JobMakers Podcast

Production of Pioneer Institute + The Immigrant Learning Center

JobMakers is a podcast collaboration between The Immigrant Learning Center and the Pioneer Institute. In each episode, Director of the Public Education Institute Denzil Mohammed interviews an immigrant entrepreneur about their story, their business and their contributions to their community. The project highlights the unique resilience and journeys of foreign-born entrepreneurs. Explore the story of a refugee child who escaped pirates and grew up to found a law firm, a woman of color who opened a hedge fund in her dorm room and much more.

To learn more about immigrant entrepreneurship, explore our page of resources, our Immigrant Entrepreneur Hall of Fame or our video interviews with immigrant entrepreneurs.


Episode 30: John Dearie

JobMakers podcast logo: John Dearie - Halt immigration? Fall behind.As the founder and president of the Center for American Entrepreneurship, John Dearie knows how immigrant entrepreneurs create jobs, drive innovation and expand the economy. Dearie believes that the United State’s current approach to immigration is needlessly partisan and toxic. Tune in to learn how he thinks a more balanced approach will benefit both U.S.-born and foreign-born people.

Episode 29: Bernat Olle

JobMakers podcast logo: Bernat Olle gets a visa to improve the worldBernat Olle, an immigrant from Catalonia, Spain, founded a bioscience company to create medicines that can alter the human microbiome. He discusses how immigration enables international cooperation and innovation that benefits everyone. Listen to learn what Olle says connects him to immigrants who come here with nothing but a suitcase and a dream. We also have a full-length video interview here.

Episode 28: Abdul Saboor Sakhizada [part two]

JobMakers podcast logo: Saboor Sakhizada, Afghan Translator - Traitor or Patriot?Afghan translator turned American immigrant joins JobMakers for a second episode to discuss his current campaign to evacuate fellow Afghan interpreters and their families, including his own younger brother. Sakhizada shares how interpreters face challenges both in Afghanistan and in the U.S. Listen to learn what he says U.S.-born people can do to help.

Part two of two.

Episode 27: Abdul Saboor Sakhizada [part one]

JobMakers podcast logo: Saboor Sahkizada: Afghan translator, child of warBefore coming to the U.S., Abdul Saboor Sakhizada worked for the U.S. Army in Afghanistan as an instructor, manager and translator, winning an award for his service in the process. Now he’s struggling to ensure that people  like him have the opportunity to reach safety in the United States and contribute to their new home. Tune in to hear his remarkable story and his insights into how the current wave of Afghan refugees will fare in the United States.

Part one of two.

Episode 26: Jim Stergios

JobMakers podcast logo: Jim Stergios on why immigrants are crucial to our successAs a child of immigrant entrepreneurs, Jim Stergios has special insight into the contributions of foreign-born people in the United States. As the executive director of the Pioneer Institute think tank, he also understands the current heated political conversation over immigration. Tune in to discover how he believes today’s immigrants are different and similar to the immigrants of his parents’ generation.

Episode 25: Jaisang Sun

JobMakers podcast logo: Jaisang Sun gives the facts about immigrantsAs an academic with a focus in refugee studies, Jaisang Sun has a unique perspective on today’s immigration conversation. Sun discusses the costs and significant benefits of our current refugee program, highlighting how refugees contribute financially and strengthen our communities. Listen to hear his perspective on the new influx of Afghan refugees that the United States is currently welcoming

Episode 24: Jeff Goldman

JobMakers podcast logo: Jeff Goldman on how immigrants keep America competitiveAs co-founder of the Massachusetts Global Entrepreneur in Residence program, Jeff Goldman has seen firsthand how immigrant entrepreneurs make the economy stronger and more dynamic. Goldman discusses how the United States can better capitalize on the innovation and talents of immigrants, particularly entrepreneurial immigrant college students. Tune in to also find out how he sees undocumented workers impacting U.S.-born people’s day-to-day lives.

Episode 23: Trevor Mattos

JobMakers podcast logo: Trevor Mattos shows how Massachusetts runs on immigrantsOn behalf of The Boston Foundation, Trevor Mattos studies how immigrants have positively impacted the economy in every sector, from small businesses to biotech. His work goes beyond the economy, though, and demonstrates how diversity itself is an incredible benefit to U.S.-born and foreign-born Americans. Listen to learn how he can prove it.

Episode 22: Danielle Goldman

JobMakers podcast logo: Danielle Goldman on why the U.S. needs immigrant talentDanielle Goldman joins the podcast to discuss how she helps growing companies connect with in-demand, highly skilled immigrant workers. Through Open Avenues Foundation, Goldman “opens avenues” for the United States to welcome foreign-born innovators and entrepreneurs. Tune in to discover how a well-timed H-1B visa is responsible for a technology that many businesses and families have relied upon during the COVID-19 crisis.

