Sadiya Omar


Vice President and Co-Founder
Lead Case Manager

Sadiya fled the civil war in Somalia in the early 1990s and became a respected educator and advocate for women and girls in refugee camps in Kenya. Advocating for girls’ education was contested and dangerous, and Ms. Omar’s life was in danger in the camp. Because of that, her application for asylum was fast-tracked and she arrived in the United States in 2001, after residing in refugee camps for ten years. She continued her tireless advocacy after resettling in Rochester, working with other Somali refugees to form the Somali Community of Western New York (SCWNY), which became Refugees Helping Refugees in 2015. Continue reading “Sadiya Omar”

Andriana Ongoiba


Executive Director

Andi has worked personally and professionally with refugees, victims of human trafficking and other displaced people for more than 15 years. Andi is multilingual (Arabic, Bambara, Spanish, French and Italian) and has a Masters degree in Psychology. She previously was the Health Program Director and Speaker Series Coordinator at RHR and an ESL instructor through RCSD’s OACES program.  Prior to relocating to Rochester, she worked in a prominent human rights and legal services agency in New York City providing direct legal and social services for human trafficking and domestic violence victims. She served as a host for 8 years in the US State Department’s International Visitor Leadership Program providing an overview of best practices in trauma-informed care for and identification of trafficking victims to visiting diplomats.

Pia Møller


Director of Programs

Pia came to RHR in 2016 as a development specialist/grant writer. In 2017 she stepped in as Program Director. She holds a Ph.D. in Cultural Studies and spent a decade in public higher education teaching courses in immigration, race, and gender studies. She has also taught English as a Second Language to Central American immigrants and conducted field research on anti-immigrant mobilization in Northern Virginia. She is a public education advocate and is excited to partner with organizations and agencies in Rochester to make educational and vocational opportunities accessible to refugees and other new Americans.

Joanne Pagano


Speaker Series Coordinator 

Joanne is currently the Speaker Series Coordinator for RHR. She is responsible for scheduling people to speak about health-related topics as well as issues of importance to the refugee population.

Joanne began her career in 1982 as a Special Education Speech/language Pathologist. She spent most of that time teaching preschool children with language and communication delays and disorders. Joanne also worked for the Warner School of Education at the University of Rochester under a federal grant as a language consultant to parochial school preschool teachers in Rochester. She was hired in 2016 by the Office of Adult Continuing Educational Services of the Rochester City School District to teach English as a second language to the beginning level of students at Refugees Helping Refugees which continued until August 2019. Joanne is now enjoying her role as Speaker Series Coordinator at RHR where she also is involved in other activities on an as-needed basis.

Awo Jama


Assistant Case Manager

Awo previously worked with Refugees Helping Refugees as an AmeriCorps VISTA through the New York Immigration Coalition, serving as a Youth Program Coordinator. After the end of her term of service, she joined our team as an Assistant Case Manager. Her responsibilities include assisting clients with applications (DHS, Housing, Employment, and more), and connecting clients to resources (ie. legal, health, educational, childcare, and more). She has a B.A. and M.A. in psychology, which offers a broader scope of practice for her to help a diverse group of people and understand their unique needs. 

Pamela Adams


Assistant Case Manager

Pam has been with Refugees Helping Refugees since 2016. While her background is in English literature and teaching, she feels that social work is her true calling. In addition, she is a passionate advocate for immigration, adoption and mental health reform. 

Natalie Huynh


Volunteer Management and Communications – Americorps VISTA

Natalie is currently working with Refugees Helping Refugees as an Americorps VISTA through the New York Immigration Coalition. She had just recently graduated with a Bachelors in Anthropology from the University of Rochester, where she was honored for her extensive research on the detainment of Uyghur individuals into concentration or re-education camps in Xinjiang, China. With the many transferable skills she obtained from her degree, she hopes to support the refugee/immigrant cause. At RHR, she is in charge of the organization’s volunteer program and all communications, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, monthly newsletters, and press releases. Additionally, she assists with RHR’s fundraising efforts and helps manage the Front Office.