Initiative on the Integration of New Immigrants in the Workplace

The first two phases of this project are being funded by The Joyce Foundation.
We’d like to thank them for both their support and their foresight.

Initiative on the Integration of New Immigrants in the Workplace
December 11, 2004
Revised February 4, 2005

Summary

America’s communities and businesses are facing unprecedented challenges as new immigrants enter the labor market. These new arrivals play and will continue to play critical roles in the economic destiny of our country. While there is significant evidence that local educational and training systems, unions, community organizations and businesses are engaged actively in efforts to integrate immigrants in the workplace, few efforts are the result of policies or practices based on shared experiences and research. Clearly, the challenges are as diverse as the immigrants themselves. Many arrive with few skills and little education. The goal here is to close the gap in basic education, technical skills and English proficiency in order that they become productive workers with clear opportunities for growth and advancement. Others come with advanced skills. The question here is how may they extend their skills, achieve new competencies, attain the required licenses and certifications and make connections to jobs for which they are qualified?

The responses to the challenges posed by new immigrants in the labor market are mostly local and engage federal, state and local workforce development systems, employers, state and local educational systems and workforce intermediaries. The breadth of the problems, the diversity of new immigrants, and the unprecedented dispersal of immigrants across the American landscape can easily overwhelm a discussion of national scope. Consequently, we propose an initiative that establishes a foundation of what is known currently about successful workplace integration practices for new immigrants. This initiative will focus on Chicago and another Midwestern metropolitan area as study areas where less formal policies and practices at the business and community level will be illuminated and documented. The overall goal is to establish a body of knowledge that will support a national discussion on the economic integration of new foreign-born workers.

The project will be implemented in two phases over 12 months. The results will be:

Phase 1: A benchmark study of known practices and polices in the United States and a review of such practices and policies in Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom
• Deliverables
o A benchmark roundtable and interviews of experts and researchers on policies and practices in the U.S.
o A review of policies and practices in Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom
o A review of available literature on economic integration of new immigrants
o A report of Phase 1 findings.

Phase 2: A compendium of established and emerging policies and practices in Chicago
• Deliverables
o A forum of practitioners and policymakers in the Chicago CMSA, especially businesses that are engaged already in such integration processes. The forum also will include intermediaries, public agencies, education and training providers and advocacy groups serving immigrants or populations of native-born who are perceived as competing economically with new arrivals
o Six community exchanges
o Proceedings of the forum outlining existing policies and practices in Chicago
o A report analyzing publicly funded training in Illinois over the past five years of businesses and industries employing significant numbers of immigrants
o Recommendations and a proposed roadmap for areas of further study and policy development.

A consortium of business leaders, state government officials, and leaders from organized labor, education and community-based organizations will guide the initiative. A working consortium of ten to fifteen members will be established in early 2005 prior to the launch of the project. There is no pre-established limited on the ultimate size of the consortium.

Members of the consortium will come primarily from Chicago area businesses and institutions. The members from Chicago will be chosen to reflect the diversity of economic activities and immigrant experiences in the metropolitan area. Particular attention will be given to assuring the involvement of opinion leaders with practical experience in employment issues. The consortium also will include members from outside Chicago in order to provide a national perspective and to help guide the discussion on the broader lessons that may be learned from this initiative.

Introduction and Approach

Foreign-born workers arriving in 1990 through 2001 accounted for nearly 6 percent of the entire labor force during calendar 2001 and accounted for nearly 50 percent of the growth in the nation’s civilian labor force over the 1990 to 2001 period. In five Northeastern states, all of the growth in the labor force between 1990 and 2000-2001 came from new arrivals. In five other states, including California, Florida and Illinois, between two-thirds and 87 percent of labor force growth was due to new immigrant workers. While many were well prepared to enter the workforce – 27 percent of adults aged 25 and over possessed a bachelor’s degree or higher as did their native born counterparts – nearly 33 percent had not graduated from high school and more than 21 percent had less than a 9th grade education. In comparison, slightly less than 13 percent of native born adults had not received a high school education and 4 percent had less than a 9th grade education. In Illinois and the Chicago CMSA, 30 and 31 percent respectively of immigrants over age 21 had not completed a high school education, compared to 10.5 and 9.4 percent respective of their native born counterparts.

