About > Our People

Our People

Since 2012 RRRS has been serving New Americans. This terminology includes refugees, immigrants, “no one left behind” (natives who have served our military in their home country) and now asylum seekers.

These folks come from a variety of countries and cultures which are very different from each other and from our culture. They range from skilled professionals to illiterate farmers. This requires understanding of each culture and its relationship with American cultural values.

To help bridge this understanding gap we have as staff New Americans themselves who have become familiar with our culture and values and are familiar with the cultural differences.

Because we house most of those whom we serve, we get to know the entire family and the needs and challenges that each member of the family faces, giving us a unique perspective on how to help them become self-sufficient.

Djifa Kothor

photo of Djifa Kothor

Djifa Kothor is our Executive Director. He has been with RRRS since 2014 and manages day to day operations and especially the housing. His family came originally from Togo and have been here for 20 years. Djifa is a graduate of Holy Rosary School, Bishop Kearny High School and St. Lawrence University.

Kathy LaBue

photo of Kathy LaBue

Kathy LaBue is our board chair. Kathy is the co-founder of Mary’s Place Refugee Outreach, which was the organization that got this whole thing rolling. She has more than a dozen years of experience dealing with refugees from three continents and is one of the more knowledgeable people in our area on understanding refugees and their needs and concerns.

Mike Coniff

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Mike Coniff is the founder of RRRS and CEO. Starting from a desktop computer at home, Mike has helped RRRS grow to what it is today. Mike would be first to admit that it has been God’s hand and the talent and dedication of staff and volunteers who have brought RRRS to what it is today.

Jason DeLooze

photo of Jason DeLooze

Jason DeLooze joined RRRS mid-pandemic, as a Flower City AmeriCorps member. Born and raised in Rochester, he wanted to give back to his community and be involved in direct nonprofit work. His passion and dedication to our cause has brought him a job offer so that he can continue to perform in this role. Jason looks forward to a long career at RRRS, working with Djifa to enhance and improve the services we provide.

Daniel Howard

photo of Daniuel Howard

Daniel Howard is a 2020 graduate of Nazareth College, where he studied political science and French. He works at RRRS as our asylum case manager, and has done so since summer 2020. He is passionate about human rights and international law, and will be attending law school at Case Western in Cleveland, Ohio. Daniel is very grateful to all the staff and clients at RRRS.

Robert Tawney

photo of Robert Tawney

Robert Tawney is our bookkeeper and financial analyst. Rob has been associated with RRRS for more than 4 years, first as a volunteer teaching sign language to a deaf refugee and now as staff. Rob is deaf and is co-founder of Deaf Refugee Advocacy, and a past president of the Rochester Deaf Rotary Club (the only deaf Rotary Club in the US). He also works as a job navigator for deaf candidates in the Health Professions Opportunity Grant. (HPOG)

Day Thoo

photo of Day Htoo

Day Thoo is one of our Burmese maintenance and repair workers. He has been in the US for about 10 years. He is the mainstay of our home repair and maintenance efforts, helping us keep 60+ housing units safe and comfortable for our people.

Aung Ngae

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Aung Ngae Aung Ngae is a hard worker from Myanmar who does all kinds of maintenance tasks for RRRS. He came to Rochester via Thailand with his family in 2009.

Grace Ridley

photo of Grace Ridley

Grace Ridley comes to RRRS through Flower City AmeriCorps. She has joined Ngo Hna, assisting her with coordination of the ARSEO program, and setting up the summer middle school program. She is a social work student at SUNY Brockport and is passionate about helping students achieve their goals.

Gabriel Jackel-Dewhurst

photo of Gabriel Jackel-Dewhurst

Gabe Jackel-Dewhurst has joined RRRS for the summer as social media coordinator. He is a student at RIT studying English and Psychology, graduating at the end of the year. He values the chance to contribute to a meaningful effort toward the vital cause of refugees and asylum seekers.

England Abdi

portrait of England Abdi

England Abdi is from Somalia, but was born in Liboi, Kenya. She started in June of 2021 as our Healthy Homes Project Coordinator. She has a passion for assisting people to overcome any challenges they are experiencing because she relates to them. She enjoys working with a diverse group of people and help them connect with resources that they are oftentimes unaware of. In addition, she believes that it is essential to have a deep understanding of cultural differences to provide quality care while also being culturally sensitive. Her role is to be open-minded and meet people where they are in life. She is a social work student at the College at Brockport, State University of New York.

Phil Matt

Nimble Eye Design graphic

Phil Matt has served as Webmaster for the RRRS since 2014. A “recovered photojournalist,” Phil donates his web design services (Nimble Eye Design) to the RRRS because he believes that refugees have always played such a central role in the vibrancy, growth and progress of American society. He is honored to be able to contribute to the RRRS in their ongoing efforts to help refugees in their new American lives.

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