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.

Marianne Scharf, B.S.
Immigration Services Coordinator

Marianne Scharf serves as the Project Coordinator of CIANA’s Young Immigrant Legal Services Program. As program coordinator, she is responsible for case management, reporting, and outreach activities to engage clients and partners. Marianne has worked on immigrant and refugee issues since 2005, beginning her career with the US Refugee Resettlement Program, in Columbus, Ohio. Other experience includes working as coordinator for London Refugee Voice, an advocacy network of over 80 community based organizations in the UK; IREX, as a program manager in Northern Iraq, and as a program manager at The Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights. She is a member of the United Nation’s NGO Committee on the Status of Women. Marianne studied Economics at the Ohio State University and Arabic at The University of Damascus. She holds a post graduate certificate in Holistic Approaches to Refugee Care, and an MSc in International Development. Marianne has worked and travelled widely in Europe, the Middle East, and South America.

Shoshanna Malett, Esq.
Supervising Attorney

Shoshanna M. Malett serves as the Supervising Attorney for CIANA’s Young Immigrant Legal Services Program. With more than 25 years of experience in immigration law, she is a published author of immigration topics, whose works have been cited for scholarly publications. Shoshanna is also a lecturer and trainer for non-profit and community outreach programs that provide free counseling in all areas of immigration.

Prior to joining the CIANA staff, Shoshanna made numerous contributions towards the advancement of immigrants and promoting human rights and humanitarian law. She worked as an immigration attorney with the US Committee for the United Nations Environment Program, and as an asylum officer at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. She received recognition as an outstanding officer from 2000-2005.   

Shoshanna received a Juris Doctorate from the CUNY School of Law, where she received the Root-Tilden-Snow Award in 1988.  Shoshanna received an LLM degree in International Human Rights and Environmental Law from the Washington College of Law at American University.  While at the Washington College of Law, Shoshanna cofounded the Center for International Human Rights and Humanitarian Law. Shoshanna received a BA in Psychology from the CUNY/ Queens College.  

Therese McNulty
Project Attorney

Therese McNulty, Esq. serves as CIANA’s Staff Attorney working on the Young Immigrant Legal Services Program. Therese has a passion for working with young immigrants. She has worked with students at Kingsborough Community College advising them on immigration matters including Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals(DACA), citizenship, change of status, and family petitions. Therese also conducts weekend legal screening at citywide citizenship application events and provides trainings on DACA at the New York Immigration Coalition. Other experience includes family law and immigration hearings and VAWA and U-visa applications for victims of domestic violence. Prior to law school, Therese worked on a range of social issues including child welfare, education, human rights, and health care. Therese is a member of the New York City Bar Association’s Moderate Means Committee, which sponsors free monthly legal consultations. She obtained her J.D. from CUNY Law in January 2010 and her B.A. from Fordham University in 1999 and is admitted to practice law in New York State and the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York.


Emily Levitt

Jessica Brown

Ayuna Vogel

Jennifer Grant

George Tsinias

Marco Garcia

Julie Silvia

Gregory Smith

Indu Toor

Lindsey Carlin

Stanley J. Steele (Volunteer Attorney)

Suzanne Walsh (Volunteer Attorney)

CIANA’s interns and volunteers are vital to ensuring the success of our programs and operations. We are proud of the many interns that have contributed to CIANA’s achievements over the years, and are always looking for highly motivated people to support our mission and work.

We strongly believe that our strength lies in the diversity of cultural backgrounds and experience.  Our internships and volunteer positions provide a challenging and substantive work experience on a wide range of projects and programs, expanding an understanding of the needs of New York City’s ever-growing immigrant population. 

To apply for an internship at CIANA, email your résumé and a cover letter to, expressing your specific areas of interest and what you would like to gain from your internship or volunteer experience at CIANA.

In their own words, our interns and volunteers expressed the value of their experience at CIANA:

Working at CIANA teaches you about the realities immigrants face in the U.S. Immigrants in New York City face so many challenges in multiple aspects of daily life — so whether you’re studying or hoping to gain more experience in education, psychology, or law, interning at CIANA is a great experience on a personal and professional level. Because you’re not working at a large organization, you are closely supervised and are given a lot of responsibility if you want to learn a lot and be challenged. CIANA is also a great place to work even if you are not particularly interested in immigration issues because the people you work with are dynamic, dedicated, and a lot of fun to be around.
- Alissa Marque

Interning at CIANA was an extremely fulfilling experience. Because the organization is so close knit, I was able to obtain a large scope of experiences from teaching an ESOL class to escorting clients to writing for a grant proposal. The staff and environment at CIANA is very conducive to learning, and overall it was great working there.
- Saheli Kothari

My experience with CIANA was extraordinary. My days at CIANA have changed the way I look at my own life; the warmth and kindness of the entire staff made my internship a true learning experience. It was at this organization that I truly understood the meaning of caring. Witnessing the effort, time and energy that the CIANA staff put into their work greatly motivated me to do anything I desired to, and for that I really thank CIANA.
- Roya Heydari

Spending a year interning with CIANA allowed me to gain a tremendous amount of experience in the non-profit sector. CIANA has a lot of faith in their interns and this allowed me to bring many ideas to the table and also the opportunity to learn many new tasks. I feel my time with CIANA will be extremely valuable in my future career goals.
- Nausheen Ansari

Interning at CIANA has been the most pivotal experience of my life. Working with the staff and clients from all over the world while living in New York City has enabled me to grow as a person, establish roots, and gain experience in the professional sphere. What I’ve learned I will take with me and refer to as I work towards developing my own career. I greatly value the knowledge I’ve gained at CIANA.
- Kacie Scaccia

Interning with CIANA has given me more than I could have hoped for. The friendly and dynamic atmosphere of the office can’t be matched. Whether teaching or interpreting, my direct experience with clients has been eye-opening and memorable. The broad range of responsibility I was given has built my confidence and has encouraged me to think creatively. The relationships I’ve built with both CIANA staff and clients have taught me valuable lessons that I will carry with me as I continue to discern my career path.
- Sarah Smith