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.


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