Episode 21: James Witte

JobMakers podcast logo: Prof. James Witte on immigration disinformationDirector of the Institute for Immigration Research James Witte shares how he uses immigration data, research and stories to combat misinformation and disinformation about immigrants. He also discusses the challenges of communicating accurate, data-based information in the current media ecosystem. Listen to hear an academic’s take on the positive impact of immigrants on the United States.

Episode 20: Sonny Vu

JobMakers podcast logo: Sonny Vu, former refugee, uses faith to drive innovationFleeing Vietnam and coming to the United States as a refugee instilled a strong work ethic and drive to succeed in Sonny Vu. As a serial tech entrepreneur, he has started companies worth hundreds of millions of dollars and created countless jobs. Listen to learn how he strives to create “positive, planet-level impact.” We have a full-length video interview from earlier in his career here.

Episode 19: Shane Smyth

JobMakers podcast logo: Shane Smyth on how immigrants saved restaurantsKeeping his five restaurants afloat through the COVID-19 crisis has given Shane Smyth unique insight into the role immigrant entrepreneurs like him play in the restaurant industry. Irish-born Smyth also discusses how immigrants make up one in five food prep and service workers and two in five agricultural workers. We have a full-length video interview here.

Episode 18: Anita Worden

JobMakers podcast logo: Anita Worden takes immigrants' skills to the next levelAs an English-born immigrant entrepreneur who founded a successful solar company, Anita Worden is passionate about welcoming immigrants and women into the growing renewable energy and tech sector. Listen to the episode to discover how she believes we can shift the narrative on immigration in the United States.

Episode 17: David Kallick

JobMakers podcast logo: David Dyssegaard Kallick on the facts about immigrationAs an economics professor and researcher, David Kallick has studied the many ways that immigrants and refugees contribute to our economy. In this episode of JobMakers, Kallick shares how immigrants revitalize metros, combat economic decline, reverse population loss, create jobs and more. Tune in to hear an academic’s take on the positive impact of immigrants on the United States economy.

Episode 16: Ely Kaplansky

JobMakers podcast logo: Ely Kaplansky goes from immigrant to Inc. 5000 insurance entrepreneurEly Kaplansky had an unconventional start. Born to parents who met in a concentration camp and moved to the United States for a better life, Kaplansky dropped out of high school before launching Kaplansky Insurance as a young man. Today, Kaplansky Insurance employs 85 employees in 15 offices across Massachusetts. Listen to learn how Kaplansky took advantage of all the freedom and opportunity he discovered in the United States.

Episode 15: Semyon Dukach

JobMakers podcast logo: Semyon Dukach on the high value of immigrants for the U.S. economyLongtime angel investor Semyon Dukach started One Way Ventures to invest in immigrant entrepreneurs after he noticed how well their startups performed. As a refugee from the Soviet Union, he knew the grit and resourcefulness it took to start over somewhere new. Learn how investing in immigrant talent has paid off for Dukach, the immigrant founders and the economy!

Episode 14: Jo Napolitano

JobMakers podcast logo: Jo Napolitano on the inspiring stories of immigrant childrenJo Napolitano believes that giving immigrant and refugee students access to a good education is both the most moral and the most practical choice. Drawing on her own experiences as an immigrant and her years of reporting, she discusses the unlocked potential of foreign-born students. Tune in to also discover what she learned reporting on students at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Episode 13: Umesh Bhuju

JobMakers podcast logo: Umesh Bhuju seeks a fair deal for immigrants, farmers & the environmentUmesh Bhuju’s exposure to child labor as a young person in Nepal inspired his current investment in fair trade practices. His coffee shop ensures that their products come from well-paid farmers using environmentally sustainable practices. Listen to discover how Bhuju is combating food insecurity during the pandemic even as his business faces challenges. We also have a full-length video interview here.

Episode 12: Babak Movassaghi

JobMakers podcast logo: Dr. Babak Movassaghi on winning football & healthcare innovationNavigating his identity as a German-Iranian-American pursuing the American Dream has given Dr. Babak Movassaghi the flexibility and creativity to reinvent himself several times. Whether he’s obtaining a PhD in Biomedical Engineering, captaining the German NFL football team or founding a company that revolutionizes telehealth, Movassaghi has used an immigrant mindset to thrive. Tune in to find out how his company has kept people safe during the COVID-19 pandemic with its telehealth platform.

