Summer 2018 Staff Changes

KOM's Office New Waiting Room and Front Desk

This summer, we have seen many changes in our staff here at KOM! We are happy to welcome 4 new staff, and we are grateful for the hard work of 2 incredible summer interns and 4 departing staff who are moving on to new positions elsewhere in their careers and academics. Keep reading to learn more about these amazing individuals!

Meet Our New Staff!

Rebekah's headshotRebekah Hanson – Career Development Counselor

Why did you decide you wanted to work at KOM?
I decided to apply for the Career Development Counselor position at KOM because I wanted to develop my skills in case management and employment counseling. When I left my AmeriCorps VISTA position with KOM as the Community Engagement Specialist about a year ago, my goal was to gain more experience doing direct service. I found a job working as an admin assistant at an ESL school for adults, but unfortunately I was laid off. I quickly found another job doing customer service at a different nonprofit, but I felt like I wasn’t using my skills and knowledge to the greatest extent. When I saw the job posting at KOM, I applied because I wanted to continue developing my direct service skills and I was excited about the opportunity of working at KOM again. One of my passions is to empower refugees to reach their goals, particularly with the Karen community and other refugees from Burma.

What have you been doing since you started working at KOM?
Since starting to work at KOM, I have been learning more about my position and the program I will oversee. Since the program I will be working with is new, there is a lot of program development that needs to take place. The program is meant to introduce jobs in trades (such as manufacturing, welding, carpentry, plumbing, etc.) to refugees so they are equipped with a broad range of skills once leaving the program. Some relationships with employers and trade unions have already been made by Roseville ABE (our partner), but I will be networking even more to establish trainings and gain resources for program participants. I have also been training with my co-worker in using our database to conduct intake with new clients and make case notes.

What are you most looking forward to with your job at KOM?
I am looking forward to helping refugees from Burma develop a career with jobs in the trades that are in high demand right now. This training program will be very beneficial for refugees who have graduated from high school and want to work right away without accumulating college debt. I especially look forward to encouraging women who are underemployed in the trades to explore this pathway. Lastly, I am excited about supporting refugees in their search for meaningful employment and seeing them reach their goals.

Lisa's headshot

Lisa Gibson – Career Development Counselor (Interpreting)

Why did you decide you wanted to work at KOM?
I had worked at KOM through the MOC program and the staff welcomed me into the family. I missed working with everyone here and was so happy to be able to come back as the Interpreting Program Career Counselor. I have a background in ESL education and with my experience working with the employment team here at KOM, I thought the position was a perfect fit.

What have you been doing since you started working at KOM?
As I’m settling into my new role, I’m figuring out the structure of the program and learning from Sara about how my role functions. I’m meeting participants in the interpreting pathway program while attending out training classes in the evenings, and I’m learning what’s needed for casefiles and database entry.

What are you most looking forward to with your job at KOM?
I’m looking forward to learning more! I enjoy learning about language and interpreting. Overall, I am looking forward to learning from the leaders who are working hard to make healthy community development happen.

Nali Puday's headshotNali Puday – Career Development Counselor (CNA)

Why did you decide you wanted to work at KOM?
I always knew I wanted to help others, especially my community. I was working at REACH Together as an advocate for the Karen community, while I was in school. That has been a passion for me and I want to continue to build my experience. I wanted to help maintain my culture and continue helping people in the community. The Karen Organization of Minnesota wil be a great place for me to start working while continue learning, give back and work towards my career.

What have you been doing since you started working at KOM?
My role is a Career Development Counselor for the CNA Program. This is a new program, so far I have been working on recruiting for students from many different places. I went to a couple of job fairs for the recruitment and also trying to collect information from the job fairs that I can refer clients to if they needed help. I have been searching for different facilities such as the recreation center for recruitment, sent flyers to different nursing homes and connected with schools. I am also helping with walk ins so I can recruit at the same time through parents. Recruiting is not an easy process and hopefully we will come to a successful conclusion.

What are you most looking forward to with your job at KOM?
I am looking forward to spending the next couple of years at the Karen Organization of Minnesota where I feel I share most of its values. I am looking forward to demonstrate my leadership capabilities and hopefully contribute to its growing success.

Eh Gay Htoo So's headshotEh Gay Htoo So – Receptionist

Why did you decide you wanted to work at KOM?
My goal is to help the Karen people in Minnesota because a lot of my people struggle with language barriers, financial needs, and housing. Through KOM I am able to provide them the services they need or point them to the individuals who can help them.

What have you been doing since you started working at KOM?
As KOM’s receptionist, I answer the phone, order office supplies, and sign in the walk in appointments. I have also been learning how to type in Karen on my computer as part of my job. Since starting at KOM, I have been teaching my children Karen at home so they do not forget their language and culture.

