2010 E Pluribus Unum WINNER

Upwardly Global - San Francisco, New York, Chicago

We work with employers, including those in the Fortune 100, to promote immigrant-inclusive hiring practices. - Nicole Cicerani, Executive Director, Upwardly Global.

Upwardly Global is a San Francisco-based nonprofit organization that provides job readiness training, career counseling, placement services, and mentoring to skilled immigrants and refugees. Too often, these immigrants and refugees find that the education and training they bring to the United States goes to waste because of confusion on the part of employers and others regarding their education and work qualifications, and because of arcane and expensive relicensing processes.

In its nine years in operation, Upwardly Global's offices in San Francisco, New York, and Chicago have trained more than 2,000 jobseekers, and in the last three years have placed 450 in full-time, white-collar jobs with an average starting salary of more than $40,000.

Upwardly Global works with immigrants from more than 100 developing countries, helping, for example, doctors and engineers who have fled Iraq to find jobs in their professional fields and navigate the arduous processes that face them as they seek to become licensed in the United States. The agency's extraordinary success owes in large part to its network of 800 volunteers, who mentor and do peer-to-peer counseling with Upwardly Global participants.

Beginning with Illinois, Upwardly Global is also working to map licensing requirements and the process for accepting foreign educational and professional credentials for up to 10 professions, as well as identifying alternative career paths for immigrants with substantial training in a particular field. The organization is doing similar work with California and New York.

Exceptional Immigrant
Integration Initiative

The challenges faced by skilled immigrants in the United States are daunting. Upwardly Global is working to break down these barriers, resulting in career opportunities for immigrants and access to a diverse and talented potential workforce for American employers.

Upwardly Global helps immigrants achieve their greatest potential in the United States, using an entrepreneurial approach to address the unemployment and underemployment of college-educated refugees and legal immigrants. The nonprofit provides highly individualized services, giving these valuable potential employees the skills and tools they need to successfully navigate the US job market.

By leveraging a strong employer network, Upwardly Global works with businesses to raise awareness of the existing talent pool of immigrants and refugees. Through its volunteer program, jobseekers are able to interact and build relationships with their professional peers from around the world.

For more about Upwardly Global, visit: http://www.upwardlyglobal.org

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Watch Nikki Cicerani accept the award

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Upwardly Global Executive Director Nikki Cicerani discusses her organization's work with skilled immigrants and refugees in the US workplace.

About Nicole "Nikki" Cicerani,
Executive Director (National)

Nikki Cicerani joined Upwardly Global in January 2007 as Managing Director of the New York office and was promoted to Executive Director in April 2009, succeeding founder Jane Leu. Under her leadership, Upwardly Global has more than doubled in size; today the organization has offices in San Francisco, Chicago, and New York and serves over 600 immigrant professionals annually, equipping them with the skills and resources they need to return to their career fields, and helping US employers to tap into this talent pool.

Ms. Cicerani comes to Upwardly Global with over 13 years of professional experience in both the nonprofit and corporate sectors. Prior to joining Upward Global, she worked in Morgan Stanley's Private Wealth Management group cultivating high net worth clients, enhancing a skill set she now actively employs in fundraising for Upwardly Global. She also developed and implemented a workforce training curriculum and a mentoring program for women entrepreneurs at Women's Venture Fund. In addition, as a Supervising Associate with The Center for the New Workforce, a group inside Ernst and Young's Office of the Chairman, she worked on creating programs and measurement tools for increasing the retention and advancement of the firm's talented women professionals. By building partnerships with the firm's leadership to implement these programs, the number of women at the partnership level increased from 3 percent to 11 percent in five years.

Ms. Cicerani is a 2004 graduate of Columbia Business School, where she was President of Columbia Women in Business. She holds a bachelor's degree in policy analysis from Cornell University.