ORIS Staff

Biographical Sketches of Key Personnel

Mukhtar Idhow's Photo Mukhtar Idhow (PD), Executive Director of ORIS, leads an innovative ethnic self-help organization that serves refugees from a variety of countries. In this role he manages an agricultural program that coordinates land access, training, technical assistance, and translation services for refugee farmers. A native of Somalia, Mr. Idhow attended high school and secondary school in Kenya. He worked as the Farm Training Coordinator for the non-profit organization GT2 where he trained refugee camp residents on basic crop production. In the U.S., Mr. Idhow worked as an interpreter for the Manchester Community Health Center and for Southern New Hampshire Services, where he was a liaison and interpreter between Somali clients and medical providers, city schools, the Dept. of Health and Human Services (DHHS), and other service providers in the community.  You can reach Mr. Idhow at midhow@refugeesuccess.org


tomTom Paulsen, Farm Manager.  Mr. Paulsen assists the farmers when needed and manages the farm on a day to day basis, including land management, soil health, pest management and infrastructure maintenance and development.   Mr. Paulsen holds his bachelor’s degree from University of California, Santa Cruz, in Social Horticulture.  His Senior Thesis consisted of The Homeless Garden Project which was the first CSA in Santa Cruz County, and one of the first CSAs in the country. The garden largely employed homeless veterans suffering from PTSD and substance abuse issues, and followed organic and sustainable agricultural practices.  Mr. Paulsen also worked on various organic farms in Northern California, and spent 13 years in Southern Spain working in construction and teaching English as a second language.  His additional experiences include Farmers Market and CSA management for several farms including Bartlett Farm in Nantucket, MA.  Applying a unique mix of educational and agricultural expertise gained from practical experience, Mr. Paulsen consistently creates environments where people of varied experience, age, and culture can thrive and develop.  He has a deep commitment to helping people to benefit from the restorative and empowering nature of agriculture.  You can reach Mr. Paulsen at tpaulsen@refugeesuccess.org



charleneCharlene Higgins, NASAP Program Manager. Ms. Higgins supports the NASAP participants to build their skills and capacity, achieve their farm-business goals, increase self-sufficiency, and become integral members of the local food system. She coordinates a variety of training and market access activities for the New American Sustainable Agriculture Project, assists advanced farmers in their transition to independence through the development of cooperative enterprises, and supports other innovative initiatives within the agriculture program.  Ms. Higgins brings experience working with limited-resource populations from diverse cultural, socioeconomic and educational backgrounds and is passionate about building strong, equitable and participatory communities. Ms. Higgins holds a B.A. in Anthropology and a B.S. in Environmental & Resource Economics from the University of New Hampshire, and she is currently pursuing her M.A. in Community Development Policy & Practice from the UNH Carsey School of Public Policy.  You can reach Ms. Higgins at chiggins@refugeesuccess.org




Andrea Bye is the agricultural program director, at ORIS.  She first joined ORIS when it was still the Somali Bantu Community Association of NH in 2010.  Since then, she has implemented land and market based training and the collective marketing initiative under the Fresh Start Farms NH branding.  She has also developed working relationships with UNH Cooperative Extension and USDA county agencies to collaborate on delivering culturally appropriate education and outreach to refugee farmers.  Andrea has more than ten years of organic farm and food system experience in New Hampshire and Kenya, where she has trained hundreds of farmers in agro-ecology.  She was a participant of UNH Cooperative Extension’s first Natural Resource Business Institute course in 2007. She is an alumna of St. Lawrence University with a BA in Environmental Studies, and a minor in African Studies.  Andrea enjoys spending time with her family, being outdoors and supporting local agriculture. You can reach Ms. Bye at abye@refugeesuccess.org


Alex Sebantu, Employment Specialist was born in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a beautiful country that is surrounded by mountains and the deep rich rainforest. Mr. Sebantu works full time at ORIS, providing employment opportunities to refugees and conducting outreach in a variety of languages. Mr. Sebantu is fluent in English, French, Swahili, Kirundi and Kinyarwanda. In 2004, civil conflict and unrest caused Mr. Sebantu’s family to flee to a refugee camp in the neighboring country of Burundi. In 2007, Mr. Sebantu’s family was selected for resettlement in the United States. They were settled in Concord, New Hampshire where Mr. Sebantu attended high school. Mr. Sebantu also graduated from West over Job Corps. Currently, Mr. Sebantu is working toward an Associate’s Degree from New Hampshire Technical Institute (NHTI).  You can reach Mr. Sebantu at asebantu@refugeesuccess.org






Lindsey Shaffer is the Director of Welcoming Manchester.  Ms. Shaffer works alongside the Welcoming Manchester Leadership Team and members of the Manchester community to coordinate, facilitate, and promote various events, projects and communications within the Initiative.  Hosted by ORIS, Welcoming Manchester is a collaborative effort among professionally and ethnically diverse community members and agencies all committed to a common goal – the integration and success of Manchester’s immigrants.

Ms. Shaffer is from Avis, PA and holds a B.A. in English Writing and Spanish from Lock Haven University, where she also minored in Women & Gender Studies and International Studies.  She spent a semester studying abroad in Spain and there developed her love for travel.  Upon graduation, she interned as an options counselor at the Clinton County Women’s Shelter, and then spent the following years traveling across the U.S. and other countries working and volunteering with non-profit organizations.  Her passions and collection of experiences have led her to the position she currently holds with ORIS.  You can reach Ms. Shaffer at lshaffer@refugeesuccess.org


Ameenah Shabazz

You can reach Ms. Shabazz at ashabazz@refugeesuccess.org




Hibo Ali

You can reach Ms. Ali at hali@refugeesuccess.org




Minata Toure

You can reach Ms. Toure at mtoure@refugeesuccess.org