The recent contribution of immigrants to the growth of the nation’s labor force is unprecedented. Economic expansion over the last few decades has depended heavily on significant migrations of workers. A recent study published by the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas noted “that the pace of recent U.S. economic growth would have been impossible without immigration … [A]mazingly, the flow of foreign-born is so large that immigrants currently account for a larger share of labor force growth than natives.” Even during the recent weak economy, “…the foreign-born share of growth has risen [during the period of slow job growth since 2000], and it reached 51 percent of the total between 1996 and 2002.”

The distribution of immigrants, although concentrated in a few large cities, is becoming increasingly dispersed – especially in selected regions. This sense that the immigrant is becoming a part of the cultural landscape of the U. S. is further substantiated by the following map showing the distribution of immigrants in proportion to the population of the county of residence. It shows that all parts of the U.S. are experiencing changes in the mix of native-born and foreign-born residents.

Although many large cities such as New York, Los Angeles and Chicago and such states as Texas and Florida have long been engaged with the workforce challenges of new immigrants, it appears that the unprecedented levels experienced in recent years have put new strains on the network of workforce development providers and services. This is leading to concerns raised in communities such as Chicago with respect to increased competition for resident workers created by new immigrants. Moreover, communities experiencing an influx of new immigrants for the first time in generations have very few resources in place to meet the challenge.

The proposed initiative on the integration of new immigrants in the workplace will assemble available knowledge and resources and foster new thinking on workplace solutions. In so doing, we predicate our work on two assumptions: 1) that the long term trend is towards increasingly tight labor supplies and that new immigrants are required to meet projected demands; and 2) that the economic security of the United States is tied to the growth of industries of increasing added value, thereby raising the demand for high skilled, literate workers at all levels.

The hourglass shape characterizing the distribution of skills of the new immigrant workforce prompts two questions:

• The question for those at the bottom of the hourglass with few skills and little education: How do we close the gap in basic education, technical skills, and English proficiency needed for the workplace?

This is especially important on three counts: First, our policies are based on the assumption that the workers of tomorrow are predominantly in American schools today. A growing number of workers are not the products of the domestic education system. The “second chance” training and education systems that are in place today that bridge the gaps for people coming out of the American system are increasingly being required to serve the needs of new arrivals having diverse educational and cultural experiences. While countries such as Australia have long experience in documenting the differences in educational systems and are able to crosswalk attainment levels of sending countries to the Australian system, American institutions have been left to work matters out on their own.

Second, the changing shape of the American economy towards heavy concentrations of jobs at the bottom and at the top of economic ladder raises the specter that there will be few opportunities for poor, unskilled immigrants to work their way up that ladder. This is especially important if new immigrants are to earn enough to sustain themselves and their families and participate fully in the American dream.

Finally, considering that qualifications for entry level opportunities are rising for many production and service occupations – occupations attracting significant numbers of immigrants, many key jobs will go wanting for minimally skilled workers to fill them. Much has been written regarding the crisis of native born high school graduates lacking the skills to meet the demands of a high growth, high skill economy. And yet, in order to meet that demand, American businesses also depend in large measure on new immigrants with fewer skills than their native born counterparts. What is being done to address the gap is neither documented nor well understood.

• There are challenges at the top of the hourglass as well. Many immigrants come well educated and highly skilled. Yet, they are unable to find jobs that are commensurate with their skills and knowledge. In some cases it is a question of licensure or certification. In other cases, common practices, conventions and culture serve as barriers. Therefore, the question is: How may new immigrants extend their skills, achieve new competencies, attain the required licenses and certificates, and make connections to jobs for which they are qualified.

Migration is global, and the United States’ place as a destination in the great movements we are now witnessing raises a number of related issues:

• Composition of recent arrivals: The regions and countries of origin and the corresponding educational and technical skills of new immigrants are broadly documented. However, there are often significant variations in the composition of the workforce as the information becomes more granular. These variations are significant to employers, intermediaries, and education and training providers as immigrants from the same village or province congregate and settle in a specific community. What are the ranges of educational and technical skills among new immigrant workers? What are the challenges and opportunities faced by employers and new arrivals? How does culture – that of the immigrant as well as of the receiving community – play a role in the integration of the job seeker in the new workplace? How do businesses, intermediaries and educational and training institutions organize their systems and processes to effectively address these challenges and opportunities? Are there partnerships unique to groups of immigrants (e.g., consulates, federations or clubs of immigrant groups) or by status (e.g., refugee) that support new workforce development strategies?

