Advocating for Improved Professional Integration of Immigrants:
Since 2012, MANA has educated fellow Mainers on the knowledge worker gap, on national and local barriers to professional integration and strategies to overcome them and grow the Maine economy.
In Fall 2012, MANA began collaborating with the nationally-known Partnership for a New American Economy (founded by Mike Bloomberg) and the Maine Development Foundation to publicise key facts on how immigration integration helps grow the Maine economy.
In Winter 2012/2013, successfully advocated for the $50,000 in Maine DOL Health Workforce Development funds to be allocated for recent refugees and asylees to transfer their credentials and professions to Maine/ U.S.
In March 2013, Provided the initial testimonies and economic justification for the Joint Select Committee for Workforce Development to include in LD90 funding for a“Welcome Center” for professional integration of immigrants in Maine. (Passed, Spring 2013, resulting in the “New Mainers Resource Center” (NMRC)). Since then, MANA has been a watchdog group to ensure that programs such as NMRC are are effectively using taxpayer’s money.
From Spring 2013 to present, MANA leaders have been invited to give presentations on how to overcome barriers to hiring for immigrant professionals to many events such as the Diversity Hiring Coalition Annual retreat (2013), Sustain Southern Maine Conference on “New Mainers and Economic Vitality” (2013), and the Empower Immigrant Women Conference (2016) to raise awareness of this untapped pool of professionals in Maine.
In Fall 2016, MANA launched the first "MANA Mingle" subgroup, MANA Mingle: For Legal Professionals. This group is co-chaired by board members Francine Ngabu (originally from the DR Congo) and Ali Tozier (originally from Falmouth, Maine). They bring together both U.S. trained legal professionals and foreign trained legal professionals at mingle events in the hopes that those who used to practice as lawyers and judges in other countries before fleeing to the U.S. can be re-integrated in some way into the legal community here in Maine. If you are involved in the legal profession in Maine and would like to get involved, please contact us to let us know. Also, MANA is looking for leaders to head other MANA Mingle groups in other professional industries, so please let us know if you would be interested in learning more about that.
From 2012 to 2018, MANA also provided language-specific (French, Spanish and Portuguese) career coaching and case management for recently arrived applicants for asylum and other immigrants, including helping them create impactful LinkedIn profiles, connecting them with social and professional networks and supports, linking them to job opportunities in their area of expertise, and helping them to secure and retain jobs. In 2018, MANA founding Board Member, Stefanie Trice Gill, who did these placements, founded IntWork, to continue this work.
Raising Awareness of the Need for Immigrant Leadership and Inclusion:
In November 2015, advocated for immigration to be a key focus of the "Envision Maine" conference, resulting NY-based Dan Wallace, Partnership for a New American Economy, being invited to give a Keynote presentation at USM.
In Spring 2016, MANA leaders took the initiative to lead a statewide “Welcoming Committee, bringing together immigrant leaders with the Maine State Chamber, Maine Development Foundation, CEI, and corporate partners such as Jackson Labs, that is now working with Welcoming America and the Partnership for a New American Economy to build momentum in Maine towards a “Welcoming Maine” initiative.
In Spring 2016, MANA joined the New Mainers’ Alliance/ New Mainers PAC to ensure that immigrant communities have a voice within civic, non-profit, philanthropic, and government organizations serving immigrants.
In Winter/Spring 2019, MANA brought together the elected leaders of Maine’ Immigrant Community Associations in a series of meetings to develop a shared Immigrant Leader Vision Board to plan for next steps to advance immigrant success in Maine.
Advancing Racial Justice and Racial Equity:
MANA has been active not only in combatting anti-Muslim and anti-Islam sentiment but also in working to overcome stereotypes and racial discrimination leading to underemployment for (primarily Black) immigrants. Currently, many Black (African) immigrants -- despite high-level career experience and English skills -- are being placed in cleaning and other manual jobs once they arrive in Maine.
MANA has presented employers and other stakeholders with compelling data that contradicts the concept of immigrants as natural-born “service recipients”. Rather, we turn this idea on its head by, among other things: pointing out the latent talent and economic power of these (primarily African) immigrants; showing how harnessing and growing this talent can effectively close Maine’s workforce gaps, and linking the barriers we see in Maine to cultural nativism, implicit bias (See Implicit.Harvard.edu) and national research on racial bias in hiring.
We also highlight the success of best practices, such as Welcoming Cleveland and St. Louis Mosaic that have countered this trend and brought economic growth through inclusion