New York Program Director Lourena Gboeah Featured on USA for UNHCR

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Upwardly Global’s New York Program Director, Lourena Gboeah, was recently interviewed and featured on USA for UNHCR’s website.

A resettled refugee from Liberia, Lourena and her family found refuge in the U.S. when she was 4 years old. She remembers struggling with culture shock and the lack of cultural competency toward refugees when she first arrived. Lourena now uses this firsthand experience to guide and support immigrants, refugees, and asylees in restarting their lives and careers in the U.S., as well as to help dismantle barriers to workforce inclusion.

“I feel that as we climb, we should be lifting as well. Lift as you climb,” Lourena shared with UNHCR. “It’s a phrase I learned when I worked at Year Up. We used to always remind the young adults to lift as they climbed. Meaning as they grow in their careers, they should also be thinking about others behind them.

“I consider myself a connector of people, places and things. I bring people along in a way that’s going to be beneficial to them. And what that means is if, hypothetically, I meet someone and they tell me that they are struggling with something, my next step is looking within my network and finding who I can connect this person with to help. So I’m always connecting dots. That’s inclusion within itself.”

Alongside her responsibilities at Upwardly Global, Lourena also serves as Chair of the Refugee Congress Board of Directors and on the board of Refugee Council USA.

When asked about how welcoming refugees has changed in her lifetime, she says, “From an integration standpoint, there are still barriers for refugees. But the good noise that advocates from organizations such as Refugee Congress continue to raise is really helping to increase the visibility of refugee issues, and their strength amidst chaos.

“We’ve come a very long way, and I always say we’re not where we want to be, but we have made a lot of progress.”

Read Lourena’s full interview, “‘Lift as we climb’: one refugee advocate’s motto for creating employment opportunities for newly arrived refugees,” here.

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