As Director of Economic Empowerment, Erica supports the development, implementation, and evaluation of economic empowerment programs that serve refugee, immigrant, and low-income families in nearly 30 communities across the U.S. In this role, Erica oversees all of IRC’s U.S. Economic Empowerment technical team. This works includes a focus on workforce programming, including programming for youth and adults, career pathway programs, innovative models of vocational ESL, and strategies to effectively serve adults with basic skills deficiencies. In her work, Erica is also leading IRC’s implementation of integrated economic empowerment services that includes evidence-based financial coaching, access to financial products through IRC’s Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), and small business development.
Erica has provided training and capacity building to stakeholders at the federal, state and local level, including the Department of Labor, Health and Human Services, Office of Refugee Resettlement, the State Department, state and local TANF stakeholders, universities in nearly a dozen states, Migration Policy Institute, Annie E. Casey Foundation, Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees, Workforce Matters, Local Initiative Support Corporation, state agencies (employment and social services) in California, New Jersey, Montana, Kansas, Texas, and many others. Erica currently serves on the Skills for California Leadership Council, hosted by the National Skills Coalition, as the co-chair on the board of Workforce Ventures, on the Advisory Board of the YMCA in San Diego, and previously served as a member of the San Diego Workforce Partnership Youth Council. Prior to coming to IRC, Erica held positions with community organizations, higher education, and collaborative public/private partnerships, including working domestically and abroad in the Middle East. She holds a Ph.D. in International Studies (University of Denver) and is the author of several reports including Building America’s New Workforce (2019), Skill, Career, and Wage Mobility Among Refugees (2018), and Financial Capability for New Americans (2016) as well as the book, Complex Political Victims, Kumarian Press (2007).