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.




andreaAndrea Cadwell MA, MS, Marketing Coordinator.  Ms. Cadwell is passionate about creating equity in food systems and vibrant economies that work in consonance with our natural resources. She has developed educational programs focused on the environment and agriculture for students of all ages in the US and in India. In 2016, Ms. Cadwell created the first program in sustainable agriculture for students at her local high school; the course work and hands-on training prepares high school students for careers in farming after graduation.

Ms. Cadwell has extensive experience in capacity building and sustainable economic development in rural, ethnic, and tribal communities throughout India. Andrea has worked with Vandana Shiva and rural farmers throughout India developing local seed banks and helping farmers return to traditionally sustainable farming practices.

In addition, Ms. Cadwell is a photographer with over 35 years of experience working with individuals and organizations throughout the world. Her work is featured in collections in the U.S. and abroad.

Ms. Cadwell studied social work at Boston College Graduate School of Social Work, in addition, she holds a Masters in Photography from New York University & The International Center of Photography, and a Masters in Environmental Science in Advocacy for Social Justice & Sustainability from Antioch University New England. You can reach Ms. Cadwell at acadwell@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_shafferLindsey Shaffer is the Project Coordinator for 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.  Led by ORIS, Welcoming Manchester is a collaborative effort among professionally and ethnically diverse community members all committed to a common goal – immigrant integration and success.

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.


alexAlex Ogle is currently engaged in a year-long volunteer commitment at ORIS through the AmeriCorps VISTA program. He is working closely with the Leadership team to help implement the Welcoming Manchester initiative which works to create and maintain opportunities for community collaboration for immigrant success in the city of Manchester.  Mr. Ogle is a Southerner by birth, having grown up in South Carolina and Texas. His love for travel and diverse experiences, however, has led him to live or travel throughout the United States and across four continents. His passions include art and design, sustainable agriculture, cultural diversity, and community activism. He is excited to be a part of the ORIS team building a diverse, inclusive, and positive environment for immigrants and refugees in Manchester. Mr. Ogle holds a B.F.A. in Fine Arts and a minor in Arts Administration from Texas Christian University. You can reach Mr. Ogle at aogle@refugeesuccess.org.