Episode 11: Jitka Borowick

JobMakers podcast logo: Jitka Borowick on starting a small business during COVIDJitka Borowick, an immigrant entrepreneur from the Czech Republic, initially intended to spend just one year in the United States to learn English. She ended up moving to the United States permanently and founded Cleangreen, a cleaning service committed to environmentally-friendly practices, and Nove Yoga. Listen to learn about her difficulties learning another language and culture, her pathway to entrepreneurship and her courageous decision to open a new business during a pandemic.

Episode 10: Josh Feast

JobMakers podcast logo: Josh Feast Answers the Call With Artificial IntelligenceJosh Feast, an immigrant entrepreneur from New Zealand, has a goal anyone could get behind: make the call center experience better for everyone. In the latest JobMakers episode, he explains how he’s using AI to make it happen and creating over 200 jobs in the process. Listen to discover his perspective on ethics in the AI sector, what inspired him to enter the field and why he thinks “diversity defines America.”

Episode 9: Mahmud Jafri

JobMakers podcast logo: Mahmud Jafri Builds on a Pakistani Legacy in AmericaWhen Mahmud Jafri first came to the United States from Pakistan, he hit a “concrete ceiling” in the corporate world. He turned to entrepreneurship and started a business selling imported hand-knotted rugs. Through his business, Dover Rugs and Home, Jafri is creating opportunities in Massachusetts and for women artisans abroad. Learn how he believes integrating immigrants can benefit all U.S. residents! We also have a full-length video interview here.

Episode 8: Larry O’Toole

JobMakers podcast logo: Larry O'Toole on Workplace, Culture & Immigration PolicyLarry O’Toole has run his company, Gentle Giants Moving Company, for more than 40 years. He’s determined to ensure that all immigrants have the same opportunities that he did to fully participate in the economy and build something that will endure. That’s why he’s joined a group that promotes state and federal policies that foster complete economic integration of foreign-born talent and sustained prosperity for everyone. Listen to our interview to discover how he overcame the challenges of culture shock and discovered his untraditional path into entrepreneurship.

Episode 7: Amar Sawhney

JobMakers logo: Amar Sawhney on Sikhs, STEM & COVIDAmar Sawhney turned his initial struggles to find work after immigrating to the United States from India into motivation to pursue a PhD and become a serial entrepreneur. He has started eight companies, creating more than 4,000 jobs and $2 billion in revenue. Listen to our interview to discover how he overcame obstacles along the way, his perspective on the COVID-19 pandemic and what he wants people to know about Sikh Americans. We also have a full-length video interview from earlier in his entrepreneurship journey here.

Episode 6: Max Faingezicht

Podcast logo; "Max Faingezicht on the future of work"Max Faingezicht’s Costa Rican background has helped him build a successful business connecting United States companies with remote software engineers in Latin America. His work has helped foster entrepreneurship in Costa Rica, bring valuable talent to U.S.-based companies and reshape the future of work at a time when remote work is booming. Learn what inspired his journey! We also have a full-length video interview here.

Episode 5: Hilda Torres

Hilda Torres podcast logoWhen she immigrated from Mexico, Hilda Torres found that making a living in the United States would be more difficult than she had been told. She rallied and started a multilingual daycare that quickly became one of the most successful businesses in her city. Learn how she used grit and education to make her mark! We also have a full-length video interview here.

Episode 4: Hong Tran

As a child fleeing Vietnam, Tran lost much of his family in a pirate attack. He rebuilt his life in the United States and founded a series of businesses, including a chain of laundromats, a liquor store, a real estate business and a law firm. Learn about how he overcame extraordinary adversity and what he thinks about the surge in anti-AAPI (Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders) hate during the pandemic. We also have a full-length video interview here.

Episode 3: Sandro Catanzaro

Catanzaro came to the United States from Peru planning to become an engineer, but he dreamed of starting his own business. In the end he did both, founding DataXu and developing technology that helped send NASA to Mars, among many other applications. Discover how he has navigated the world of tech as an immigrant entrepreneur. We also have a full-length video interview here.

Episode 2: Christina Qi

Receiving government benefits gave Qi’s Chinese American family the stability she needed as a child to eventually make it to MIT. While in college, a bad Wall Street internship experience inspired her to start her own hedge fund out of her dorm room. Learn more about how Qi paved her own path in an industry that’s often inhospitable to women of color.

Episode 1: Herby Duverné

Duverné struggled when he first came to the United States from Haiti while speaking little English. He always had an entrepreneurial spirit and a desire to keep others safe. Learn how he combined these impulses into Windwalker Group, a cybersecurity company that employs more than 100 people. We also have a full-length video interview here.

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