Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Immigrant Entrepreneur Award Winners 2016-2017

2016 Award Winners:

Dorit Brauer for the Brauer Institute of Holistic Medicine

Dorit came from Germany, via Israel, to Pittsburgh in 1998 and offered her Holistic Medicine Services at the Center for Integrative Medicine at UPMC. She also taught meditation courses for Highmark. In 2013 she founded The Brauer Institute for Holistic Medicine and teaches the only 300-hour Professional Holistic Reflexology Certification Program in the state of Pennsylvania. Programs start every September. She is the author of the award-winning book Girls Don’t Ride Motorbikes – A Spiritual Adventure Into Life’s Labyrinth chronicling her modern-day pilgrimage in which she embarked onto a 7,430-mile solo motorcycle adventure across the US. 

Luis von Ahn, Ph.D. for Duolingo.
Luis is co-founder and CEO of Duolingo, the world’s most popular language-learning platform with over 150 million users. Originally from Guatemala, Luis is known for co-inventing CAPTCHAs, being a MacArthur Fellow and selling two companies to Google in his 20s. He came to the U.S. in 1996 to attend Duke University and moved to Pittsburgh thereafter to get his Ph.D. at Carnegie Mellon. Luis has been named one of the 10 Most Brilliant Scientists by Popular Science, one of the Top Innovators Under 35 by MIT Technology Review, and one of the 100 Most Innovative People in Business by Fast Company.

Ann Flynn Schlicht for her role in Chatham University's Women's Business Center.
In April 2016, Anne Flynn Schlicht was appointed as Director of Chatham University's Women’s Business Center. Prior to this, she served as Assistant Director for ten years at the Center for Women’s Entrepreneurship at Chatham University and seven years as Professor in Entrepreneurship, at the Center for Entrepreneurship Studies, University of Limerick, Ireland. In 2005, Anne was chosen as the second “Rooney International Visiting Scholar” which facilitated her move to the US. Anne has a wealth of international experience as a professor of entrepreneurship, as a business consultant and instructor, a certified Kauffman FastTrac facilitator, and has presented at conferences internationally on the topic of women entrepreneurship and education. She currently serves on the host committee for the Greater Pittsburgh Athena Awards and is the recipient of the NAWBO Volunteer of the Year award, the Pittsburgh Magazine 40 under 40 Award and the Pittsburgh Business Times Fast Trackers Award which recognizes individuals whose creativity, vision and passion enrich the Pittsburgh region. 

Viviana Alteri for Istituto Mondo Italiano
Born and educated in Rome, Viviana Altieri came to Pittsburgh after a $100 bet with two Duquesne students met while she was studying in Russia. Thanks to her business and multilingual skills, her prosperous career in corporate America brought Viviana to work in biotech, banking, B2B e-commerce and international business development where she globe-trotted the world to develop multimillion-dollar contracts and new markets in Europe, Middle East and Africa. Viviana’s entrepreneurial spirit and desire to connect with globally-minded people eventually led her to settle in Pittsburgh and create Istituto Mondo Italiano with the goal of welcoming and satisfying the needs of the Italian community in Pittsburgh and recent newcomers. Mondo Italiano has become “the” point of reference for anyone passionate about Italy and the Italian culture, is the only center in town having achieved the prestigious approval certification from the University for Foreigners in Siena, Italy, and has expanded its services to provide interpretation and translation services in 20+ languages. 

Finally, we honored Mikhail Khail for a whole lifetime of notable achievements. Mikhail has recently passed away, but you learn about his remarkable life in his obituary.

2017 Award Winners:

Yanlai Wu for Yanlai Dance Academy.

Yanlai Wu is an internationally celebrated performer and choreographer whose background, training, and dedication to her artistry are reflected in the values of Yanlai Dance Academy. 
Ms. Wu began teaching in the United States in 2003 at the Mitsi Dancing School in Houston, whose students were recent participants on America’s Got Talent. Moving to Pittsburgh a year later, Ms. Wu founded her own dance academy - Oriental Star Dance School. One of the first instructors to join Ms. Wu was Ying Li, a former classmate at Beijing Dance Academy who was a celebrated prima ballerina with the Pittsburgh Ballet Theater. Ying Li has since returned to China. Ms. Wu changed the name of the school to Yanlai Dance Academy when she expanded the dance curriculum. Ms. Wu continues to offer students her support and encouragement as she leads them through the artistic world and beauty of many dance forms. 

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In over 23 years in business, AC&NC has installed its JetStor RAID (redundant array of independent disks) systems for over 4,000 clients in numerous locations in the United States, Canada, Asia, Eastern and Western Europe, and Australia. A finalist in the EY Entrepreneur of the Year 2016, Gene recognizes that risk-taking is an inherent part of running a small business that is in direct competition with multi-billion dollar corporations. The challenge of that competition and the thrill of coming ahead have motivated Gene to develop AC&NC as a nimble company that meets the customer's needs in creative and innovative ways, including his involvement with new partners at the development stages of new products.

