YPFP NY brings members together to listen to foreign policy experts and entrepreneurs but some of our member are also creating their own initiatives. Meet Arielle Kandel, founder of the new non-profit New Women New Yorkers (NWNY), an organization dedicated to female immigrants in New York City.
“It’s dedicated to serve New York City’s women immigrants and refugees and foster a wide range of initiatives to empower them,” Kandel says.
NWNY, launched just in January 2014, focuses on three key areas: self-expression, education, entrepreneurship. Self-expression means that NWNY intends to give a space to women immigrants express their voice.
“The first initiative is called the Hear Me project,” Kandel says. This project will be a social research study, a series of interviews with women immigrants coming from all sorts of religious, ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds. From this study NWNY will draft a policy report and will also publish excerpts of the interviews on the blog, as a way of giving voice to the individual womens’ experiences.
Kandel, herself originally from France, understands what it is like to be a recent transplant in New York. She moved to New York last September from Israel, where she had been working as a fellow at a think tank based in Jerusalem. Kandel had initially moved to Israel for a Master’s program in Middle East Studies but became interested in refugee issues.
Kandel spent time as a legal assistant for the African Refugee Development Center, based in Tel Aviv. The African Refugee Development Center was founded only two years before Kandel began working with them, in response to the growing number of African refugees in Israel. It was not Kandel’s first experience with refugee work. She had previously worked in India for a couple of months with young Tibetan refugees. Kandel was inspired by the positive outlook of the African Refugee Development Center. “This idea of looking at immigrants and refugees through a positive lens really guides my organization,” Kandel says.
When Kandel moved to New York the timing just felt right to start her own organization dedicated to empowering immigrants. “Why not now? Maybe it’s the right time to jump in,” Kandel says. “To add to that I broke my arm, which is something else completely, but I had a lot of time to be at home to think about things. That’s the period I really started to develop the idea.”
While developing NWNY, Kandel also reflected on the stories she had heard of her paternal grandparents’ time as Jewish immigrants to New York in the 1930s. “I remember all kinds of stories about how difficult it was in the beginning. They got a lot of help from all kind of community organizations when they first arrived here,” Kandel says. She wants to provide assistance herself, and focuses on female immigrants as those most in need.
The entrepreneurship segment of the NWNY will be put into place after the self-expression project begins. “The idea is to have a mini-MBA certificate for low-income women to teach basic economic knowledge and skills. They could also then develop a proposal for a small business,” Kandel says. This would then be followed up with a sort of business incubator “to pair the women with mentors in the field, advice on loan applications and the like,” Kandel says.
Interested in immigration issues yourself? Kandel is looking for volunteers for a variety of positions, as long they have a passion for the subject.” Right now she has five volunteers focusing on social research, social media, strategic planning and blog writing. She is particularly looking for volunteers with experience in fund-raising. Check out NWNY's website to learn more.
How did you found out about YPFP?
“By chance when I was looking online for foreign policy lectures to attend. It’s great, both because you have very interesting panel discussions and also to meet young people who are very interested in these issues.”
What was your favorite YPFP Event?
The recent event on Responsibility to Protect (R2P) was one of her favorite ones. “I’m very interested in the subject, it’s so current, and it’s related to refugee and migrant issues. The speaker was very charismatic as well.”
This interview has been edited and condensed. It is part of a series called “YPFP NY Profiled,” which is a series profiling YPFP NY members and staff. The series is intended to better introduce YPFP NY members to each other, as well as explore the many paths and positions one can take within foreign policy world. If you know of a member who would be a good candidate for a profile (self-suggestions are welcome too!) please email Eve Ahearn, associate director of communications, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not reflect the views of their employer or Young Professionals in Foreign Policy.