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. Her leadership and service to the Rochester refugee community have earned her multiple distinctions, including the 2016 Jefferson Award and 2016 Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Award for Outstanding Public Service Benefiting Local Communities. Most recently, Omar is the 2019 winner of the Antoinette Brown Blackwell Award for Woman of the Year.  Ms. Omar is linguistically proficient in Somali, Maay Maay, and Swahili. She has more than 25 year’s experience as a refugee educator, advocate, and case manager–first in refugee camps abroad, and later in Rochester, NY. She was a founding director of the Somali Community of Western New York (SCWNY) and guided the organization’s growth to become Refugees Helping Refugees, an organization that serves refugees of all backgrounds. She has worked with several medical doctors, including Dr. Louise Bennett, Dr. Jennifer Carroll, and Dr. Lois van Tol to ensure culturally appropriate health care to refugee patients, especially refugee women. She has led many focus groups, and spends her time advocating for community members and assisting them as our Lead Case Manager. Sadiya Omar will serve as professional facilitator of the groups, a community figure who has earned the respect of many ethnic groups.