• Geographic distribution: Many cities have experienced waves of immigrants over the course of their history. New York and Chicago are, perhaps, the archetypes. Other communities, most notably those in the heartland, last saw a wave of immigrants when European settlers populated the territory. While it is possible to map the distribution of new immigrant workers across the American landscape, we understand very little how the workplace challenges differ across urban, suburban and rural communities. What are the workplace challenges in urban areas? Rural areas? Suburban areas? What are the challenges of cultural and social integration within host communities and what are the associated learning issues?

• Sectoral distribution: In 2003, foreign-born workers were more likely than native workers to be in service occupations (23 percent and 15 percent, respectively). They also were more likely than native workers to work in production, transportation or material moving, and construction, extraction or maintenance. Among foreign-born workers, the highest proportion in management and professional occupations was among those from Asia and the lowest from Latin America, especially those from Central America. Among those coming from Central America, the highest proportions were in service occupation and in production, transportation and material moving. However, what are the distributions of new immigrant workers by industry and by occupation at the local level? How are new immigrants affecting local labor markets? What are the educational competencies and skills required for the jobs being filled by immigrant workers and what are the associated workplace learning issues?

• Responses: Much has been written and legislated with respect to educational reform, focusing on preparedness of native-born, entry-level workers to meet the challenges of an economy that puts a premium on high skills. However, foreign-born adults entering the workforce are the products of the educational systems of their home countries. While policymakers may employ a broad range of solutions starting with elementary and secondary education institutions in the addressing skills gaps in the native-born workforce, their primary focus is adults as it pertains to foreign-born workers. This shifts responsibility considerably from the public education system to a mix of work-based solutions at the place of employment, intermediaries at the community level, and adult- oriented public education and training institutions – especially community colleges. It also varies considerably by region of origin. Those coming from Europe, Asia and South America are somewhat better educated that those from Latin America, especially Central America. What are the roles and responsibilities of employers, schools, training institutions and intermediaries with respect to the education and training of new immigrant workers? What strategies and programs have been tried? What have they achieved?

• Long-term prospects: Many low-skill, low-wage jobs that are place specific – e.g., hospitality and restaurant staff, custodial work, landscaping and gardening – always will be part of the labor market landscape. However, America’s economic future is in high growth, high value-added activities – ones that require a highly skilled, literate workforce. Immigrants are no different from native-born workers in wanting to advance their condition in life, become self-sufficient and provide opportunities for their children that they were unable to enjoy. Many also are sending remittances to families abroad. What are the opportunities and possible barriers affecting the long-term economic successes of businesses that ultimately may rely on new immigrants? What are the opportunities and barriers for new immigrants in achieving economic self-sufficiency and long-term success? What is the role of workplace learning? What are the workplace solutions?

• Labor markets: Native-born workers often welcome new immigrants into the labor market. Communities have organized to ease the transition to the American way of life and work. Business groups, such as the Nashville Chamber of Commerce, have launched initiatives to integrate these workers into the workplace. Labor unions, especially those in health care, service and hospitality, have been aggressive in their support for foreign-born workers. However, many native-born workers feel threatened. Those who are poor and with few skills fear that immigrants willing to work for low wages and under poor working conditions help to keep down wages and working conditions. Those who have strong, but narrow technical skills fear that presumably low-wage, foreign-born replacements are being courted by their employers. Ironically, many employers are finding unexpected competition from overseas for high skilled workers due to rapid economic growth in China, India and in emerging economies and due to the recent decline in the value of the U.S. dollar. How do workers and job seekers who already are resident in the community participate successfully in the labor market as new immigrants expand the labor supply? How are training and educational resources distributed and targeted? What are the trends with respect to their distribution of these resources? What new strategies are being explored that address the workplace learning needs of both new immigrants and resident American workers? What are the opportunities and possible barriers to achieving successful communities where new immigrants reside? How do the educational attainment and skills of new immigrants affect the prospects for their communities? What are the roles of public systems? Intermediaries? Employers and unions? Conversely, what opportunities and possible barriers exist to attracting and retaining high skilled workers regardless of their countries of origin?

