An immigrant from France who is also the granddaughter of Jewish immigrants developed a supportive community that would help immigrant women in New York obtain meaningful employment and pursue higher education. The resulting network has since become a registered non-profit with more than 450 participants and alumni dedicated to empowering immigrant and refugee women.
Nearly 200 immigrants and refugee physicians organized into a network in Washington State. Their collaboration catalyzed legislation that created a new licensing pathway for internationally trained doctors to practice medicine in local communities.
A network of African immigrants was born out of a chance encounter at a retail establishment. A customer, an immigrant from Ghana with a background in urban planning, offered to mentor a cashier, an immigrant from Ghana with an engineering degree. That partnership blossomed into a non-profit that helps African and other internationally trained immigrants in Massachusetts leverage their credentials and experience in the local workforce.
WES Global Talent Bridge has worked with partners, community organizations, and policymakers for more than 10 years to support immigrants and refugees who hold international credentials in securing employment that is commensurate with their education and experience. Its recent initiative, the Global Talent Leadership Network (GTLN), was launched this spring to channel the power and potential of networks to amplify the efforts of immigrant and refugee leaders.
GTLN has three goals: to raise awareness about its growing network in support of immigrant and refugee communities, to foster collaboration among its organizations and other key stakeholders, and to support the development of leaders advancing immigrant and refugee workforce integration
Amplifying Immigrant and Refugee Leadership
GTLN’s network leaders represent immigrant-led organizations that serve immigrants. They span diverse professional sectors, countries of origin, and U.S. geographies. Since its launch, GTLN has connected leaders from the African Bridge Network, Centre Francophone de Philadelphie, Ethiopian Community Mutual Assistance Association, Medicos Unidos, New Women New Yorkers, Orotta School of Medicine and Dentistry Network, RIF Asylum Support, The JobUp, Venezolanos Activos en el Exterior, Venezuelans and Immigrants Aid, and Washington Academy for International Medical Graduates.
“GTLN strives to be an incubator of collaborative ideas and opportunities. Central to the network’s mission are the experiences of immigrant and refugee leaders, many of whom have personally faced systemic barriers in the U.S. and are now committed to sharing their experience and expertise with others to help them succeed,” said Racquel Sevilla, director of program development, planning, and evaluation at WES Global Talent Bridge. “We’re building connections among leaders who have faced similar challenges, recognize shared opportunities, and bring diverse sets of skills to advance each other’s work.”
Research from the Migration Policy Institute (MPI) shows that there are at least two million college-educated immigrants and refugees who are currently unemployed or underemployed in the U.S.; 60 percent of them have international credentials. Structural barriers such as complicated professional licensing laws and challenges gaining recognition for international credentials have stymied their career advancement in the U.S. Yet their full integration into the U.S. workforce would add $40 billion in wages and $10 billion in federal, state, and local tax payments to the economy each year.
A Network to Open Opportunities
GTLN serves as a hub of immigrant- and refugee-led organizations that can collectively support the inclusion of internationally trained workers who are currently unemployed or underemployed. The group will work to open career pathways and effect a more inclusive economy in four core ways:
- Provide direct service to immigrants and refugees. Across industries and geographies, GTLN members can share best practices for creating targeted programs and services, developing referral processes and growing organizational membership, and collaboratively accessing resources and funding .
- Promote systemic change. The network’s leaders, some of whom have successfully established local policies and partnerships that advance career pathways, are positioned to collectively inspire and support policies and practices that promote the economic mobility of immigrants and refugees who hold international credentials.
- Offer expertise to the field. A growing field of immigrant- and refugee-serving organizations, along with workforce development agencies, is committed to supporting the full inclusion of the internationally educated in the U.S. workforce. GTLN is grounded in the perspectives and experiences of immigrants and refugees, and its leaders are committed to sharing ideas that scale the impact of the field.
- Create hiring pipelines for U.S. employers. As the U.S. continues to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and work toward economic recovery, networks like GTLN offer an opportunity for U.S. employers to connect with untapped talent pools, filling growing numbers of job openings with qualified, multicultural, and multilingual candidates who have international experience.
Creating Impact Through Collaboration
“We are so excited to be a part of this network. We have already benefited from the gatherings, shared insights, and resources,” said Arielle Kandel, founder and chief executive officer of New Women New Yorkers. “It’s encouraging to see the potential impact our collaborative work can have, and the ripple effects that these connections will create in our field and across communities and the country.”
GTLN is poised to build a more inclusive, diverse, and resilient workforce that fully recognizes the value of international training, skills, and credentials. Through its connections and collaborations, the network will amplify each member organization’s voice to effect greater change across the field and promote the contributions of immigrant and refugee talent in the U.S. workforce.
Help us grow the network by providing connections to immigrant- and refugee-led organizations, sharing information about your programs and services with our existing network, or engaging leaders in your work through advisory groups or guest speaking opportunities.