About > 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 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 Rosay School Bishop Kearny High School and St. Lawrence University.
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 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.
Dr. Malalah Ahmadzai
Dr. Malalah Ahmadzai heads up job navigating for RRRS. She is a full-fledged MD from Afghanistan and has been in the US with her husband and daughter more than two years. She brings with her ability to speak three languages and extensive experience in woman’s’ reproductive health working for the World Health Organization (WHO). Her principal efforts are towards helping new Americans find careers in the health field through the Health Professions Opportunity Grant (HPOG)
Ngo Hna manages ARSEO and our safe and healthy housing program with the City. Formerly from Burma via Thailand, Ngo Hna holds a Master’s degree from SUNY Binghamton, an undergrad degree from St. John Fisher College and a diploma from Aquinas Institute. Ngo Hna is well connected with her ethnic community both here and throughout the country. She has been with RRRS since the summer of 2019.
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)
Oo Reh is one of our Burmese maintenance and repair workers. He has been in the US for about 10 years. Along with Day Thoo, he is the mainstay of our home repair and maintenance efforts, helping us keep 60+ housing units safe and comfortable for our people.
Day Thoo is one of our Burmese maintenance and repair workers. He has been in the US for about 10 years. Along with Ooh Reh, he is the mainstay of our home repair and maintenance efforts, helping us keep 60+ housing units safe and comfortable for our people.
Mike Kelly started up and manages Rochester Refugee Sewing and Repair, located in our former office on Dewey at Lexington. Mike, a grad of RIT and occasional adjunct teacher there, holds a Master’s degree and studied soft goods design. His creative genius and connections with RIT have enabled RRRS to have a micro-enterprise offering fulfilling and worthwhile activity for some of our refugee women who otherwise would be trapped at home.
Diane Pryntz, along with Donna Nelligan-Barrett, leads the Deaf Refugee Advocacy Program. Diana, a co-founder is currently executive Director. She and Donna head a group of more than a dozen volunteers who have developed a program supporting and guiding Rochester’s deaf refugee community to self-sufficiency.
Donna Nelligan-Barrett, along with Diane Pryntz, leads the Deaf Refugee Advocacy Program. Donna is board chair. Together they lead a group of more than a dozen volunteers who have developed a program supporting and guiding Rochester’s deaf refugee community to self-sufficiency.