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A Resource for Skilled Immigrants. An Opportunity for America.

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Success Stories

Name: Alizata

Country: Cote d’Ivoire

Profession: Case Manager

Struggling to meet the needs of her family members, Alizata came to Upwardly Global committed to make a better living for herself and her family and to find work that utilized her professional skills. Her focus and determination paid off. She is working as an advocate for the rights of immigrants.

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Upwardly Global's Impact

"I have been a volunteer with Upwardly Global since 2005. The experience of helping skilled immigrants achieve their professional dreams has enriched me in more ways than I could convey. Sharing their successes and setbacks during their job search journey taught me about resilience, drive and the passion they have to fulfill their potential and reach their goals."

Name: Caroline Cornely

Country: USA

Profession: Business Finance Manager

Company: Global TAC & Operations

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About Us

Today there are more than 1.8 million immigrants in the U.S. who are college-educated but are unemployed or significantly underemployed. In their home countries they were engineers, doctors, scientists, accountants, and nonprofit professionals. In the U.S. they become cashiers, nannies, and cab drivers, if employed at all.

To solve this problem Upwardly Global creates employer partnerships that benefit from access to this talent pool. We also provide customized training and support for these new Americans to give them an equal opportunity to find and secure skill appropriate opportunities and achieve their full economic potential in the U.S. The outcome is global talent for employers, culturally competent service providers for diverse communities, and family sustaining incomes for those who were previously unemployed or underemployed.

Our Mission

To eliminate employment barriers for skilled immigrants and refugees and integrate this population into the professional U.S. workforce.

Our Vision

A United States where skilled immigrants are seamlessly integrated into the professional workforce and the fabric of American life, and are recognized for the value they add to both.

Our Story

As an Assistant Director in the refugee resettlement field, Jane Leu toured a New York poultry production plant that was considered a model employer for refugees. The owner introduced Jane to two of his best employees: a former engineer from Iraq and a surgeon from Bosnia. Disheartened by this waste of human potential, Jane launched Upwardly Global in 1999 from her kitchen table and began equipping skilled immigrants and refugees with the tools they needed to rebuild their professional careers and contribute their talents to U.S. employers. This simple idea has grown into the national organization that we know as Upwardly Global, or, to our community of committed supporters, as “UpGlo.” Today we continue to grow and deliver on the promise of America for skilled immigrants and help U.S. employers benefit from access to this talent pool.


2000: Founded by Jane Leu in San Francisco
2002: Received initial funding from Three Guineas Fund, then Draper Richards Foundation
2006: Opened New York City office to serve New York metro area
2009: Opened Chicago in partnership with the State of Illinois Office of New Americans
2009: Nikki Cicerani became President & CEO and Jane Leu transitioned to the Board of                       Directors
2010: Recognized by Migration Policy Institute with E Pluribus Unum Award
2011: Invited to participate in Clinton Global Initiative meeting on U.S. Economic Recovery
2013: Released Economic Impact Report
2013: Launched Online Employment Training Program
2014: Opened Silver Spring, Maryland office in partnership with the International Rescue Committee

We continue to pursue Jane’s vision of a U.S. where country of origin is not a barrier to professional success and where employers understand the global, skilled talent these skilled immigrants bring to the workforce.

Our Core Values

Accountability. We are performance-driven and use data to measure our results and impact. We run our organization with integrity, transparency, efficiency and disciplined financial management.  We accept responsibility for our actions and we meet our commitments.

Community. We have a shared purpose that is bigger than ourselves and brings us together. We’re in it together. We support one another and find motivation from those around us. We learn from our mistakes and take joy in celebrating our shared successes.

Innovation. We think creatively about how to solve problems and take risks to do it. In pursuit of lasting change, we meet each challenge with resourceful, smart thinking.

Leadership. We believe that leadership means making those around us better and more productive. We are committed to being leaders and showing others how they, too, can lead.

Professionalism. We are proud of what we do and show it in the quality of our work and actions. We hold ourselves to the highest standards.  We employ tested business practices and don’t let limited resources get in the way of excellence.  We are reliable and consistent.

Respect. We see our job seekers as the professionals they are and treat them as such. We acknowledge and honor the risks they have taken to build their life in a new country. When we ask for money, time or attention we do so thoughtfully and use it wisely.  We truly value diverse perspectives – even when they challenge our own.

Tenacity. We know nothing worth doing is easy.  We believe every “no” is the beginning of a conversation, not the end of one.  We will continue to ask for what is needed on behalf of our job seekers.  And we will not give up.

Upwardly Global © 2011