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Staff & Board

Staff


  • JMALELDINN ADAME
    JMALELDINN ADAME Program Manager: Economic Empowerment

    Jmal speaks three languages and was a high school math teacher – but his smile might be what he’s best known for. Originally from Darfur, Jmal was an employment caseworker at REC for 3 years before his current position as Manager of Programs. He really enjoys giving refugees hope for their future as he helps them become productive members of their new community in Omaha. 

  • Wazhma Ahmadzai
    Wazhma Ahmadzai R&P Caseworker
  • Fartun Awale
    Fartun Awale Employment Caseworker
    Fartun speaks three languages: English, Somali, and Swahili. In her as an employment caseworker, Fartun helps refugees under 5 years in the United States find employment including applying for jobs and helping with interviews. She also teaches driving class and how to drive using a virtual driving simulator. She enjoys helping and volunteering in the Somali community.
  • EH Blu
    EH Blu Interpreter & Driver

    Eh wears many hats. There’s never a task he doesn’t complete with diligence and purpose – and all with a smile on his face! Eh enjoys supporting REC in multiple ways, including translating and driving clients to and from appointments as they acclimate to the Omaha community. Eh has used his experience as a refugee to lend a helping hand to others in the same situation and is a positive light for the REC staff and clients we serve.

  • Cailan Franz
    Cailan Franz Interim Director of Development & Communications
  • Kwot Gilo
    Kwot Gilo ARISE Caseworker
  • Dearra Godinez
    Dearra Godinez Interim Director of Operations
  • Mary Hei
    Mary Hei R&P Caseworker

    With almost ten years of experience as a caseworker at REC, Mary Hei takes the lead as role model for our newest employees. In her daily case manager work, she really enjoys helping fellow refugees become self-sufficient. As a refugee herself, she knows how hard it is to adjust to a new culture and feels it’s important to help them get settled properly in Omaha. Bonus points: she also speaks three languages: Burmese, Karen and English.

  • Abdullah Lami
    Abdullah Lami Match Grant Caseworker
  • Tarig Maki
    Tarig Maki Resettlement and Match Grant Coordinator

    Tarig is a numbers guy. He holds a degree in economics and has vast experience as a financial manager, but most importantly, as a refugee himself, he knows first-hand how refugees contribute to our bustling American economy. So, Tarig understands the importance of working closely with newly-arrived refugees on their monthly budgets and potential job opportunities within their first 90 days. 

  • Lee Mar
    Lee Mar Preferred Communities Caseworker

    Born in a refugee camp in Thailand, remembers fondly how her family received support when they arrived in the U.S., and she is passionate about providing the same help to others. She brings almost 2 years of experience working in social services, and speaks four languages: English, Karenni, Burmese and little bit of Karen.  In her role as a Preferred Communities caseworker, Lee helps refugees and refugee families who need additional case management beyond their 90-day initial resettlement period.

  • Erik Omar
    Erik Omar Interim Executive Director
  • Yogendra Pant
    Yogendra Pant PC/Behavioral Health Coordinator

    After 20 years of service to the poor and marginalized people of Nepal, Yogendra migrated to the United States. While here, he pursued his master degree in clinical counseling in order to serve the mental and behavioral health needs of refugees. His consistently positive attitude and hard work-ethic make him an incredible asset to the REC. Yogendra enjoys providing services to the refugee population to help them become self-sufficient.

  • Janelle Perez
    Janelle Perez Finance Coordinator
  • Fahima Rezai
    Fahima Rezai Employment Caseworker
  • Rick Rummel
    Rick Rummel Interim Director of Finance and Administration
  • Eh Soe Paw
    Eh Soe Paw ARISE Caseworker

    Eh Soe was born and raised in Thailand refugee camp and came to the US in 2013.  She speaks Karen and is currently studying at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.  In her role as an ARISE caseworker, she gets to help families with disabilities.  It is her dream to be able to help her community and to stand with the people with disabilities, and see them thriving.  In her free time, one of her favorite hobbies is Don Dance because she gets to represent the Karen and Poe Karen culture with dance that has been passed down from generation to generation.