Remarkably, very little is documented about how new immigrants are integrated successfully into the workplace. A broad body of research exists on the composition and characteristics of new immigrant workers in the United States, the types of jobs they fill, and the challenges and advantages that they provide within the workplace and communities where they reside. Currently, there are several initiatives addressing an extensive range of issues tied to successful community integration of immigrants. One initiative, headed by the National Conference of State Legislatures and involving a consortium of associations, research organizations and immigrant groups, is the Building the New American Community Project. This project is an effort to foster and identify the elements of successful integration – to understand what that means, what works, what doesn’t work and why. The 3-year initiative, funded by the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement, is a response to the increasing diversity of refugees and immigrants in the United States, recent settlement patterns to “nontraditional” receiving communities, and the devolution of responsibilities for refugee and immigrant support services from federal to state government. Other efforts primarily at the local and regional level are documented and loosely coordinated by a consortium of donor institutions, Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees (GCIR).

In Chicago, many efforts are underway to integrate new immigrants into the community and economy. For example, the Illinois Coalition on Immigrant and Refugee Rights has been actively engaged in citizenship efforts and voting initiatives for new citizens as well as broad variety of efforts to assure access to human services. Instituto del Progreso Latino in association with the University of Illinois at Chicago and the Chicago Jobs Council has developed innovative programs providing an educational bridge for Latinos and other foreign-born workers to entry-level jobs. Immigrant communities as well as a host of public and private agencies have organized and sustained a variety of programs in areas such as community mental health, public health, jobs and job training, ESL, economic and community development, enterprise development, and preservation of families and family ties in the homeland.

In the workplace, the responses to the challenges posed by new immigrants are largely local and engage a mix of resources, including federal, state and local workforce development systems, employers, state and local educational systems and workforce intermediaries. The breadth of the challenges, the diversity of new immigrants, and the unprecedented dispersal of immigrants across the American landscape can easily overwhelm a discussion of national scope. This is especially likely in light of the fact that not much is known regarding how new immigrants are integrated successfully into the workplace. Consequently, we propose an initiative that establishes a foundation of what is currently known about successful workplace integration practices for new immigrants. This initiative will focus on Chicago where less formal policies and practices at the business and community level will be illuminated and documented. The overall goal is to establish a body of knowledge and experience that will support a national discussion on the economic integration of foreign-born workers.

Work plan

The initiative on the integration of new immigrants in the workplace is structured as a collaborative effort involving all interests: business, unions, community organizations and other intermediaries, education, and government. It is built on the traditions that characterized the Workplace Learning Conferences conducted by the Institute and previously by the Center for Educational Policy at the University of Wisconsin and the organizational model for the recent Partnership for Employer-Employee Responsive Systems (PEERS) initiative. However, it stands alone from most other projects in workforce development in that it is a broad exploration of the issues, challenges, opportunities and working solutions. It is driven by the observation that neither policy makers nor practitioners have conceptualized the range of problems and solutions that may be found at the ground level. This project is intended to record and bring coherence to knowledge and experiences as they exist today so that others may develop policies and practices that address the needs of the workers, businesses, and communities. This project will:
• Be grown from the grassroots and will involve all elements of the workforce development system – public and private – from the local level on up
• Focus on Chicago as an innovation and learning center
• Systematically develop, support and disseminate information to policy makers and workforce practitioners on workplace learning strategies supporting the successful integration of new immigrant workers into the workplace
• Be guided by a community-based committee comprised of individuals from business, education, workforce development intermediary organizations, unions and immigrant organizations.

The Institute for Work and the Economy will serve as project lead for the Initiative. Northern Illinois University will be the primary contractor and will have fiduciary responsibility for the project.

A consortium of business leaders, state government officials, and leaders from organized labor, education and community-based organizations will guide the initiative. A working consortium of ten to fifteen members will be established in early 2005 prior to the launch of the project. There is no pre-established limited on the ultimate size of the consortium.

Members of the consortium will come primarily from Chicago area businesses and institutions. The members from Chicago will be chosen to reflect the diversity of economic activities and immigrant experiences in the metropolitan area. Particular attention will be given to assuring the involvement of opinion leaders with practical experience in employment issues. The consortium also will include members from outside Chicago in order to provide a national perspective and to help guide the discussion on the broader lessons that may be learned from this initiative.

