Mission & Vision


Our mission: To prevent the growing marginalization of new immigrants and refugees from highly traditional societies through special transitional services, leading to their successful integration into the socio-economic and civic life of America while continuing to maintain pride in their cultural heritage.



Our vision:  We have designed an integration model that is holistic and aims to guide new immigrants towards social and economic self-sufficiency.  It seeks to identify newcomers soon after they arrive in the country, introduce them to American systems and laws, and offer them a path towards citizenship and advancement.  

Our approach:  CIANA helps families and youth incorporate the best of both worlds while still maintaining cultural ties and pride in their heritage. Through extensive community outreach and education, we address the culture and language barriers that keep them from successfully integrating into American society and participating in the civic life of their communities.  Our approach encourages immigrants to adopt essential cultural aspects of American society, and for the host community to accept and value the newcomers and their cultural heritage.


In order for CIANA to better serve our community, our staff, volunteers, and interns speak over 20 languages.




“Before I came to CIANA, I was having a bit of a difficulty at school with some classes. I just needed an extra boost of confidence and CIANA gave me that exactly. As soon as I met them I knew I was going to be comfortable. Now my grades are better than ever and I feel more motivated.”

—  Albert Molina, Middle School Program


CIANA in the News

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Intern and Volunteer Testimonials

"At CIANA, it seems like you really value integration but I also see that it’s a strength that all the clients have different cultural backgrounds. CIANA isn’t asking them to forget their home country or their language. It’s really celebrated."


-Nima, Casework Intern

"I enjoy the fact that you can see people asking questions and trying to pick up new language skills, and you see them conversing with one another and helping each other out. I think CIANA provides a nice setting for them to try and improve their skills and transition."


-Nikhil, ESL Instructor

"I really like that CIANA is small and feels very much like a family. It’s cool to see how many interns and volunteers are here. In that aspect, you know everyone you’re working with has the same passion and mindset toward the overall goal to help immigrants."


-Miles, Grants Intern



CIANA was founded in 2006 by Emira Habiby Browne as a model of immigrant integration that begins immediately upon entry into the country.

In its first years, CIANA formed strong public and private sector partnerships, and grew its holistic family services to meet the growing needs of an increasingly marginalized Arab and South Asian families and youth faced with a post 9/11 anti-immigrant environment. 

CIANA is intended to act as an agent of social change, and has been recognized locally and internationally for its reach into marginalized immigrant communities. It aspires to become a model of immigrant integration services that can be replicated nationally and globally. 

2006 – 2008

CIANA is founded, obtains seed funding and moves to Astoria. Opens its Newtown Avenue site in June 2008.

2008 – 2009 

CIANA expands its programs with increased funding from NYC government agencies.

2010 – 2012

CIANA expands its programs with increased funding from NYC government agencies.

2013 – 2015

CIANA adds a  young immigrant legal services program (DACA), and grows its volunteer-staffed elementary after school tutoring/homework help program.


CIANA launches new programs including a Middle School After school Program (SONYC), a new legal immigration program to meet current immigration needs, and a Mommy & Me parenting program.

2017 – 2018

CIANA expands its immigration legal services and youth education programs, enhances its social media presence, and accelerates shift to a private funding model due to the increasing demand for services and limited  governmental support.


CIANA increases its staff numbers, receives awards from the competitive Communities of Color Stabilization Fund (CCNSF) and Complete Count Fund, and establishes a new civics-focused ESOL curriculum, continuing to help new immigrants take their first steps to integration.


CIANA brings New York City closer to a complete count in the 2020 Census. Thanks to grants awarded from the NYC Test & Trace Corps and NYC Care, CIANA nearly triples its staff and launches efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and enroll New Yorkers in free and low-cost healthcare-- all while moving our usual programs and services to an online setting.


CIANA continues preventing the spread of COVID-19 and enrolling eligible New Yorkers in healthcare, in addition to educating the public about COVID vaccines. All of CIANA's legal and case management services and educational programs take place virtually with record-high engagement.


Board of Directors

Emily Levitt

Board Chair

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Austin Moukattaf

Board Treasurer

Derek Sam

Board Secretary

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Joe DeMaria

Board Member

Ariela Steinberg

Board Member

Emira Habiby Browne

Founder & CEO

Emira Habiby Browne 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.

In 2006, Emira founded CIANA as a wider and more inclusive organization that serves new immigrants from the greater Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia. 

Emira has served on several advisory boards and task forces on immigrant issues, and has been the recipient of numerous honors and awards in recognition of her contributions to the immigrant community and the service of others.

In 2004, 2006, and 2011, Emira was selected by the USDOS Bureau of International Information Programs to present her immigrant integration model to government interlocutors and community leaders in several cities in Spain, Italy, Poland, and Germany.  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.



Srividya Maganti


Communications & Outreach

Brianna McClure

NYC Civic Corps

Volunteer Coordinator

Data &



Jessica Mendieta

Data Analyst

Meet the Team


Legal Services

Dinneen Cato

Director of Legal Services



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Jose Velasco

SONYC Middle School

Program Coordinator

Case Management

& Outreach


Micah Dicker

Outreach Worker & Case Manager

Humayra Hayder

Outreach Worker & Case Manager

Mohamed Alharbi

Outreach Worker &

Case Manager


31-09 Newtown Avenue, Suite 411

Astoria, NY 11102

(718) 545-4040  info@cianainc.org

Mon - Fri 10am - 6pm


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