Immigration: A Life’s Story and A Passion

by Rachel Siegel

The American story is one of immigration. Many of us can trace back which generation of our family emigrated to the United States and where they came from. For most of us, our story ends there.

For social entrepreneur Arielle Kandel, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, of New Women New Yorkers (NWNY), immigration not only tells the story of how she got here, it is her life’s passion. Arielle’s paternal grandparents were Jewish immigrants from Poland and Germany, who immigrated to New York in 1937. Her father later immigrated to France, where he met Arielle’s mother and where she was born and raised. Arielle, who now lives in New York City, dedicates her life to developing the “vast potential that every immigrant woman has to contribute to our city, regardless of her national origin, cultural background, or educational level.” Arielle founded New Women New Yorkers in 2014 as the first nonprofit organization in New York City dedicated to empowering immigrant women, through workforce development and networking programs, community building, and storytelling.

I had the privilege of sitting in on LEAD, NWNY’s flagship program. This free workshop series was held at the New York Public Library and embodied a diverse group of women who came together from different countries of origins and with different professional goals to create a close-knit group. This was the final workshop in the eight-part series and the women clearly had mixed feelings about the conclusion of this program. In order to send them off to achieve their potential, Arielle walked them through the process of setting a professional action plan, complete with SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound). Quite the super-achiever, Arielle told the group that to her, the ‘A’ doesn’t simply stand for Achievable, she likes to set Ambitious goals. She encouraged each of them to adopt a growth mindset (rather than a fixed mindset) so they are constantly learning and adapting and thinking of creative ways of reaching her goals.

The ripple effect of helping immigrant women became apparent to me as the session went on. One woman shared that she is hoping to pursue a career in journalism. Prior to the program, she did not feel confident about her English writing skills. Now she does, and doesn’t want to write about just anything. Her intended journalistic focus? Immigrants.

To learn more about Arielle and New Women New Yorkers, visit their website.

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