• UpBoost invests in people. We specialize in translating unrealized individual, group and community potential into constructive choices for action. We provide education and training for transformational leadership and entrepreneurship development and offer practical, common sense solutions for rural revitalization and development.


    Upboost is a private, for-profit, non-partisan, non-denominational enterprise for public gain. We are headquartered in the Washington D.C. area and provide services in Eastern and MidAtlantic U.S.A. and throughout West Africa.


    Upboost was founded by Astrid Ruiz Thierry, a seasoned professional with over 30 years of experience in Europe, Africa and the United States as an entrepreneur, in international development and as an inspirational speaker and leadership trainer.

  • Letter from the CEO

    Astrid Ruiz Thierry

  • UpBoost was born from my more than 25 years of experience in human capital development and inclusive economic development in Europe and West Africa. I have always believed in human potential, no matter what the odds.

    I have witnessed its transformational power in some of the most disadvantaged areas of Africa, Latin America, and Asia. Those who suffer poverty, marginalization or discrimination often lose sight of the power of their potential, while those in the “main stream” too often forget that people’s innovative daring and economic potential is not predefined. Both often forget that the causes of economic differences are not genetically or geographically determined. They are a result of the assumptions, definitions, and reasoning about each other, about leadership and about the relationship between wealth, poverty and politics.

    I grew up in the Midwest. The most vivid memory of my childhood is discovering that rising to challenge is what makes you; not doing so, sooner or later breaks you. No matter how “rigged” a system may be perceived to be, facing challenges with a can-do attitude and a spirit of optimism is what transforms the challenge into an opportunity to become the best one can be. I have had the chance to see how ordinary people in other parts of the world dream and hope, laugh and cry, invent and dare to explore avenues of innovation and take on risks against what seem insurmountable odds. I have learned that neither poverty nor wealth, nor success or failure, is baked into the cake.

    After 30 years of being abroad, I am shocked and troubled by how dispassionate our leadership in the educational system is and how it actively, even if unwittingly, suppresses individual talents and potentialities. Education is the basic building block for our nation’s human capital. It should power, not incapacitate, our country’s development and growth. I am equally dismayed with the level, extent, and pervasiveness of underfunding, marginalization and exclusion of rural America. Rural America is the backbone of our country. It is the heart and soul of our nation. And it is also the source of America’s greatest future human potentials. The secret to unearthing a nation’s potentialities comes down to encouraging a groundswell of enthusiastic entrepreneurs to ignite a revolution of new, big and bold ideas that will change the narrative about what development is for.

    Every woman and man is a potential entrepreneur and capital owner. Unlocking that potential requires raising our expectations about our individual potentialities and that of others. Unleashing them requires the willingness to make full use of our talents by risking disappointment and seeing past policy failures as a stepping stone to understanding how to build a successful future that is bigger than our past. Achieving success, at both the individual, community and organizational levels, requires accepting that “we become who we are in conjunction with other people becoming who they are” (David Brooks, The Social Animal).


    I believe we can all reach for greatness by realizing our unique potential. Now that I am back in America for good, I have decided to put my knowledge, skills and expertise to work for others. I have a triple goal: to translate the growth potential of our adolescents and young adults into a force for better change, to catalyze the hidden potential of women into a force for more effective change, and to power the potential of the underserved into enabling choices for action through entrepreneurship as a tool for personal and professional development and social mobility.

    I am willing to confront counterevidence and to discover the vast spaces beyond our high schools’ mental straightjacket, beyond the political and cultural priorities that keep women back, and beyond what’s mistakenly thought about rural America as the lost heartland. How willing are you to step out of your comfort zone to help those who no longer see, trust or have lost the American dream reclaim it in a more equitable, inclusive and sustainable direction?

    Astrid Ruiz Thierry
    Principal, UpBoost LLC

    All Posts