Lucy graduated in Economics from University of Leeds. Lucy first volunteered for Upwardly Global via Accenture in 2015 and joined the LC in June of that year. Lucy moved to NYC two years ago and as a native Londoner, is striving to maintain her British accent.

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Daniel Garcia, New York

Daniel is a Director with PwC's Global Advisory team and has more than fourteen years of experience in the Telecommunication, Travel, Pharma, Retail, and Financial Services industries along with Public Sector Agencies. His areas of expertise include corporate strategy, brand management, customer experience/ loyalty, process improvement, and program management.
Daniel was born in Colombia and remains heavily involved in the Latino professional community. He was previously a member of the Chicago UpwardlyGlobal Leadership Council.

Daniel received, with highest distinction, his B.S. in International Business and M.B.A. in Corporate Strategy and General Management.

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Justin Rucker, Vice President, New York

Justin Rucker is business strategy advisor and consultant to the Financial Services industry. He is a member of Accenture’s Financial Services Strategy practice, working primarily with Capital Markets, Banking and Payments clients. Justin works with senior business leaders to help shape their strategies and plans to capture new growth opportunities, such as launching new businesses and products or expanding to serve new customer segments. He also works with these clients to design, plan and execute the transformation programs required to achieve new growth.

Justin attended university at Boston College in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, where he studied Finance and Film. He moved to New York City after graduating, where he began his career with Accenture. Justin was introduced to Upwardly Global through a pro-bono consulting engagement where he helped Upwardly Global evaluate and plan the launch of a new service offering and is excited to serve as a member of the Leadership Council. Justin lives in New York where he enjoys food, running, and travel.

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Max Litvinko, New York

Max Litvinko is a representative within Global Technical Operations at Bloomberg L.P. Before that he worked as a PR Manager for the software development company Sam Solutions as well as a freelancer project manager focusing on mobile and web applications development for multiple clients. Moved to the USA from Belarus where he graduated with BS degree in Mass Communication and minor in Information Science from Belarusian State University. Being an alumni of the Upwardly Global program (Summer 2010) he is thrilled to get involved with the organization in a different role. Being a treasurer of the Leadership Council he still has fresh memories of how it feels to be a job seeker. Max lives in New York city now, likes to run and play tennis, also being student at Columbia University, he is studying Computer Science in addition to work.

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Tammi Ling, New York

Tammi Ling is a Partner in the Financial & Risk / Public Policy and Digital, Technology, Operations & Analytics practices of Oliver Wyman in New York. She has worked across a number of risk management topics including risk framework development, regulatory compliance, cost efficiency, operational process design, model risk management, capital management and planning, and risk appetite, providing custom solutions for leading financial institutions. She moved to New York after graduating from the University of Sydney, Australia, where she received a Bachelor of Commerce majoring in Finance, Accounting and Econometrics and Bachelor of Science with a major in Psychology.

Tammi became involved with Upwardly Global in 2009, volunteering as a mock interviewer and mentor, working one-on-one with job seekers to help prepare them for the job market. She joined the New York Leadership Council for Upwardly Global in 2010, and was elected President and Vice President of the New York Leadership Council in 2011 and 2012, respectively.

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Nancy Vailakis, New York

Nancy Vailakis has 13 years of experience in business development, marketing and investor relations at alternative asset management firms like Cerberus Capital Management and BlueMountain Capital Management.

Ms. Vailakis currently serves as an Alumni Advisory Board Member of the NYU Stern Private Equity Club (SPEC). In addition, she is involved with a number of non-profit organizations including High Water Women and the Columbia Land Conservancy. Nancy began volunteering for Upwardly Global in 2016.

Ms. Vailakis holds an MBA from New York University's Stern School of Business and a BA from Binghamton University.


Katie Deibert

Katie is an attorney with GATX Corporation. Previously she was with Mayer Brown, where she worked in the firm’s finance group in the Chicago, Frankfurt and London offices. She was also a Public Interest Law Initiative (PILI) Fellow, has experience in the non-profit sector and practiced with Kirkland & Ellis.

Having grown up in a community where many refugees resettled, she has long been aware of the challenges immigrant jobseekers face. Given her own experiences working abroad under the “best” of circumstances, she feels strongly about supporting jobseekers in Chicago who do not have it so easy. Katie has been involved with Upwardly Global since 2009. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Iowa with a degree in political science and earned her J.D., magna cum laude, from the University of Minnesota Law School.

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Rachel Story

Rachel is a Management Analyst at the General Services Administration Office of Inspector General (GSAOIG).  Rachel focuses on Contract Auditing and Construction Closeouts.  Prior to joining GSA OIG, Rachel worked as a Community Development Volunteer with The Peace Corps serving in Donetsk, Ukraine from 2013-2014.  While in Ukraine, she focused on providing resources for people with disabilities and taught International Economics at Donetsk National University.  Rachel earned her MBA from Robert Morris University Illinois in 2012.  She started volunteering with Upwardly Global in 2015 and wanted to further her commitment by joining the Leadership Council. In her free time, Rachel enjoys running, traveling, and spending time with her dog Simba.

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Blair Waite

Blair is Senior Director of Global Strategy and Profitability in Baxter Healthcare’s Renal Division.  He has worked at Baxter for the past 6 years, and was previously at Eli Lilly and Company in Indianapolis and Toronto for 19 years.  Blair has focused his career on launching breakthrough products globally in the healthcare space, and commercial leadership of cross-functional and cross-geographic businesses.

Blair was born and raised in Canada, and graduated as a Mechanical Engineer from McGill University in Montreal.  He has three children, the lights of his life, and loves to travel with them all over the world.  In his free time, Blair can often be found on long, lonely runs with his Audible books playing.  Blair’s side passion is genealogy.

