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

Intern and Volunteer Testimonies


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.

Alissa, Intern

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.  


I live in the community! I live about half a mile away, what really attracted me to CIANA, as an immigrant myself, trying to make a difference in the kids lives and I think about how much more awesome my life would've been if I had an organization like CIANA to help me when I was a child. Volunteering helps you get away from your normal humdrum life.



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 the competitive Communities of Color Stabilization Fund (CCNSF), and establishes a new civics-focused ESOL curriculum, continuing to help new immigrants take their first steps to integration.


Board of Directors

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Charles "CJ" Martino

Board Treasurer

Board Chair

Emily Levitt

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Mark Clemen

Board Member

Austin Moukattaf

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.

Our Team

Dinneen Cato


Director of

Legal Services

Kimberly Iboy

Case Manager

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Jose Velasco

Micah Torres Dicker


SONYC Middle School

After School Program

Carmen Guerra Yonks

Data Analyst Consultant


31-09 Newtown Avenue, Suite 411

Astoria, NY 11102

(718) 545-4040

Mon-Fri 10am-6pm

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 We can’t do this without you!