Helping Holocaust survivors and Nazi victims in the greater NYC area

Katia Vais Bienenfield '02

Katia Vais Bienenfield '02

Katia Vais Bienenfield '02 JD, Attorney/Program Officer

Major: History and French

Employer: Law Office of Katia Vais

Katia Vais Bienenfield draws on papers she wrote and readings she read in History classes at a small private foundation, where she launched and runs a grant-making program for Holocaust survivors and Nazi victims in the greater NYC area and globally.

She reviews grant requests, develops grant-making strategies, makes recommendations for funding, and issues the grants. At the other end of the process, she reviews and evaluation reports from grant recipients, to shape the program into the future. Katia says the History major, and Mount Holyoke in general, helped her writing and critical thinking skills immensely.

“The major provides a solid foundation of knowledge of the past which, even if you don’t specifically use in your career, is undeniably invaluable in life. I am lucky enough now to actually use my specific concentration of Nazi Germany in my everyday work; however, even before this job, I always found the major useful in a more general sense.”

Katia is in the second of the many careers most people experience. After graduating Katia worked in a small law firm, went to law school and spent five years doing immigration law – an exciting area to practice. Students interested in law should try to network with as many practicing attorneys as possible, sit in on hearings, and become familiar with the practice of law.

"The job market for lawyers is tough, and many lawyers are not happy with their careers. Her advice, “think about it seriously and really do the research before making the investment.”