Blair is thrilled to be involved with Upwardly Global as an extension of his efforts to bring UpGlo into Baxter, which has become a truly win-win-win partnership.

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Keelie Fallon

Keelie is Director of Human Resources for Academy for Urban School Leadership, a non-profit school management organization founded in 2001 which today manages 32 Chicago Public Schools, serves more than 18,000 students, and has graduated over 750 teachers from the AUSL Chicago Teacher Residency. Keelie has 20 years experience in HR in a variety of industries, including healthcare, marketing, publishing, and non-profit. Keelie has a BA in International Studies from the University of Tampa, and a passion for workforce development and reducing barriers to employment. These two facts make Upwardly Global the perfect organization to which to devote her time and energy.

In her spare time, Keelie enjoys running (slowly), stand-up paddle boarding (badly), and reading (quite well).

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Tim Finney

Tim is a Director of Finance and Operations at Enfusion, a hedge fund software company. He oversees Enfusion’s accounting and HR functions, as well as the company’s international growth strategy. As the primary contact for all global immigration issues, Tim understands the many hurdles highly-skilled immigrants face and he enjoys being a trusted advisor throughout the process. Tim has a B.A. in Economics and International Studies from the University of Michigan. He began volunteering with Upwardly Global in 2016 and is very excited to promote UpGlo’s mission in Chicago as a member of the Leadership Council.\

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Eileen Hwang

Eileen is a Business Consulting Manager in the Business Advisory Services group at Grant Thornton. Her expertise includes Mergers and Acquisitions integration, divestitures, process improvement, organizational assessment, and project management. Prior to joining Grant Thornton, she was part of the Management Consulting group at Accenture. Eileen was born and raised in Korea, and lived in Canada for ten years before she moved to Chicago in 2011. She earned her Bachelor of Commerce degree with a concentration in Finance & Economics from the University of Toronto in Canada. She has been volunteering for Upwardly Global since 2012.

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A.J. John

A.J. is a Consulting Executive within the Operations practice at Accenture. He works specifically with clients to grow their capabilities within Product Development and Innovation, Private Label Growth/Strategy, Operating Model/Design, and Merchandising Operations. His clients have included some of the world's most visible Fortune 500 companies within the Consumer Goods and Retail industries. A second generation Indian American and native Chicagoan, A.J. has also provided pro-bono consulting services to non-profit organizations within the city.

He holds a B.S. in Materials Science and Engineering with a concentration in Biomaterials and a minor in Chemistry from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

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Katia Kreft

Katia is a Senior Strategist at Egg Strategy, a global strategy and innovation consultancy that helps clients find pathways to growth amidst the messiness of modern life. For the past six years, she’s been fortunate enough to help shape, position and strengthen some of the most successful products & brands in the marketplace today. In her role, Katia is engaged in all aspects of project work, from new business development and relationship management, to enagement design, insight mining, and (last but not least) brand, innovation and communication strategy creation.

Katia completed both her undergraduate and post-graduate coursework at Northwestern University, earning a Bachelor’s degree in Communications and Business and a Post-Baccaleurate certificate in Strategic Marketing. If she could develop any talent overnight, she would ask for the ability to become a polyglot, and speak every language she encountered fluently.

As a first generation immigrant from the former USSR, Katia has seen firsthand the barriers highly skilled immigrants face when trying to enter the workforce, and is deeply committed to helping members of this community find their voice, and live their passion.

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Genevieve Koloditch

Anu Lohani

Anu Lohani is a Senior Consultant at Allstate Insurance Company where she is a member of the Information Security team. She works on vendor security risk management issues. Prior to joining Allstate in early 2015, Anu worked at a Chicago trial law firm- Brustin and Lundblad Ltd. for 3.5 years.

Anu completed her Joint B.A. / J.D. from National Law School of India University, Bangalore and her Masters in Law from The George Washington University Law School. She is licensed to practice law in her native Nepal where she also worked for a year after law school.

As an immigrant and an UpGlo alum, Anu is very committed to UpGlo’s mission and is passionate about helping other immigrants re-establish their professional careers in the US. In her free time Anu likes to travel & learn about other cultures and participate in triathlons.

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May Pelz

Ben Pickering

Ben is a consultant within the human capital consulting practice at Deloitte Consulting. He holds experience delivering solutions within M&A, strategic change, technology adoption and talent strategy spheres, spanning across Life Sciences, Technology, Consumer Products and Financial Services industries.

Ben is a graduate of Boston College where he obtained his Bachelor of Arts degree in International Studies and Spanish. After graduating, he spent two years in Spain teaching English at a public secondary school. He was first introduced to Upwardly Global upon attending a resume workshop in 2015, and is excited to serve on the Leadership Council and advance Up Glo's mission and presence in the Chicago community. In his free time, Ben enjoys off-the-beaten-path international travel, playing and watching soccer (namely Arsenal FC), and listening to live jazz.

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Andrea Sugano

Andrea is a Project Manager for CVS Health, where she spearheads process improvement initiatives for the pharmacy benefit management arm of the business. Prior to joining CVS Health, Andrea managed projects in the healthcare and oil and gas industries, both in the US and abroad. A native Houstonian, Andrea is a Certified Project Manager and graduated with honors from the University of Texas at Austin with a dual degree in economics and philosophy.

Andrea brings to the LC her passion for building strong communities and promoting cross-cultural understanding. In addition to serving on the LC, Andrea enjoys supporting UpGlo by conducting informational interviews with job seekers, participating in networking events, and connecting job seekers with individuals in her network.

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