The project will be accomplished in two phases:

Phase 1: The initial phase of this project will be completed in the first three calendar quarters of the project. It will result in an appraisal of workplace integration practices and policies with respect to new immigrants in both the United States and abroad. This appraisal will serve as a benchmark on the current state of understanding of what is known about strategies for integrating new immigrants into the workplace. A two-day roundtable of policy experts, researchers and practitioners from the United States will be convened. Experts from Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom will be consulted in the development of benchmark practices. These are countries experiencing high volumes of immigration, but varying in key areas of policies and practices. This roundtable will be supplemented with interviews of leaders in workforce policy, practice and research on the challenges of integrating new immigrants into the workplace.

The Phase 1 deliverables are:
• A benchmark roundtable and interviews of experts and researchers on policies and practices in the U.S.
• A review of policies and practices in Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom
• A review of available literature on economic integration of new immigrants
• A report of Phase 1 findings.

Phase 2: The second phase will completed in three quarters. It will be initiated in the second quarter of the project. It will illuminate workplace-based initiatives specifically in the Chicago consolidated metropolitan statistical area beginning with a convening forum held in the third quarter of the project. The forum will involve employers employing new arrivals and engaged in their integration in the workplace, immigrant communities, state and local government officials, union, community organizations and academic institutions. It will be conducted over two days and will be designed to survey the full range of issues and challenges in the context of the workplace. It will focus specifically on the needs of businesses within the region or community, the needs of the immigrants, the needs of resident workers that may perceive immigrants as competition within the local labor market, workforce learning strategies and processes that are being employed, how communities or industry clusters measure success, and the experiences of practitioners, policy makers and researchers. An edited transcription of the discussion and all source materials and presentations supporting the forum will be published electronically in a proceeding. The forum is intended to bring to light the issues and challenges as well as apparent solutions in the forms of policies and practices meriting fuller attention.

The Institute will support an ongoing exchange of lessons and experiences among area policymakers and practitioners. The exchange will be accomplished over the course of six hosted events in communities throughout the Chicago CMSA. Each event will bring together as many as twenty local business, labor civic and community leaders and will be held in cooperation with local business and community organizations (e.g., neighborhood chambers, local industrial councils, local investment councils, etc.). The result of this effort will be a compendium of noteworthy policies and practices, and recommendations for the development of a working group that will sustain a community-wide effort.

The Institute will conduct an analysis of publicly funded training in Illinois over the past five years of businesses and industries employing significant numbers of immigrants. This review will describe the types of training (basic and cross-functional skills, occupational skills), the level of training (basic, intermediate, advanced), and how training was positioned (e.g., whether it was described as a project aimed primarily at new arrivals or whether it was designed to bring new workers into the workplace who also were immigrants).

Finally, the Institute will make recommendations and propose a roadmap for further research on the integration of new immigrants in the workplace. The purpose of this report is to crystallize the year’s work into actionable steps supporting the development of effective policies and practices.

The deliverables include:
• A forum of practitioners and policymakers in the Chicago CMSA, especially businesses that are engaged already in such integration processes. The forum also will include intermediaries, public agencies, education and training providers and advocacy groups serving immigrants or populations of native-born who are perceived as competing economically with new arrivals
• Six community exchanges
• Proceedings of the forum outlining existing policies and practices in Chicago
• A report analyzing publicly funded training in Illinois over the past five years of businesses and industries employing significant numbers of immigrants
• A report with recommendations and a roadmap for further research.

Project Leadership.

The project will be led by the Institute for Work and the Economy, a not-for-profit, 501(c)3 corporation, incorporated in August 2000 in the State of Illinois. An eleven-person Board of Directors with experience across the full spectrum of workforce policy issues provides overall direction for the Institute. The vision of the Institute for Work and the Economy is to effect structural improvements in workforce development through the advancement of contextual knowledge systems – knowledge systems that connect new knowledge and experiences to the learner’s frame of reference.

Our mission is to accomplish this through:

1. Development and implementation of the semantic web supporting knowledge exchange within the workforce development system

2. Collaborations advancing new workers and their employing businesses through workplace learning

3. Initiatives that promote and support skills and knowledge superiority of today’s employed as the means for growing America’s economy

4. Other initiatives advancing workforces and businesses through contextual knowledge systems.

The Institute is staffed full-time by Peter A. Creticos. He is employed by Northern Illinois University and is on contract to the Institute. He has an extensive background in workforce policy and practice dating to 1976.