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Congzhe (Nicole) Xu for uTranslated 

uTranslated also won the Student Innovator Award from Pittsburgh University. Nicole Xu and her collaborator are profiled in this video.

Congzhe Xu

Rosmaria Cristello for the Latino Community Center in Pittsburgh

Rosamaria Cristello is the Executive Director and Founder of the Latino Community Center in Pittsburgh, PA. The Latino Center supports the growing Latino community through Youth Development and Enrichment opportunities, advocacy, leadership, and education. Before launching the community center, Rosamaria directed the Latino Family Center under the Allegheny Intermediate Unit, which focuses on early childhood development. Under her leadership, a Latino Community Assessment for Allegheny County was conducted to better understand the dreams and goals of the more vulnerable Latinos and the barriers they are facing in achieving their goals. 

Ellen Freeman for her immigration-related work in Porter Wright Morris & Arthur, LLP

Ellen Freeman is partner-in-charge of the Pittsburgh office of Porter Wright Morris & Arthur, LLP, a large business law firm serving a worldwide base of clients from seven offices across Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C. With 18 years of practice in all facets of employment-based immigration, Ellen works with growing organizations to advise on U.S. immigration law, strategy, compliance, and training. Her depth of experience fully supports clients moving through the complex steps of business growth and shifting employment strategy, including the formation of corporate entities, the establishment of U.S. operations and applications for temporary visas through the permanent residence. 

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Betty Cruz for Change Agency

In September 2016, Betty launched Change Agency, a social enterprise that serves as a hub for targeted civic initiatives that promote inclusion in our region. The organization’s flagship project is All for All, a countywide initiative guided by an Immigrant Community Blueprint designed by the community. Driven by collaboration with community and cross-sector partners, All for All aims to advance economic opportunity, break down barriers, and increase institutional best practices to further immigrant inclusion across the Pittsburgh region. Betty has received the following accolades: Islamic Center of Pittsburgh for Humanity Day, The Incline as a Community Leader, Peace Islands Institute and Turkish Cultural Center for Public Service, Pittsburgh Magazine 40 Under 40, and Next City Vanguard. She is the recipient of the 2014 YWCA Racial Justice Award in Government and she has been honored by GSPIA as a 4 Under 40 Distinguished Alumnus. In 2015, Governor Tom Wolf appointed Betty to the Governor's Advisory Commission on Latino Affairs.

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We'll be celebrating a brand new batch of incredible entrepreneurs on December 13th. If you want to nominate an entrepreneur you know you can use this nomination form
We hope to see in December as we celebrate this year's nominees and all their accomplishments!


Friday, October 5, 2018

GlobalPittsburgh Announces Call for Nominations

GlobalPittsburgh has announced the call for nominations for the 3rd annual Immigrant Entrepreneur Celebration and Award Ceremony. The celebration will take place at the Rivers Club on Thursday, December 13 from 6:00 - 8:30 PM with a cocktail reception beginning at 5:00 PM. The event will honor immigrant entrepreneurs and professionals from around the globe that have made an impact on the greater Pittsburgh community.

Nominations will be accepted through October 31, 2018, for the following eight categories: Technological Innovation, Health & Wellness, Lifetime Achievement, Immigrant Champion, Social Entrepreneur, Rising Star, Immigrant Professional Excellence, and Entertainment Industry.

Nominations, including self-nominations, can be made here.

The Immigrant Entrepreneur Celebration was launched in 2016 to showcase the talent, tenacity and innovative thinking of the “newest newcomers” who have made Pittsburgh their home and helped to make it a world-class city. Eight foreign-born business owners, professionals, and immigrant champions received awards in 2016 and seven received awards in 2017, including Luis von Ahn of  Duolingo, Ellen Freeman of Porter Wright, Betty Cruz of Change Agency, Masa Uzicanin of Sevenzo, Anne Flynn Schlicht of Chatham's Women's Business Center, and other talented influencers.

Tickets for the 2018 Immigrant Entrepreneur Celebration and Award Ceremony will go on sale on November 1, 2018, and will be available at

Since 1959, GlobalPittsburgh (founded as the Pittsburgh Council for International Visitors) has cultivated a local network of resources and created valuable contacts for the region worldwide through its work with federally-funded international professional exchanges. GlobalPittsburgh has a network of over 500 members, volunteers, and citizen diplomats who ensure that visiting leaders’ and students’ feel welcome in the Greater Pittsburgh community. For more information about GlobalPittsburgh programs, please visit, call 412.392.4513, or send an email to

2018 Immigrant Entrepreneur and Immigrant Champion Awards