Lauren Crain, WES Mariam Assefa Fund

Tell us a little bit about your background and why you joined Workforce Matters.

    Over the past 15 years, I’ve worked across the social sector to help build and launch new projects and programs, including at the Aspen Institute and Scholars at Risk. I joined World Education Services (WES) in 2019 to help launch its new philanthropic initiative: the Mariam Assefa Fund. As someone who was new to the workforce space, I found Workforce Matters an invaluable resource for learning about workforce philanthropy.  

    Immigrants make up nearly 20% of the U.S. workforce and represent a significant percentage of the workforce in sectors facing critical talent shortages, including the care economy, manufacturing, and the hospitality industry. As workforce providers and employers seek creative solutions to reimagine talent pipelines in these industries, the skills, talents, and strengths of the immigrant workforce must be part of the conversation. Through our engagement with Workforce Matters, we have been able to learn from other funders, engage with policymakers, and hear from the field about both challenges and opportunities in these sectors and across the workforce ecosystem.  

    What is something people might not know about you?

    I was born in California but spent most of my childhood living outside the U.S. for my father’s work, including in Australia and Argentina. My family was fortunate to be able to pursue economic opportunity by moving to new places, and that experience led me to have a deep appreciation for the goals and ambitions of migrants who seek the same opportunities in the U.S.

    What is something you are looking forward to this year?

    This year, we are celebrating both WES’ 50th anniversary and the WES Mariam Assefa Fund’s 5th!  For 50 years, WES has been helping people live, work and thrive in new places, issuing credential evaluation to more 4 million individuals in more than 200 countries. Over the last 5 years, the WES Mariam Assefa Fund has awarded 26M in funding through 250+ grants, impact investments, and partnerships.  Together, these milestones mark our ongoing commitment to creating more inclusive economies for immigrants and refugees in the U.S. and Canada.