Meet Claire Lunderman


Claire Lunderman, Employment Case Worker

A SUNY Fredonia ’15 graduate and social activist, Ms. Lunderman supports New American Integration’s efforts to give our clients meaningful employment opportunities.

What are your academic credentials?  What experiences have made you a good fit for this position?

[CL]: I am a SUNY Fredonia ’15 graduate, where I studied International Studies and Women & Gender Studies.  My last semester of college, I was very fortunate to spend four months in Vietnam in a social work program helping survivors [and the generations affected thereafter] of Agent Orange, as well as teaching ESL classes, working with children with developmental disabilities, and working at an orphanage.  After graduating, I worked in low-income housing in Syracuse and at Buffalo Womenservices with many different populations from many backgrounds.  Those experiences alone have really helped me work with clients and teach Job Club here at the Institute. 

Claire’s ESL class with students ranging from 13-35.

What would you say is the most rewarding thing about working at an organization like the Institute?

[CL]: In my past jobs, I would see my clients maybe once or twice, but my experience at the Institute is a different story entirely.  Here we work hand-in-hand with one another in our department to see our client’s progress everyday—checking in with them, preparing them for interviews, putting them on the path to self-sufficiency, etc.   It has been very rewarding that through our department, we are able to give them tools to become the persons that they want to be.

What is the first word that comes to mind when I say “International Institute of Buffalo”?

[CL]: Safety. 

What is one accomplishment that you are most proud of (at work or outside of work)?  Why?

[CL]: Living in Vietnam.  The first month I was there was such a big transition for me; I was very home-sick.  It wasn’t until I visited my cousin in Hanoi and I was able to see a familiar face from home that my perspective changed—I was living in a great country!  I let myself enjoy the experience, and because of it, I felt that I grew up a lot from this experience.  So, I am really proud of myself for not just going there but staying there. 

Since the Institute works with diverse people from all over the world, can you share with us your own heritage?

[CL]: My Mom’s side is from Québécois (Quebec), so French Canadian.  From what we know of my Dad’s side, we think they migrated from Spain to Ireland before coming to the U.S, making me Irish and Spanish.

Given the international nature of the Institute, have you traveled abroad?  Any places on your bucket list?

[CL]: In high school, my family did an exchange program with a family from Germany, so I had the great experience of living in Germany for a month.  Obviously, I studied in Vietnam, but also have been to Thailand as well.  Bucket list: most of South America, specifically Brazil and Colombia, and everywhere in the Middle East.

Claire in Berlin, Germany, circa 2010.

If you could sit down with any historical figure, who would you choose?

[CL]: Karl Marx—many of his ideas were so far ahead of his time, especially his views on the social construction of equality.  Equality is such a vital part of our work in finding meaningful employment opportunities for our refugee clients who want to be self-sufficient and contribute their share.  I think we would have a lot to talk about. 

Favorite international food?

[CL]: Cao lầu.  It’s a regional dish consisting of noodles, pork and arugula from Hội An in Vietnam.

Claire in Marble Mountains in Danang.

Favorite book?

[CL]: Roxane Gay’s Bad Feminist.

What can you tell me about your life away from the Institute?

[CL]: I not only enjoy hiking, singing, and camping, but also exploring the wonderful eats around Buffalo.  Activism is a huge part of my life as well, both at and outside of the Institute.

What three traits would you say define you?

[CL]: Outspoken, gentle and sarcastic.