  • Rock Steel
    Rock Steel Resettlement Caseworker
    Rock was born in Myanmar and grew up in a Thailand refugee camp.  He proudly became a US citizen in 2014 and speaks Karen, Burmese, and English.  Rock decided to work at REC because he likes helping his fellow refugee start their lives in the United States. As a new arrival in this country, he experienced how hard it was to deal with a new culture with a lack of knowledge and language barriers. He is excited to help refugees to become self-sufficient and successful in this country.
  • Esmatullah Sultani
    Esmatullah Sultani R&P Caseworker
  • Mohammad Zahir
    Mohammad Zahir R&P Caseworker

Board of
Directors


  • Anne Meysenburg
    Anne Meysenburg CHAIR

    Anne brings almost two decades of experience in nonprofit management, organizational infrastructure development, community development, arts management and grant-based work to REC. She graduated from the University of Nebraska-Omaha with a Bachelor of Arts in communications and public relations; and from the University of Missouri-Columbia’s Truman School of Public Affairs with a Master of Public Affairs in non-profit management and public policy analysis.  Meysenburg served as Executive Director for two different smaller nonprofits before joining the Omaha Community Foundation in 2015 as the Director of Community Investment.

  • Deepak Khazanchi
    Deepak Khazanchi Vice Chair

    The dream of a young boy in India to become an engineer and scholar has led Dr. Deepak Khazanchi to UNO’s College of Information Science & Technology, where he serves as Associate Dean, Professor of Information Systems, and Community Engagement and Internationalization Officer. Deepak is a civil engineering graduate of the Indian Institute of Technology and worked as a structural engineer and project manager before coming to the United States to obtain his MBA. After that, he earned his Ph.D. from Texas Tech University. He is excited about helping REC achieve its full potential.

  • Daniel Padilla
    Daniel Padilla Treasurer

    Originally from Guatemala, Daniel holds a Business Administration Degree from University Mariano Galvez in Guatemala City, and he is a graduate of the Nebraska Bankers Association Leadership Program and the Nonprofit Association of the Midlands, Executive Leadership Institute. After 25 years in banking, he became co-founder of Lending Link, a first-in-the-nation initiative to provide responsive financial coaching and alternative loan services to individuals. Lending Link works to improve the finances of low-to-moderate income households by transitioning the individuals out of the predatory and payday lenders to promote long-term financial stability. Daniel currently serves as Board Treasurer of the Heartland Workers Center, Treasurer of the D2 Center, Board Member National Justice for Our Neighbors and Loan Committee Member of Spark Capital.

  • KAREEN HICKMAN
    KAREEN HICKMAN Secretary

    Kareen’s experience in the non-profit arena makes her a MVP on the board and a great help with grant management and donors. She studied Communications at Concordia University in Seward Nebraska and holds a Certificate in Fundraising Management from University of Nebraska-Omaha. She has more than twelve years of non-profit experience and is an active volunteer in community. Kareen currently works for Immanuel, a non-profit dedicated to serving seniors. 

  • Mohamed Ali Jimale
    Mohamed Ali Jimale

    After serving as a volunteer for many years, Mohamed joined the board member in 2019.  He’s very knowledgable and connected to the Somali community, and more importantly, he cares a lot.  These connections were important to make sure the community’s voice was heard as we were seeking the state’s consent for resettlement.  During his time in a refugee camp, he worked as one of the camp leaders, helping keep the camp running smoothly.  He brings this experience and leadership skills to the board in addition to his passion for volunteering.

  • Elhag Abbaker
    Elhag Abbaker

    Elhag came to the United States as a refugee from Southern Sudan.  He has his civil engineering degree and worked in Libia as a civil engineer with companies all over the world.  Unfortunately, he and his family were forced to flee from violence in South Sudan, but the Omaha community has benefited from his work ethic and strong convictions about the importance of community. He provides a great perspective on how we can work together to help refugees in our community thrive.  One of his pieces of advice is to “think big, but start small.”

