Refugees and asylum-seekers

3:30 pm, Diamond 141

  • Refugee resettlement and asylum trends in Maine: Catherine Yomoah, Maine State Office of Multicultural Affairs, and Tarlan Ahmadov, Catholic Charities Maine
  • Experiences of Somali refugees: Rilwan Osman, Maine Immigrant and Refugee Services
  • Experiences of Soviet Jewish refugees: Mikaela Johnson, Colby Class of ’16
  • Experiences of Burundi asylum-seekers: Mia Ntahobari, Maine Access Immigrants Network
  • moderator: David Greenham, Holocaust and Human Rights Center


Catherine YomoahCatherine Yomoah is the State Refugee Coordinator for Maine. An ardent advocate for equity and justice, she has a wide range of experiences working with refugees, immigrants, and other minorities. A graduate of the Muskie School of Public Service Graduate School of Public Policy and Management of the University of Southern Maine, Catherine started out as a teacher in Ghana, Nigeria and Turkey, where she got her first taste of working with Iraqi refugees from the First Gulf War. Ever the community service enthusiast, Catherine has served on a number of nonprofit boards, including the New England Regional Health Equity Council, Androscoggin Head Start and Child Care, the Governor’s Task Force on Early Childhood, Empower Lewiston, and the American Civil Liberties Union of Maine.

AhmadovTarlan Ahmadov is the Program Director for Refugee and Immigration Services/Language Partners at Catholic Charities Maine, where he has worked since 2004.  Prior to his immigration to the USA, Tarlan worked in the education field in Baku, Azerbaijan, and later joined the non-profit sector, combined with a consulting business to the Consulate of Azerbaijan in Tehran, Iran. Tarlan had the privilege to work  in various capacities with local and international NGOs, such as IFES (providing training to the newly established municipalities in Azerbaijan), and Social Research Center (by screening refugees from Chechnya, Afghanistan, Iran, and Iraq). He graduated from the Baku State University with a Masters in History and Social Sciences. Tarlan speaks several languages. Travel is one his passions: during the last two decades, he has  visited over 40 countries for business, training, and teaching purposes.

OsmanRilwan Osman was born in Somalia and lived in a refugee camp in Kenya for more than 10 years prior to arriving to the U.S in 2004. In 2008, Rilwan led the formation of an organization to educate and empower Somali Bantus in the Lewiston-Auburn area. The organization started providing youth programs like soccer, academic support and juvenile justice workshops. Rilwan and his team realized the need to also educate the parents of the youth and started literacy and citizenship programs for parents. Rilwan’s organization, now called Maine Immigrant and Refugee Services, now also offers behavioral health and other services, and will soon open an office in Portland.  Rilwan is also a father of four children and is studying social work at the University of New England.

JohnsonMikaela Johnson is a junior at Colby College. She is majoring in psychology and hopes to pursue a career either in counseling or in educational media. Mikaela volunteers as a tutor at Waterville Junior High, is a dedicated member of the Colby women’s squash team, and loves photography. This semester, she has taken a strong interest in the immigration experiences of Jewish immigrants from the Former Soviet Union who settled in Maine.

Mia-NtahobariMia Ntahobari holds a bachelor’s degree in social and clinical psychology from the National University of Burundi.  An advocate for social justice and human rights, she worked as a project manager for several organizations whose mission was to support families affected by war and suffering from severe trauma and stress.  She now works as an interpreter at Catholic Charities Maine and as a community health worker at Maine Access Immigrant Network.

GreenhamDavid Greenham is an adjunct professor of Drama at the University of Maine at Augusta and works as a grant writer and Program Manager for the Holocaust and Human Rights Center of Maine. He spent 14 years as the Producing Artistic Director of The Theater At Monmouth, and has been a theater artist and arts administrator for more than 25 years. He is also a freelance consultant for non-profit organizations working primarily in the areas of fundraising, grant writing, governance, and planning. David lives in Readfield where he currently serves as the chair of the RSU 38 Board of Directors.

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