Amanda studied Finance at the University of Nebraska and graduated from college at the age of 19. She later received her Masters in Business from Creighton University and spent 7 years working at Union Pacific Railroad before starting KOVUS, a technology consulting firm. Amanda served on the Board of Directors and became Executive Director in 2019.
Stacie HooverDirector of Operations
Through her work in local churches, corrections facilities, and non-profits Stacie has worked with a number of unique populations. She graduated in 2016 with a Master of Clinical Counseling and is passionate about helping those who are dealing with diverse issues. Stacie came to the REC with a desire to help organize programs and operations. Stacie has lived in the Omaha area her whole life and enjoys being a part of a community that welcomes diversity.
JMALELDINN ADAMESenior Manager of Programs
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 refugeeshope for their future as he helps them become productive members of their new community in Omaha.
Tarig MakiEmployment Caseworker
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 MarR&P 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. Lee loves that Omaha is a diverse, yet welcoming community and is thrilled to help others settle in after their arrival.
Mary HeiR&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 manger 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.
Jean KongoloR&P Caseworker
With a background in telecommunications and non-profit work, Jean came joined our R&P team in the spring of 2019. Previously, Jean was the co-founder of Vijana Africa, a youth-led nonprofit. As a former refugee, Jean takes pride in helping others achieve the same self-sufficiency he has achieved since arriving in Omaha. Jean’s warmth and compassion for others makes him an excellent support to our clients as they settle in to the Omaha community.
Yogendra PantPC/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.
Rhay WahPC Caseworker
After immigrating to the US, Rhay experienced the frustration that can occur when attempting to acclimate to a new country. This has driven her to provide a helping hand to refugees. She’s currently majoring in International Studies at the University of Nebraska at Omaha and loves volunteering at Knyaw Baptist Church. Rhay is passionate about helping others see that refugees help their neighbors and promote diversity in their communities.
Laurie AdamsOutreach Coordinator
With over 30 years of experience working with employment, Laurie brings a wealth of knowledge to volunteer recruitment and outreach activities. Laurie is passionate about being a part of making our clients’ lives better and helping them feel safe. She appreciates their smiling faces and considers it an honor to help them as they resettle in Omaha!
Timi OnafowokanOperations Intern
Tim is our resident do-it-all Operations Intern. He helps coordinate volunteers, organize donated items and keep our office running smoothly. Timi is originally from Nigeria and is a recent Creighton graduate with a Business Administration degree. He is working with us before heading to Georgetown for his Master’s degree.
EH BluInterpreter & 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.
Kathy LaughlinESL Teacher
Erik’s first introduction to REC was as a First Friend, a program where refugees and Omaha residents are connected for social support/friendship. Now as board chair, Erik helps guide the board in fulfilling the mission of REC. Erik graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a degree in psychology and communications and went on to earn his law degree from UNL. Erik served as in-house counsel for a local insurance company before spending time living abroad in China. He currently works for Union Pacific Railroad.
Heather McCainVice Chair
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.
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.
Kareen’s experience in the non-profit arena makes her a MVP on the board. 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 to seniors.
Mohamed Ali Jimale
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 in Kharagpur 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.
3610 Dodge Street, Suite 100 | Omaha NE 68131
Office Hours: Mon-Fri: 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Refugee Empowerment Center (REC) is an affiliate of Ethiopian Community Development Council, Inc. (ECDC). Reception and placement activities that the REC conducts are paid for, in part, through financial assistance provided by the Department of State through ECDC. REC received $60,000 through competitive funding through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and families, Grant #90RP0114-01. The Preferred Communities project will be financed 100% of Federal funds. The contents of this are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the U.S. Department of Health and Human services, Administration for Children and Families. Match Grant is a federally-funded program operated under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Refugee Resettlement. REC operates the Match Grant program through ECDC.