  • KABIR RAHMANZAI
    KABIR RAHMANZAI

    Kabir came to America in the early 1990’s as a refugee with $50 in his pocket. Within the first few weeks of his refugee life in Omaha, he started working two part-time jobs and began taking ESL classes at the University of Nebraska-Omaha. He received his bachelor and master’s degree in accounting from UNO. Kabir has held several leadership positions with different organizations and currently serves as the CFO for WellCare of Nebraska. He has served on the board as treasurer since October 2017.

  • Abdi Hussein
    Abdi Hussein

    Abdi serves as a Somali Community Liason in Omaha Public Schools.  The school systems are crucially important to refugee children’s success so having Abdi’s knowledge and experience is incredibly valuable.  He was recommended to be on the board because he is “brilliant” and “helps so many people and knows so much about the refugee community.”  During his time on the board Abdi has already assisted in important decisions surrounding program services and staff changes.

  • Heather McCain
    Heather McCain

    Heather brings 20+ years of advertising and marketing experience to REC. She graduated from Dana College with a B.F.A in Graphic Design, Fine Arts and Print Communications. Day-to-day she works as a Senior Art Director at Bozell, a 100-year-old Omaha advertising agency that specializes in working with companies who aspire to change the word. Heather brings those strategic thinking and branding skills to support social media and fundraising efforts at REC.

  • Kam Bany
    Kam Bany

    Kam is a talented photographer and poet who is already contributing to the richness of the Culture of Omaha.  He recently participated in the New American Arts Festival and is a student at Metro Community College where he is continuing his education.  Kam came to the US as a refugee from South Sudan.  We’re lucky to have him in our community and offering his valuable perspective to the board!

  • Jenni Shukert
    Jenni Shukert

    Jenni was born and raised in Omaha and currently leads the business development strategy for Olsson’s 200-person Omaha office. She has over 12 years of experience in the AEC industry, all while fostering her passion for her community. She has many achievements that have enabled her to shine as a role model including serving as the board president of Girls Inc of Omaha, board president of Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW) Omaha Metro and participating in ICAN’s Defining Leadership for Women program. She has been honored as one of Omaha’s 40 under 40 in the Midlands Business Journal in 2017, and was part of Leadership Omaha, Class 38.

  • Kimberly Thomas
    Kimberly Thomas

    Kimberly Thomas brings over 25 years of experience in advocating for and serving our communities most vulnerable populations. Kimberly is the executive director at CASA. In her prior work, Kimberly was the assistant director/director of Community Services at Lutheran Family Services. Kimberly was responsible for the management and leadership of the three offices serving refugees, immigrants and asylees. Kimberly is a graduate of Lead Diversity and Leadership Omaha Class of 43. She is currently on the board of Omaha Mom Prom, has served on the Nebraska CASA Association Board, is a member of the Omaha Women’s Fund Circles Group and was a founding member of the Omaha Women’s Fund Talk of the Town.

  • Feroz Mohmand
    Feroz Mohmand

    Feroz Mohmand rose from being a refugee within his home country of Afghanistan to become press coordinator for Afghanistan’s president, Hamid Karzai. He was also a liaison officer between embassies, NATO and the international media. He, his spouse Gharghashta “G” Katawazai and their family became refugees after he uncovered a plot against American diplomats and military officers. Today, military officers knowledgeable of this plot believe Mohmand’s actions saved American lives. After a long and difficult journey, the Mohmand family relocated to Nebraska. Mohmand now works as an system administrator for the AOI Coroporation and continues to share his story as a public speaker.

For an updated list of our board member’s contact information, click the button below.

If you are trying to reach someone within the organization, please email the general inbox at info@refugeeempowerment.org and your email will be directed to the correct person.  Thank you!