Notable Immigrants

Antique books and artifacts line desk

Read about the immigrant experiences of movers and shakers in business, science, technology, the arts and sports.


Isabel Allende

Isabel Allende's work has been referred to as magical realism and her writing often touches on themes of magic, spirituality and politics. She has had fifteen books, both fiction and nonfiction, published between 1982 and 2006. More than 30 million of Isabel Allende's books have sold worldwide during that time.


Sergey Brin

Sergey Brin has become one of the wealthiest men in the world and Google has grown to become the largest search engine on the World Wide Web. With its mission to "organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful," Google is at the forefront of revolutionizing the way that computers are used and will likely remain there for many years to come.


Elizabeth Furse

Elizabeth Furse is currently the Director of The Institute for Tribal Government, which she founded, in the Hatfield School of Government at Portland State University.


Andrew Grove

Andrew Grove joined Intel on the day of its incorporation as its third employee. Grove was Intel's president in 1979, its CEO in 1987, and its Chairman and CEO in 1997. He relinquished his CEO title in May 1998, but remained chairman of the board until November 2004. As CEO, he occupied a simple work cubicle at Intel, similar to those of his employees, which was a reflection of his open style of management, a style that fostered growth at Intel. He is considered the person most responsible for propelling the power of the microchip.


Salma Hayek

Salma Hayek moved to Hollywood in 1991, but it wasn’t until 1993 that she secured her first film role. Salma came to the attention of Mexican American film director Robert Rodriguez in 1995, and he gave her the female lead role in the film Desperado. In the years since, Salma has starred in many of Rodriguez’s films, including the sequel to Desperado, Once Upon a Time in Mexico.


Alex Kozinski

Alexander Kozinski was appointed by Ronald Reagan to his present position as a judge with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. He became chief judge, based on seniority, in December 2007, and is known as a conservative judge with libertarian leanings.


Tom Lantos

Tom lived in the San Francisco Bay Area with his wife from 1950 until his death on February 11, 2008. For thirty years, from 1950 to 1980, he taught economics at San Francisco State University. From 1981 to 2008, he served as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from California's 12th District.


Satya Nadella

Satya Nadella came from modest beginnings born in Telangana, India. After coming to America, he worked his way up through Microsoft to become the CEO of Microsoft in 2014.


John Muir

In 1868 upon arriving in San Francisco, John Muir asked a fellow on the street for the nearest way out of town that lead to any place that was wild. The man directed him to the Oakland Ferry, which he took across the San Francisco Bay. John Muir left Oakland, on foot, for the Yosemite Valley on April 1, 1868.


Elon Musk

South African entrepreneur Elon Musk is known for founding Tesla Motors and SpaceX, which are famous for the Tesla Roadster and sending supplies to the International Space Station, respectively.

Bennet Omalu

Born in Nnokwa, Nigeria, Bennet Omalu was the first to discover Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) in former football players, sparking a national discussion on the nature and lasting health impacts of football the adoption of safety precautions to reduce the risk of brain injury. Recently, and Omalu and his findings were portrayed by Will Smith in the movie Concussion.

Sundar Pichai

Coming from a middle class family in India, Sundar Pichai excelled in school and obtained a scholarship to Stanford University, ultimately letting him achieve his own version of the American Dream of becoming CEO of Google in 2015.

Carlos Santana

In 1961, Carlos moved to San Francisco to join his family who had earlier settled in the Mission District. He formed a band. After a few years, his band was signed to Columbia Records. Their first album debuted a few months after the band’s electrifying performance at Woodstock in 1969.


Arnold Schwarzenegger

Austrian born Arnold Schwarzenegger gained fame as a body builder, then receiving roles as an actor in Hollywood. He is well known for staring in The Terminator and The Expendables. He was the 38th Governor of California from 2003 to 2011.

Levi Strauss

On May 20, 1873, patent #139121 for copper riveted work pants was granted to Levi Strauss and Jacob Davis, and Levi's blue jeans were born. In 1890, with the introduction of the "XX" waist overall, also known as "Lot 501," the style of blue jean as we know it today was born.


David Wu

David Wu is the only Chinese American to have served in the U.S. House of Representatives, and is only the third Chinese American to have served in the U.S. Congress.

Last updated: February 15, 2018