Mosaic's Women's Program Featured in STLMade

A Global Community

As the St. Louis region recruits top international talent to its companies, Susan Gobbo is building a support system for the families that follow.


Story By Allison Babka
Visuals By Spot MPGMichael Thomas

Susan Gobbo throws open the door, genuinely happy to see who’s on the other side. “Hi, how are you?” she enthuses, welcoming woman after woman into her Wildwood home with a warm hug. She earnestly asks about their volunteer work, their children’s big soccer games and their husbands’ promotions, catching up on life before it’s time to prepare the day’s meal, as many family members do.

They’re not related by blood, but Gobbo has created a family of sorts with more than 300 women in her International Spouses Meetup Group. Consisting of women who have moved to St. Louis from all around the globe, the group fosters bonds among those looking for friendship and guidance as they navigate their new lives.

At first glance, these women are in good company — between 2017 and 2018, data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that the St. Louis region’s foreign-born population grew by 4.1 percent, or by 5,640 people. Saint Louis University associate professor of sociology Ness Sandoval studies population changes and tells St. Louis Public Radio that St. Louis appears to be the third-fastest-growing major metropolitan area in the United States for foreign-born individuals. One reason for that is many St. Louis-based corporations and startups recruit specialized talent from around the world to complement their local workforces.

The influx of immigrant talent certainly makes St. Louis stronger. But building a life in another country is a unique experience and can be difficult, especially for spouses who are supporting their recruited partners. Often called “trailing spouses,” these people — typically women — frequently halt their own careers and endeavors to encourage their partners to take great opportunities and help other family members get settled.


Gobbo understands this from her own experience. Originally from Brazil, Gobbo was a physical therapist at the top of her field in one of South America’s best hospitals. But when her husband Mauricio was transferred to the United States for a career opportunity years ago, Gobbo was tied to his visa which restricted her from working here.

“I was very active, working in the hospital weekends, nights and during the day. And suddenly [after moving to St. Louis] I’m at home doing nothing. So it was a shock for me, like, ‘What am I going to do now?’” Gobbo explains. “Our profession is part of our identity. In Brazil I was ‘Dr. Susan,’ and suddenly here I am ‘Laura’s mom,’ ‘Mauricio’s wife,’ but how about me?”


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