In two short years, ACT has tripled the size of its staff! In 2015, ACT welcomed Karina Edouard and Ojiugo Uzoma to its growing team. Read more about their experiences here!
Building a Stronger ACT!
When ACT launched in 2013, there was only one person working in the office, Executive Director and Founder, Amaha Kassa. By the following year, ACT welcomed its first Community Organizer, Akinde Kodjo-Sanogo. Together, Amaha and Akinde helped expand ACT’s membership base--allowing ACT to connect more members of the African community to critical resources and services in New York City. With the momentum still moving at full speed, ACT has continued to flourish. This year, ACT extended a warm and African-style welcome to its two new staff members, Karina Edouard and Ojiugo Uzoma!
Karina comes to ACT as an AmeriCorps volunteer. A recent graduate from Manhattanville College, Karina received her B.A. in International Studies, French, and Economics. As the daughter of Haitian immigrants, Karina has always had a vested interest in improving the well-being of immigrant communities. During her year of service, Karina will work on communications outreach and capacity-building projects.
One area of special interest to Karina is working with ACT’s Community Interpreter Corps, an initiative that seeks to build African leadership in areas of interpretation and translation. “The strength and dedication I see in our Community Interpreter Corps members is a constant reminder of how beautifully connected ACT is with the African community,” she said. To date, French is not one of the official languages of New York City. As a result, many African immigrants struggle to receive the services they need in a language they can understand. In response, Karina went on to say, “The fight for language access will be a long journey, but it is one that has continued to make my time here at ACT all the more worthwhile.”
ACT has also welcomed Ojiugo Uzoma to its vibrant team! Ojiugo serves as ACT’s Program Manager. Ojiugo is a Nigerian immigrant and is passionate about developing political power among African immigrants. She graduated with a Bachelors in International and Area Studies with a focus on Africa from Washington University in St. Louis. At ACT, Ojiugo will be implementing systems that connect members of the African immigrant community to key services around New York City.
Ojiugo is a model example of what it means to hit the ground running. Since her first day on board, Ojiugo has worked tirelessly to improve the lives of African immigrants. “When I first left college I had distant dreams of working and organizing within the African community, so in a lot of ways the opportunity to work at ACT is like coming home,” she exclaimed. She went on to highlight many of the projects that ACT is engaged in and how they are centered on economic empowerment, especially when it comes to African women. For example, Ojiugo currently leads a project that seeks to understand the diverse needs of African hair braiders in New York City. This initiative will give African hair braiders an opportunity to have a strong political voice and engage civically within their community.
Karina and Ojiugo are just the start of an ever-expanding ACT! Their work will continue to build on and support the essential systems that African immigrants need to move their lives forward. ACT is a team of African immigrants fighting for justice, civil rights, and opportunity and the more ACT is able to grow, the closer we are to achieving that goal.