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Leader of Refugee Empowerment Center, an Omaha resettlement agency, resigns

Leader of Refugee Empowerment Center, an Omaha resettlement agency, resigns

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Members of Team Rubicon, a veteran-focused disaster relief organization, are taking on a new mission: furnishing homes for Afghan refugees seeking safety in The United States.

The executive director of the Refugee Empowerment Center stepped down Wednesday to take another job.

Amanda Kohler said she was leaving the nonprofit for a position in the career field she was in before becoming the center’s director in 2019.

She said she had promised to serve as interim executive director for eight weeks during a challenging time for the organization. That stretched into 2½ years.

The Refugee Empowerment Center is one of two agencies that resettle refugees in Omaha. The other is Lutheran Family Services.

Another nonprofit, the Immigrant Legal Center, will manage the agency temporarily while its board determines next steps, including searching for a new executive director. Erik Omar, the Immigrant Legal Center’s executive director and former chairman of the Refugee Empowerment Center board, will serve as interim executive director.

Anne Meysenburg, chairwoman of the resettlement agency’s board, said the change will not affect the nonprofit’s ability to resettle the number of refugees from Afghanistan and elsewhere to which it has committed.

“I don’t anticipate us skipping a beat in terms of supporting those Afghan folks that are coming here for the first time, and support of those new arrivals that we’re going to receive over the next fiscal year,” Meysenburg said.

She called Kohler a dynamic leader who has been a strong voice for welcoming refugee families to Omaha, and thanked her for her leadership and friendship.

Kohler said she is taking a job in technology and product management at Oriental Trading Co. She said she will remain involved with the Refugee Empowerment Center.

“I really admire so many people that work here and our board and the donors that we’ve been able to attract as partners,” Kohler said.


Omaha World-Herald: Afternoon Update

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Chris Burbach covers the Douglas County Board, Planning Board and other local government bodies, as well as local neighborhood issues. Follow him on Twitter @chrisburbach. Phone: 402-444-1057.

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