As the founder and CEO of New Women New Yorkers (NWNY), Arielle Kandel is making a big impact on the lives of many immigrant women — and helping bring her family history full circle.
The granddaughter of European immigrants, Kandel grew up in Paris hearing stories about her grandparents and relatives who forged new lives in new countries. “I was fascinated to hear about my relatives building lives in places where they didn’t know anyone,” she said. This fascination carried to her studies, where she specialized in refugee migration law.
Kandel then volunteered in India to work with Tibetan refugees. “I saw how resilient these people were, especially the women, who faced challenges as both immigrants and women, and who often carried more on their shoulders, like caring for children,” said Kandel. “Seeing their optimism in the face of such hardship affirmed my career path.” After living in Israel for several years, where she worked with African asylum seekers, Kandel and her Israeli husband, Yoav, moved to Manhattan, which Kandel had always dreamed of. “It’s the classic immigrant city,” she said.
In New York, Kandel began actualizing an idea to tangibly help young women immigrants. After six months of meetings, networking and team building, New Women New Yorkers was born, and quickly grew into a nonprofit organization with a board of ten members and a big cadre of volunteers. Some of NWNY’s initiatives include the LEAD professional development program, which offers workshops on technology, interviewing and English communication skills, resume writing, public speaking and more. NWNY also runs a blog, roundtable discussions and meet ups. Current primary sources of funding include crowd-funding, private donors and small foundation grants.
As with most nonprofits, fundraising remains an ongoing challenge, but Kandel’s on top of that, too. As a 2016 PresenTense NYC fellow, she is working on launching an agency where young immigrant women become licensed to lead tours around immigrant neighborhoods, creating employment opportunities and sustainable funding for NWNY.
“I wasn’t raised religious, but I think my work reflects Jewish values,” said Kandel. “We were all once strangers in a new land, and I try and help make that transition less frightening for others going through that now.”
Ghoulish: Kandel is a champion teller of scary stories around a campfire.