Meet Kalkidan, an educator, role-model for children, and influential leader. She currently serves with New American Pathways as a family support liaison and lead teacher in the afterschool program. She has various degrees from reputable universities, including Harvard, which have contributed to her efficiency in educating the masses and policy recommendations.
She notes the recognition and publication by multiple organizations of her thesis and dissertation in both her undergraduate and graduate degree as one of her biggest accomplishments, especially because one of them addressed an issue concerning her homeland, Ethiopia. This is where her initial interest in education and children began, where she worked with Save the Children International.
Kalkidan began her career with New AP solely because of her drive to volunteer and serve others. However, after interacting with people within the community, seeing the diversity that New AP offered, and observing other leaders within the organization, she decided that it was time to make a career change.
While talking about why she chose this position she stated that:
“This is where you empower the kids…..we’re serving refugee and immigrant families who are coming from other countries for different reasons and there are a lot of cultural, economic, and social issues that are absolutely new to these kids; so just giving them hope and knowledge to brighten their future is one of the big things that we do in the afterschool program.”
With a statement like that it is easy to understand why kindness is her secret ingredient in everything she does. Her optimism and drive to spread hope, happiness, and joy reflects the kind of leader she is, which she notes stems from her family and upbringing. “I really want to leave the world in the best version of itself.”
Ultimately, she would like to move into some program management serving refugee and immigrant communities.
Meet Ikhlas, her attraction to New AP originated from her own experience as an immigrant transitioning into the United States. The naturalization process was difficult for her because of the lack of support from the system as it pertained to her immigrant/refugee status. Luckily, New American Pathways was able to be that helping hand that got her to the finish line. Attracted to the efficiency in New AP’s work and mission, she decided to become a volunteer with the organization and worked her way up to the role of Women’s Empowerment Coordinator.
Ikhlas is an optimist, a risk taker, and most importantly, an advocate for vulnerable women who genuinely believes that women are powerful and can create significant change in their communities and the world. She has an extensive background with non-profits, local and international organizations. Some of which include the United Nations and African Union Mission, Asmaa Center for Development, and Global Goodwill Ambassadors. In addition, she is the founder of two organizations dedicated to building up women who feel hopeless.
Ikhlas’s inspiration for her work is her mother, who since she was a child has always pushed her to become an educated woman, have dreams, and aspirations. When reflecting on her career she said, “There are so many soft leadership skills that I did not learn from the school. I learned from my mum. She taught me how to be determined and not give up on my dreams, myself, or those that I love. She taught me to be patient, to be tough, but at the same time be kind to myself. She taught me to leave for a reason.”
Throughout her work and years of service, you can see that Ikhlas assumed the same positive and motivating force for others that her mother served for her by teaching life lessons that cannot be taught in school but are lifelong characteristics to have. She even acknowledges that convincing women that they deserve more, to never settle for less, to take control of their own lives, and to push the toxic norms they have been socialized to believe in is the most difficult part of her work. She, as a leader, strives to be their hope and continues to use her conflict resolution skills to be their light in the darkness.
New American Pathways is proud and happy to have them both on our team!