Kaytia is a community organizer and Deputy Director of the I Stand with Immigrants Initiative and Partnerships at FWD.us, and daughter of immigrants from Eastern Europe and the Caribbean. On her mother’s side, Kaytia’s family escaped the Nazi occupation and came through Ellis Island. Her father’s ancestors immigrated from Barbados and can trace their roots back to the slave trade. Kaytia grew up in Boston, Massachusetts and lives in Denver, Colorado.
Kaytia’s family, and their stories of immigration to the U.S., are threaded with resilience and strength.
“My father’s side of the family is African-American. His family’s history is a forced immigration story, and they can link their family back to the slave trade in Barbados. On my mom’s side, my grandmother is Jewish and a survivor of the Holocaust.”
Kaytia’s grandmother was born in Hungary and fled when the Nazis invaded. Her grandmother sought refuge in a boarding house after a U.S. military raid and as it happened, the man who ran the boarding house was an art professor who taught Kaytia’s grandmother how to sculpt. It was a skill that proved extremely useful for her grandmother. When her grandmother arrived at Ellis island she was turned away due to capacity issues, she then went to wait for one year in Cuba where she sculpted to make a living. Eventually, when she did come to the U.S., she started a career as a facial prosthetics specialistic using her knowledge rooted in sculpting education. Kaytia’s own parents would meet decades later while attending college in New York.
“From an academic point, I was always into cultural competence, and seeing how that worked while I was living abroad,”Kaytia said as she reflects on what brought her to her role in advocacy work.