New Integrated Community director brings professional, personal experience
September 5, 2008
It was an ideal union.
“When I decided to move to Colorado, I wanted to work with the immigrant community,” said Tatiana Achcar, Integrated Community’s new executive director.
Achcar, a Brazilian native with more than a decade’s worth of experience aiding the immigrant community, took over directorship of Integrated Community on Tuesday.
Taking leadership at the multicultural organization, also known in Spanish as Comunidad Integrada, was a logical step for Achcar.
“The opportunity I found to work with Comunidad Integrada in this area just reflects what I had in mind,” she said. “It was a very good marriage of what my priorities are.”
Achcar holds a bachelor’s degree in anthropology, in addition to a law degree she earned from the University of Minnesota.
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She speaks English, Spanish and Portuguese fluently. Her experience includes fundraising, strategic planning and programming experience in multiple organizations.
Achcar declined to comment on whether she is a U.S. citizen, but added that she has legal authorization to live and work in America.
“Part of my job : is to educate folks on the real issues,” she said. “Somebody’s citizenship shouldn’t be the issue.”
Achcar came to Craig after founding and owning Achcar Law, an immigration law firm in Minnesota, where she worked as a solo practitioner.
Her decision to focus on immigration issues stemmed both from her locale and her experiences.
The need for immigration legal services is “huge” in Minnesota, Achcar said, adding that the local Latino population is nearing or may have already reached 200,000 people.
Other nationalities and ethnicities, including those from Somalia, Southeast Asia, Eastern Europe, Cambodia and Laos, have grown in Minnesota through the 1990s, she said.
Achcar knows the concerns faced by new arrivals to America.
She’s faced them herself. Achcar, who lived in Minnesota for 18 years, was raised in Brazil and Venezuela.
Her experience passing through the immigration system implanted a fascination for the process and its effects on society.
“Towards the end of my (undergraduate) degree, I grew very interested in the phenomenon of immigration as a whole,” Achcar said.
Eventually, she began to see how that phenomenon bears relation to human rights.
At Integrated Community, Achcar plans to help further ongoing projects, including English as a Second Language classes in Craig. The program, which is new to the community, addresses what Achcar identified as the largest challenge facing immigrant communities in America: the language barrier.
“That was the issue in Minnesota,” she said, “and that seems to be the issue here.”
But, Integrated Community’s new executive director doesn’t intend to start any new projects of her own.
At least, not yet.
“As far as new things, that’s for the future,” Achcar said. “That’s not for somebody who just arrived in town.”
Instead, she intends to make meeting community members a priority and learn the terrain of her new calling.
It’s a task she’s prepared to meet gladly.
“I can’t describe the level of joy and excitement of being here in (the) Steamboat (and) Craig area,” she said. “It was a very deliberate move.”