Meet Our Civic Pathways Leaders: Anastassia, Veronica, and Basra

Meet Anastassia! 

Anastassia Hardy came to the United States from Estonia at age 22 as part of a work-study program. Looking to find better opportunities for herself, Anastassia initially found it challenging to find her purpose and feel like she was fitting in in her new home. 

“It took me quite a long time, because I took a trajectory that was a more difficult path for an immigrant. You were supposed to go to college, get a diploma and then maybe get into business or something that makes money to pursue your American dream…” which was initially what she wanted to do. “I was still struggling very much to find my own identity in this country because I moved here when I was 22 and the accent was a thing. I was integrating and had American friends, but I was different, not in a bad way, but I was just different,” Anastassia reflected about arriving in the US. 

Anastassia took on every opportunity possible to work with diverse leaders and expand her own skills, discovering her passion for helping others along the way. On the path to receiving a Bachelor’s in Human Services, she also served as a refugee resettlement intern with the IRC, realizing she was an “asset for this country because [she is] not from here.”  Anastassia began working for New American Pathways (RFS at the time) shortly after, partnering with school systems, domestic violence advocates, early learning and economic empowerment programs, and the metro-Atlanta community to serve refugees and immigrants for over 12 years. 

Anastassia built up the Family and Women’s Empowerment programs at New American Pathways, leading her team to transform the lives of countless new American families. Her impact inspired her to continue her education and also to join the Civic Pathways Leadership program, furthering her own civic leadership development. The legacy she has left at New American Pathways continues as she recently moved to Ohio to serve her Russian community there through geriatric care. 

Her biggest takeaway from this program and New American Pathways is that everyone processes information and leadership differently. All the tools and skills she has learned she will continue to carry with her in every new role she obtains, in her work and personal life. “New American Pathways is an excellent training ground which supports personal growth,” she shared. 

As she embarks on her new journey, as sad as she is to leave her friends and coworkers, she knows New American Pathways has set her up for success in any job she acquires.

Say hello to Veronica! 

Veronica Thang, originally from Burma, moved to the United States in November of 2010. Living in Malaysia for over a year during the refugee application process, she says they were very lucky and blessed with an amazing case manager and soon found themselves in Georgia.

Coming to the US, “the language barrier was the most difficult change, as well as getting a job and raising my kids.” Veronica shares that she “learned English from TV and YouTube, because at first I had to stay home with the kids, and that really helped. Day by day, we learn so much about American culture, but we were very lucky with our case manager and how things turned out.”

Veronica has always had to stand up for her community. Working for a nonprofit, “people rely heavily on [her] and it can be stressful to lead and direct others. The Civic Pathways Leadership program has helped [her] with that, and most of everyday life.” She first became interested in the Civic Pathways program because she wanted to continue supporting and uplifting the Burmese community in metro-Atlanta. Veronica uses her collaborative leadership style to better communicate with others through her work and personal life. “Working with everyone and doing things together whenever we can” is how she bonds with others through work and community to pass on her leadership skills to others.

Her passion for starting her own nonprofit by helping the Burmese community is a dream she feels can truly happen because of her experience with New American Pathways. “My dream is to have my own organization and to give the Burmese community knowledge, education, and motivation to learn English, go to work, and get a driver’s license. She said, “I want to help my community get started in any way I can.” 

Looking back on her journey through New American Pathways and the Civic Leadership Program, Veronica explains how much this organization has inspired her and changed her life. “This is the beginning of my dream come true. I am going to complete this training and because I have so much advice and ideas I know that my dream will be able to come true. I am so thankful for New American Pathways and how they have been so helpful for my life.”

Meet Basra! 

Basra Isaac, from Somalia, has felt her life has changed since her involvement with New American Pathways began in 2014. When a friend recommended her for a job with New American Pathways’ Civic Engagement Department, she knew she automatically wanted to take it. Basra said, “I’ve always been interested in learning more about the people around me and in the refugee community.”

“From this program I’ve learned a lot and I know I will take much away with me like how to be a better person, communicator, team player, and how to navigate different opportunities. I’ve been able to meet amazing people from all different backgrounds and I just want to be a better leader at the end of this program. Every single time we meet I learn something new which is very amazing for me.”

Basra is a passionate advocate for immigration reform and wants to see a helpline for immigration status questions established in the future. “It takes different periods of time and different translated documents for everyone,” she shares that she wishes there was a more clear and streamlined process for new Americans to have their questions answered.

She continues to take on opportunities to meet new people and expand her skills. Basra especially appreciates the chance to meet diverse people, local governments, and state representatives to expand access for immigrants and refugees to connect with their lawmakers and have their voices heard. She feels it is so important for immigrants to take that step forward, learn about others, ask questions and “believe you can move forward.”