Moving NYC Forward

March: Support for New New Yorkers

As New York City faces an unprecedented and urgent migrant crisis, we are highlighting two Young Professionals who are fighting for the well-being of NYC’s migrant communities by advocating for policies that increase justice, equity, and empowerment.

Congratulations to Elizabeth Angeles-Barrientos, Vice President, Advocacy, United Way of New York City and Murad Awawdeh, Director, New York Immigration Coalition. Thank you for being instrumental in this important work. 


Elizabeth Angeles-Barrientos

Vice President, Advocacy
United Way of New York City
How did you get to where you are today?

Throughout my career in public service, all the roles I have held have been new roles within the organizations where I have worked. It has been critical to learn to navigate spaces that are new and unfamiliar. I enjoy developing relationships and learning from others – company peers, and external stakeholders alike – and bring a curious and collaborative approach to my work. I have become comfortable asking questions, and proposing solutions, even with limited information available, or with little to no precedent to draw from. Actively listening to understand, and sharpening my communication skills has been key in my ability to engage across government, philanthropy, corporate, nonprofit, and community audiences in my work.

What are you most proud of?

I am most proud of my ability to leverage resources and platforms to highlight and amplify the work of local leaders and community driven efforts that are instrumental in bringing about positive change. Part of this includes developing United Way of New York City’s first policy agenda and institutionalizing advocacy at our organization. This allows us to offer our support, brand, and resources to build public will around solutions and advance policy and systemic changes that create lasting impacts for New Yorkers.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to work in your field?

Social impact work requires being responsive to the evolving needs of our communities and empathetic leadership. You do not have to do things the way they have always been done. Stay curious and always keep learning. Listening to those most impacted by the work you are pursuing is critical. Cultivate your tribe wherever you go so that you have people you can lean on for support as challenges arise.

When did you realize that you are a New Yorker?

It’s just who I am; The longest I have spent away from New York City is 2 months for a summer internship in Shanghai.

Murad Awawdeh

Executive Director
New York Immigration Coalition
How did you get to where you are today?

I started organizing as a young person with UPROSE fighting for environmental and social justice. My foundational years at UPROSE cultivated me to be rooted in justice. I appreciate being trained and mentored to be an organizer of integrity rooted in community. My experience as a youth organizer helped me build my political knowledge, learn how to coalition build, and lead by example.

What are you most proud of?

I am most proud of helping build the power of immigrant communities across the state. Putting power into the hands of the most marginalized and vulnerable to see the change they want through organizing, advocacy, and policy making. Helping folks with the tool they need to create the change they want– that leads to material conditions changing in individual lives that then transform communities.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to work in your field?

Advice I would give to folks in general, regardless of what field they are in or want to go to is:

  • Life is a marathon not a sprint. Pace yourself in all things, give yourself time to be intentional in your work.
  • Practice self care and do the things you want to do. Listen to your body and take the breaks you need for you.
  • Be genuine. Follow your heart. Do what makes you happy.
  • When/If you become a manager, lead with compassion, care, and be accountable.
  • Listen more. Sometimes our brains are wired to have a response to everything, listen intently, hear what is being said and how it’s being delivered.
When did you realize that you are a New Yorker?

I always knew I was a New Yorker. From being an avid subway rider, to becoming a  pizza critic when visiting other states, to my willingness to fight for the Yankees and their honor(as kid…), not having visited tourist locations until adulthood, and to the way I say water. I love New York. There is no other place in the world like it. I love our street vendors, the vibrance of our communities, the hustle and bustle of everyday New Yorkers keeping this city running. I am New York and New York is me.

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