Finding citizenship and community in Philadelphia

Ammi Cabrera was on her own immigration journey, but her WeWork family made sure she never felt alone

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Before she became an American citizen, Ammi Cabrera says that occasionally people would react awkwardly when she mentioned she was an immigrant. “Not everyone gets it in the current climate,” says Cabrera, 26, who was born in Guatemala. “Being an immigrant doesn’t mean you are illegal, and it definitely isn’t a bad thing.”

Cabrera is happy to have found a workplace that does “get it,” she says.  

Cabrera was hired by WeWork shortly after she received her green card. “When our general manager interviewed me, he asked if I could speak to a time in my life [when] I was tenacious,” she says. “I told him, right now!” She also described her years-long journey through the immigration process, not to mention moving to Philadelphia on her own.

Now, after three and a half years with the company, Cabrera is a community lead and has worked alongside many members and employees who, like her, have immigrated to the United States.

WeWork member Mark Dopierala, cofounder of FA Digital, and his wife were going through their application process at the same time as Cabrera. She says the support from them and other colleagues was invaluable. Shortly after her citizenship came through this March, her American passport arrived in the mail at her building, WeWork 1900 Market St. As she opened the envelope, member Vincent Sawyer of Insight Legal Services was there to celebrate. “Vincent began snapping pictures; he was so happy for me!” she recalls.  

To Cabrera, being an immigrant is a balancing act that takes “sacrifice, hard work, stepping up to challenges and opportunities, and assimilating to a new place—all while staying rooted in who you are and where you come from.” She is happy to have shared her journey to citizenship with the members and colleagues at her workplace, noting that the whole team in Philly was as excited as she was when she got that piece of paper. “They threw me a big red, white, and blue ‘USA Party’ to celebrate,” she says.

And what was the first thing she did after the citizenship ceremony, once she was officially an American? “I went to a taco spot down the street, of course!”  

WeWork spoke to Cabrera on how it feels to be a new American, her favorite place, and who has influenced her most at WeWork:

On being a U.S. citizen: Cabrera says she doesn’t feel that different, because nothing in her day-to-day life has changed. But she notes that “the power of the American passport is what a lot of people don’t understand.” The best part for her? “I’m looking forward to waiting in the same immigration line [at the airport] as my partner.”

Ammi Cabrera at the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services in Philadelphia. Photogrpah courtesy of Ammi Cabrera

Core values: “I have the freedom to be my true, authentic self,” Cabrera says, explaining that she has never felt as free to be herself as she does at WeWork. “Success is being at a place in life where professionally, spiritually, personally, and mentally you can be who you are.”

Downtime pursuits: “I’m a real coffee lover, and I like to spend time hopping around coffee shops, trying different blends,” says Cabrera.  

Member who has had the biggest impact on her: “Kim Lincon from Lynx & Co.,” says Cabrera. Lincon founded and runs a boutique design studio in Philly, and Cabrera says she is a trailblazer in the local design community. “She is a true testament to the power of the WeWork community; she’s been able to grow her business since becoming a WeWork member at WeWork 1010 N Hancock St,” says Cabrera, who considers Lincon a close friend and mentor. “She even helped me and my partner find and move into our current apartment.”  

Favorite place in the world: Her maternal grandparents’ house in Guatemala City. “I’m always going to have two homes,” Cabrera says, noting that returning to her country keeps her rooted in her old life. Her maternal family is from one of the poorest neighborhoods in the city, and being there reminds her of the many opportunities she’s had. “I’d like to create opportunities for other people at home. Going back there reminds me of that, of what I’m on this earth for.”

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