Editor’s note: This is the inaugural year for CultureMap’s Top Texans Under 30, a program that celebrates the twentysomething power players making a difference in their industries and communities across the Lone Star State — and, in some cases, the world. The full list is here. For now, read all about Mariame Aana.
The power of connection fuels Mariame Aana’s work, whether she’s serving as supervising attorney for the Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, mentoring others, or leading a team of volunteers. The 27-year-old Houstonian is the definition of an overachiever — she’s proficient in French, Spanish, and Arabic, and dabbles in Mandarin, plus she has a law degree and an MBA — but what makes her so special is she always finds ways to funnel that energy into helping others.
Through her volunteer work in the semester after passing her New York bar exam — while she was waiting to take her Texas bar exam — Aana found her passion for immigration law. She credits the experience with providing the foundational skills to begin her practice in the sector.
In her role at Catholic Charities, Aana oversees the St. Frances Cabrini Center for Immigrant Legal Assistance’s pro bono program, where she coordinates outreach efforts and pro bono work with other attorneys and legal caseworkers. The program provides assistance to legal permanent residents seeking citizenship, DACA applicants, unaccompanied refugee minors, and others in need of legal assistance.
She took a few minutes out of her busy work schedule to chat with us about the things that inspire her.
CultureMap: What inspires you to do what you do?
Mariame Aana: My inspiration, secret weapon, and top influence on my life trajectory is my mom! From preschool onward, I was involved in her community service projects. She instilled in me the value that in obtaining or attaining a safe, secure, and stable life for yourself, “you have the opportunity to make a change, to make a positive impact, to make it a better world for you and the rest of the world.”
CM: What’s one piece of advice you’d give to other Texans trying to make a difference?
MA: Understand and maximize the value you bring to the table, as well as where the need is in the marketplace — whether in the nonprofit world or elsewhere — in order to best position yourself to make an impact.
CM: Sum up Texas in three words:
MA: Storied, spirited, singular.
CM: What’s one thing that people might not know about you?
MA: One day, I hope to have my own bee farm! I’ve taken an introductory beekeeping class and purchased some starter materials. In the near future, I’d settle for one or two hives as soon as I find the time to care for them.
CM: Finish this sentence: “It’s a good day when … ”
MA: I’ve tackled the items on my to-do list that would otherwise keep me up at night if pushed to tomorrow. It’s a great day when I get a chance to take on challenges beyond deadline survival. It’s a perfect day when I have some downtime in between!
RSVP now for the CultureMap Social: Top Texans Under 30 Edition, October 6 at Tootsies, to celebrate Aana and her fellow Houston winners.