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Claudette Ndayininahaze: Executive Director of In Her Presence

In Her Presence empowers immigrant women in Maine by providing them with critical language skills. The program teaches conversational English skills and provides women with career training and mentorship opportunities. As the Executive Director, Claudette works to implement all programming and expand the organization’s reach. With her help, immigrant women will become a pillar of Maine’s economic agenda.

Can you tell us about the importance of language independence?

Language independence is the foundation for any communication. If you don’t have language, it’s impossible to express and advocate for yourself. You can’t inspire your community without language. As women, it’s hard to build confidence if we don’t have the words to say what we mean. If we can’t communicate, then you don’t know who I am and I don’t know who you are. Language learning is quite inaccessible to women today, there needs to be a willingness to put resources behind these programs so that women can become fluent, resilient, and empowered.

How do your programs benefit immigrant women?

We see our work benefitting women in all levels of our classes. As women move from level to level, we are able to see their success and watch their language skills improve. We’ve been able to create a platform where women are open, confident, and self sufficient. With the language skills that our program provides, women are able to advocate for themselves and their families and become leaders in their communities. Our goal is to have our women speaking English fluently and conversationally, but we are also focused on allowing them to reach an independent community life. We are able to change the curriculum according to the needs of the women to help them articulate their career pathway goals and find jobs that sustain their lives.

Where do you hope to take In Her Presence in the future?

I see In Her Presence as bridging the gap between immigrants and businesses. I want to use the organization to connect these entities together so that they can sustain one another and promote equity. Ideally, I would love to partner with businesses so that our women can get sustainable jobs and they can get invaluable support. We are already working on placing our women within business hiring departments to help implement diversity, equity, and inclusion practices. Above all else, I want our women to have contextual English conversation skills and career fulfillment.

What is the best part of your job?

In Her Presence has been my passion and my dream project. Building connections, relationships, and trust within my community has been the foundation for getting In Her Presence to where it is today. All the work I do is to improve women’s fluency, to connect them to resources, to create their long term career goals, and to build their network and empowerment. I love that I am able to give immigrant women a voice and a chance to succeed.


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