Additional Institute staffing is project-specific. The initiative on the integration of new immigrants in the workplace will involve James Schultz, who retired recently from his position as Senior Manager for Public Policy, Government and Community Relations at Walgreens Company and Amy Beeler, a former project manager at the National Alliance Business and recently the Skills for Life Manager at the London Central Learning and Skills Council in the United Kingdom. Biographies for Messrs. Creticos and Schultz and Ms. Beeler are attached.

Management Structure: The Institute for Work and the Economy is an independent corporation, staffed and housed by Northern Illinois University. The Institute is under the overall management of the Vice President of Administration and University Outreach and under the immediate direction of the Associate Vice President for University Outreach. Similar arrangements exist with the Illinois Council on Economic Education and the Illinois Manufacturing Extension Center. The University will be the primary contractor and will fiduciary responsibility for the project.

Biographies

Peter A. Creticos is President of the Institute for Work and the Economy and Senior Research Associate at the Center for Governmental Studies at Northern Illinois University. Prior to establishing the Institute in 2000, Mr. Creticos served as the Vice President for the Midwest Regional Office in Chicago, Illinois, of the National Alliance of Business. His work at NAB was focused on the development of a workforce system that is employer-demand driven while affording individuals opportunities to achieve their personal aspirations. The National Alliance of Business was regarded as the nation’s leading business-led organization working exclusively on workforce development and education reform.

Mr. Creticos joined the National Alliance of Business in September 1997 after working for nearly four years at the Illinois State Chamber of Commerce where he was responsible for development of a skills-based job matching system for the Internet. He also was President of the for-profit subsidiary, Center for Business Management. Prior to joining the Chamber, Mr. Creticos was self-employed, consulting on economic and community development matters and conducting research on workforce issues. He began his professional career working at the level of state government, first at the Council of State Governments and later as the lead staff on economic and workforce development for the Illinois State Senate President.

Mr. Creticos has a Ph.D. from the Graduate School at Northwestern University. He did his work in Industrial Engineering and Management Science at the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. He also has a Master of Management at Northwestern’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management, a Master of Arts in Political Science from the University of Missouri at St. Louis and a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy from Washington University in St. Louis. Mr. Creticos was a Coro Foundation Fellow in St. Louis.

James M. Schultz graduated from the University of Denver receiving his B.S.B.A. in 1969 and an M.B.A. in 1971. Joining Walgreens Store Operations in 1971, he moved to the Human Resource Division in 1973. Retiring in 2004, his responsibilities covered a wide range of H.R. areas: training, management & executive development, productivity improvement, knowledge management, human factors engineering, systems documentation, human resource planning and information systems, and media production.

He served as a member of the Illinois Occupational Skills Standards and Credentialing Committee, a group working towards standardized and readily recognizable and transferable job competency designations. He recently finished serving on the Illinois Workforce Investment Board, a group advising the Governor about optimizing workforce development programs.

Jim is past-president & Honorary Director of the Board of the Jewish Vocational Services of Chicago, a non-sectarian agency providing vocational and rehabilitation services to the Chicagoland area.

He belongs to the International Society for Performance Improvement, the American Society for Training & Development, the Human Resource Planning Society, the Society for Human Resource Management and the National Center for Nonprofit Boards.

Amy M. Beeler most recently served as the Skills for Life Manager at the London Central Learning and Skills Council in the United Kingdom. She was responsible for designing and implementing London’s strategy to help adults achieve necessary literacy, numeracy and ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) skills. She managed bidding and funding processes for local education bodies and non-profit organizations in order to support this strategy.

Prior to relocating to England, Ms. Beeler served as a Program Manager at the National Alliance of Business in Washington, DC. She specialized in national projects promoting the role community colleges in workforce development. Ms. Beeler also worked as an Economic Policy Analyst at the International Economic Development Council (IEDC – formerly the Council for Urban Economic Development) from 1998 to 1999. There she researched and wrote guidance on linking workforce and economic development for economic development professionals.

Ms. Beeler received a Master of Science degree in 2002 in International Development from the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London. She specialized in economic development in Africa and international finance. Ms. Beeler holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Boston University in Anthropology and a certificate in African Studies.