What are you most looking forward to with your job at KOM?
I look forward to working with different people who share a similar passion for serving the Karen community. Also, I am excited to meet all the new people that come through KOM’s office. It is a pleasure to be a part of the community at KOM.

Meet Our Summer Interns!

Alicia's headshotAlicia Powers – Masters of Social Work Intern

Why did you decide you wanted to intern at KOM?
I was matched to KOM through the Community Health Initiative (CHI) at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities as a partnership with Medica. CHI is a unique effort that focuses directly on communities that face public health disparities and other socio-economic issues. Public health disparities significantly challenge historically underrepresented groups such as people of color. They face difficulties when faced with the cost, quality, and availability of health care, social services, and public health resources. CHI responds by providing resources to help community-based nonprofit organizations and businesses that impact public health, social services, medicine, and medical technology. The CHI program addresses health disparities and socio-economic issues by supporting University of Minnesota students from underrepresented backgrounds, with special consideration for students of color. My personal background as a multiracial Native and Latina woman, growing up in poverty without role models with higher education is the reason I am committed to serving these populations, and why I applied to the internship.

What have you been doing since you started working at KOM?
I have worked towards 3 main goals while at KOM. The goals are: Karen people with chronic stress, mental illness, substance use, and related concerns will increase their skills and access to resources. Increase KOM staff’s knowledge, skills, and confidence related to helping clients navigate and access existing services related to mental health, substance abuse, and social determinants of health. Identify and describe access barriers faced by Karen community members (KOM staff and clients) in accessing and navigating existing services and strengths and skills that facilitate system navigation and accessing services. I have worked on these goals through case management with Lwepaw and Ta Da’s clients, resource mapping with Moses, and creating documentation to help walk-ins run more smoothly.

What have you enjoyed the most about your internship at KOM?
I deeply value the community-based approach in action, not just spoken about. This organization truly changes the approach to mental health treatment at the paradigm level in order to have members of the community serving members of the community. So rarely is that actually put into practice.  This internship has completely restructured the way I will approach and engage in social work for the rest of my career. Working on an interdisciplinary team with the idea of respecting a community’s ability to solve their own problems, and putting that into action is something I’ve never seen or been a part of before. Now that I know it’s possible, that is what I want to implement in my career.

Bud's headshotBud Schaefer – Communications Intern

Why did you decide you wanted to intern at KOM?
I first heard about KOM when I took part in the mentorship program as part of a class I took at Bethel University. Mentoring Karen high schoolers helped me to see how unique the Karen community is and when I saw that the position for Communications Intern was open I jumped at the chance to continue working with KOM.

What have you been doing since you started working at KOM?
For my position I mainly post to KOM’s Facebook and write the monthly newsletters. Other parts of my job include visiting different KOM programs and events, taking pictures for social media, and updating KOM’s website.

What have you enjoyed the most during your internship at KOM?
Getting to learn more about the Karen culture has been great. Experiencing unique aspects of the Karen culture like the food, weaving, and dancing is something I never would have gotten to do if I had not interned here. Everyone here has been so welcoming and has done everything they can to make me feel like I am part of KOM.  It’s been a good work environment to be in over the summer and I have learned a lot from KOM that I can take with me into future jobs.

Congratulations to our Transitioning Staff

Four of our staff have transitioned into new roles here at KOM.

Saw Poe Thay Doh's headshot
Saw Poe Thay Doh – Career Development Counselor
Sara Johnson's headshot
Sara Johnson – Career Development Program Manager

Sara Johnson became our third program manager and is in charge of the Career Development team, where Saw Poe Thay Doh, our former receptionist now works as a Career Development Counselor.

Ner Mu, who was a Community Health Educator, recently joined the employment team this summer as an Employment Counselor.

Suzanne Olive's headshot
Suzanne Olive – Volunteer Coordinator
Ner Mu's headshot
Ner Mu – Employment Counselor

Finally, Suzanne Olive completed her AmeriCorps term at KOM as a Community Engagement Specialist VISTA, and has assumed the role of Volunteer Coordinator.

A Special Thank You to Our Departing Staff

Mahnthurai Min's headshot
Mahnthurai Min – Employment Counselor (2016-2018)
Every Gyi's headshot
Every Gyi – Community Educator with the Department of Natural Resources (2017-2018)
Par Yei Say's headshot
Par Yei Say – Employment Navigator (2017-2018)
Keetha Vue's headshot
Keetha Vue – Development Associate (2017-2018)













We would like to thank departing staff Mahnthurai Min, Every Gyi, Par Yei Say, and Keetha Vue for all the service they put in during their time at KOM. We wish all of you good luck in your future careers and want you to know that you are missed here at KOM. Thank you so much again for all the work you have put in to help the community of refugees from Burma.

Ta blut doh mah,

The KOM staff

Newsletter Signup


Follow Us