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Julissa Arce

The Ascend Educational Fund (AEF)
Chairman, and Co-founder

Julissa Arce is an emerging and leading voice in the fight for immigrant rights and education equality.  She is the chairman, and co-founder of the Ascend Educational Fund (AEF). AEF is a college scholarship and mentorship program for immigrant students in New York City, regardless of their ethnicity, national original or immigration status.  She made national and international headlines when she revealed that she had achieved the American Dream of wealth and status at Goldman Sachs while undocumented.  Julissa will use her inspirational story to change the conversation around immigration in her forthcoming book, MY (UNDERGROUND) AMERICAN DREAM set for publication in English and Spanish in September 2016. The book explores the polarizing question: for an undocumented immigrant, what is the true cost of the American dream?


In the heady days of the most astronomical stock-market rise in Wall Street history, Julissa Arce climbed the corporate ladder—a rare Hispanic woman in a sea of suits and ties. In 2005, against all odds, she landed one of the most coveted jobs as an analyst at Goldman Sachs. Over the course of the next six years, even while the financial markets crashed, she continued to climb the corporate ladder—riding a series of promotions to become a Vice President, complete with a high six-figure salary and all of the perks that come with living the Goldman Sachs life. What none of her colleagues knew was that she wasn't just a young woman who broke through ceilings in a cutthroat male-dominated field: she was also an undocumented American from Mexico. 


MY (UNDERGROUND) AMERICAN DREAM will challenge our perceptions of what it means to be an undocumented immigrant. During a pivotal election cycle where immigrants seeking refuge are at America’s doorstep and on our minds, Arce’s personal story of sacrifice, pain and suffering seeks to add a new perspective that will echo the stories of millions living here without a voice.


Arce now uses her success and platform to help shift the conversation around immigration and other social justice issues.  Arce often gives talks at events such as Tedx and the Forbes Reinventing America Summit (alongside Nancy Pelosi, Jessica Alba, and Gayle King), and has appeared on CNN, MSNBC, NPR, Al Jazeera America, Telemundo, Bloomberg TV and Univision.  Her writing has been published on Huffington Post, Fusion, CNN en Español, The Hill, and Univision.  She serves on the board of directors of the National Immigration Law Center and CollegeSpring.  She was officially sworn in as an American citizen in August of 2014 and will vote in a presidential election for the first time in 2016.