Center for the Integration & Advancement of New Americans

Staff & Volunteers
Emira Habiby Browne
Founder & CEO

Emira has over 25 years of experience in social services, with expertise in family and children services, immigrant integration, and cultural competency. In 1993, Emira founded the first Arabic-speaking social services organization in New York City to address the needs of the Arabic-speaking immigrant community. Building on her extensive experience serving a highly traditional immigrant community, Emira founded the Center for the Integration and Advancement of New Americans, CIANA, in 2006. A wider and more inclusive organization, CIANA serves new immigrants from the highly traditional societies of the greater Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia. 

Emira has served on several advisory boards and task forces on immigrant issues, including Mayor Guiliani’s Task Force on NYC Police/Community Relations, the Mayor’s Immigration Coalition, NYC Comptroller Alan Hevesi’s Immigration Advisory Council, Brooklyn Borough President Howard Golden’s Ethnic Affairs Council, and the Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) Immigrant Advisory Committee. Emira was also a former Board Member of the New York Immigration Coalition, and the Greater Southern Brooklyn Health Coalition.

In recognition of her contributions to the immigrant community and her commitment to the service of others, Emira has been the recipient of numerous honors and awards.  In 1997, she received the Women’s History Month Award by the Brooklyn District Attorney, and the Woman of Achievement Pacesetter Award by the NYC Council. In 1998, Emira received the Outstanding Achievement Award by the Brooklyn Borough President.  In 2000, and again in 2004, Emira received the Outstanding Citizen Award by the NYC Council.  In 2001, she received the prestigious Union Square Award by the Fund for the City of New York, and in 2002, she was the recipient of the Vision in America Award by the Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats, the Dedication to the Empowerment of Families Award by the Riverside Church, and the Distinguished Service Award from the International Channel Networks.  In 2003, Emira received a Lifetime Achievement Award by her alma mater, Emma Willard School.

In 2007, and again in 2009, Emira was chosen as a Purpose Prize Fellow by Civic Ventures for founding two successful immigrant organizations late in her professional career.

In 2004, 2006, and 2011, Emira was selected by the USDOS Bureau of International Information Programs to present her immigrant integration model, and her work with very traditional immigrant communities, to government interlocutors and community leaders in several cities in Spain, Italy, Poland, and Germany. In September and October 2011, Emira was invited to travel to 8 German cities to speak about immigrant integration post 9/11, and how to manage ethnic diversity and multiculturalism ten years after.

Emira holds a Master of Arts Degree in Sociology from the American University of Beirut, Lebanon. She has pursued Doctoral studies at the London School of Economics/University of London, and at the Hunter College School of Social Work/CUNY.  Emira is a Palestinian-American who was born and raised in the Middle East, speaks Arabic fluently, has traveled extensively, and lived in several countries in Europe and the Middle East.

Shalma Akhter, B.S.
Program Manager

Shalma has served as a Case Manager and Outreach Coordinator in CIANA's Child Welfare Preventive Services, Healthy Families, and Services for Immigrant Families programs.  Currently, Shalma serves as CIANA’s Program Manager.

Shalma worked as an Associate Program Developer at Information Management Network and has strong computer proficiency in Microsoft Office programs, Dream Weaver, Secure Shell FTP, and Photoshop. In addition, she worked as Coordinator of Social Services at the Bangladesh American Association for Rehabilitation in New York (BAARNY), has strong familiarity with the issues and challenges of South Asian culture, and is committed to empowering her community.

Shalma holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science from Herbert H. Lehman College. She is fluent in Bengali and proficient in Urdu and Hindi.


Elementary School Tutors

Maria Quinonez

Martin Bassis

Sarah Nichols

Joyati Akter

Diego P. Tito

Diana  Fataliga

Alejandro Poveda

Legal Program

Prabhdeep Kaur

Tequan Jones

Kemi Akindude

Jinyoung Chang

Rupinder Kaur

ESL Adult Tutors

Rui Wang

Tsveta Dobreva

Sakila Nazumudeen

Philip Gussmann

Gabriella Huddart


Belina Vargas

Belinda Roman

Maria Quinonez

Susan Gamble

Nune Dzhunelova Parker