The GCSM Team
The GCSM Board of Directors
Abdullahi Ali is an accomplished community member and leader. Abdullahi is the founder and Executive Director of Gateway Community Services Maine. Abdullahi was born in Somalia, raised in Kenyan refugee camp, Dadaab, and resettled in Maine as a refugee. While in Kenya, Abdullahi received his Associate’s in Community Development from the Kenya Institute of Social Work and Community Development. He acquired a Bachelor’s in Sociology and Public Administration at the University of Kenya in Nairobi. Abdullahi has worked with humanitarian and development agencies in Kenya including positions as the Peace Education Officer and a Refuse, Recycling, and Income Generation (RRIG) Officer. He was regularly involved in programs and activities of income generation for vulnerable communities, peace education, women’s empowerment and skills development. He brought his vision of inclusivity and ambition with him when he moved to Maine. Abdullahi continued his pursuit of higher education by studying for a Bachelor’s in Social Science at the University of Southern Maine (USM) and graduating with a Master of Science degree in Justice Studies with a concentration in Public Administration (Law Enforcement, Judiciary, and Legislation) from Southern New Hampshire University. He is currently completing his PhD in Public Policy at the Muskie School at USM. Since 2009, Abdullahi has worked with survivors of torture and individuals and families with mental illness in Portland, Maine. In 2019, Maine Magazine honored Abdullahi as one of “50 Mainers Creating a Brighter Future for the State,” and in 2020, he received the Metamorphosis Visionary Leadership Award. Abdullahi continues to strive towards the greater good of the communities he lives with the work that he does in his organizations and the other organizations he is member of the Board of Directors.
Hermeet K. Kohli, Ph.D., MSW
Hermeet Kohli is an Associate Professor at the School of Social Work at the University of Southern Maine. She teaches both undergraduate and graduate social work courses in the content areas of diversity, research, practice, and field work. Her current research projects focus on narratives of refugee and asylum seeking women on child abuse and neglect, as well as interpersonal violence; providing effective and relevant social services for new immigrant populations; coping strategies of children from bicultural families; qualitative and quantitative reflections on challenges faced while teaching courses on human diversity; redefining and measuring cultural competence in social work profession; development of online social work courses; and focus of diversity in early childhood education.
Professor Kohli has worked as a generalist social work practitioner in several national and international social work agencies. As the Senior Coordinator of the KICS (Kentucky Interdisciplinary Community Screenings) grant, Kent School of Social Work, University of Louisville, she was the liaison with all the team players (Area Health Education Centers, U of L student and faculty from Social Work, Medicine, Dentistry, Nursing, Public Health, and other community leaders and organizations) in the health field. Before coming to the United States, Professor Kohli had been actively involved in advocacy and outreach for the runaway and street youth in India.
Dana Glass is a writer, teacher, and program director at Safe Space Radio, a public radio show about the intersection of mental health and social justice. Before returning to Maine, Dana was a college English instructor in New Orleans, where she also edited a literary journal and taught creative writing in the prison system. Before that, she recorded hundreds of stories as a facilitator with StoryCorps and helped coordinate outreach and communications for their Historias Initiative.
John Ochira is a Program Officer at Maine Community Foundation. John recently worked as a Disability Benefit Specialist at Unum and has served as Vice President of the board of Maine Immigrants’ Rights Coalition and President of the South Sudanese Community Association of Maine. He also founded and directed an immigrant-led soccer program in the Greater Portland area. John also served on several nonprofit boards and committees including the Southern Maine Workers Center, City of Portland Community Development Block Grant Allocation Committee. In his free time, John likes to play soccer and take photographs.
Yussuf Abdi was born in Somalia and raised in Kenya. He resettled in Maine as a refugee in 2006. While in Kenya, Yussuf worked with Medicine San Frontiers (MSF) as a Pharmacy Technician and Auxiliary Nurse. Yussuf studied Liberal Arts and is a trained Medical Laboratory Technician.
He earned his Bachelor’s degree in Biology from the University of Maine, Augusta. In 2015, Yussuf graduated from the University of New England as a Physician’s Assistant. Since then, Yussuf has been working in that capacity at Maine General Hospital. Being a member of Gateway’s Board of Managers gives Yussuf the opportunity to give back to his community.
Born and raised in Mogadishu, Somalia, Yahye Hussein currently attends USM as a full-time student where he studies Healthcare Administration, with a minor in Business Administration. He is constantly motivated by his family, community, and a commitment to the world overall. Currently working at Spurwink, Yahye is a Unit Supervisor where he works with children on the autism spectrum. His favorite part about working with the kids is watching them learn and improve on their everyday skills such as brushing their teeth. Although these might seem like small steps, they are significant in moving towards independence and agency, and can spark a great amount of genuine joy. During his free time Yahye enjoys running, biking, hanging out with friends, family, and learning. He also enjoys hiking during the spring and summer.
Joe is a Portland resident and has been a member of the GCSM Board since November 2019. He studied international affairs at the University of Maine before heading to Washington, D.C., where he spent just over five years living on Capitol Hill and working as an advisor to Congresswoman Chellie Pingree. After leaving D.C., Joe spent time living in Edinburgh, Scotland studying international development and working for a community center and social enterprise focused on providing an inclusive space for recreation and events. Joe wrote his master’s thesis on sport and recreation’s impact on immigrant youth in new communities and worked with youth in Lewiston. He spent time with the City of Portland working at the East End Community Center focusing on youth recreation, and currently works for the State of Maine. Joe volunteers with Portland Adult Ed tutoring English language learners and at the East End Community School.
Ladislas Nzeyimana moved to Portland in 2016 from Burundi. Currently a student at Bowdoin College, Ladi plans to major in Government and Legal Studies. Ladi continues to serve as a Youth Lead Organizer with Portland Empowered and one of the founding members of the Portland Youth Council. In addition, Ladi works closely with the Young People’s Caucus as a facilitator to engage legislators and youth in dialogues on youth-based problems. In his time at high school, Ladi served as the Student Body President for the Deering High School Class of 2020, where he worked to create opportunities for students to be engaged in meaningful decisions that affect their high school carriers.
Marcelle Medford is an Assistant Professor in the Sociology Department and Africana Studies Program at Bates College. Her research and teaching interests lie at the intersection of urban sociology, immigration, race, and ethnicity. Specifically, she examines how black immigrants understand their own ethnically-specific identities in the United States. This shift in perspective explores how black immigrants produce ethnic boundaries that extend far beyond ethnic conflict with African Americans and incorporates dimensions of cultural performativity, nationality, political and class ideologies, transnationalism, and citizenship status.
Djamal Maldoum of Lewiston is a student, community organizer and artist. As an organizer and founder of local group – Team207 – Djamal helped to coordinate and facilitate a large annual community event in March called African Night. This event was one meant to celebrate the diversity of African cultures present here in Maine. Sharing food, fashion, dance, resources and opportunities to connect with neighbors, community building and networks are at the heart of this event. While studying architecture at Southern Maine Community College, Djamal has led virtual painting classes for the Gateway community during the time of pandemic. Djamal currently works at Spurwink in Lewiston while also building his own art business – Jamal’s Boutique.
Caroline Sample is a member and the Secretary of Gateway’s Board of Managers. Caroline was born and raised in London, UK. Caroline attended Southampton University UK and earned a BS in Sociology and Politics, followed by an MA in Curriculum Development from London University.
After working briefly in a hospital and for the local social services department in the London area, Caroline began teaching in 1973. She retired from teaching in 2014, having spent her teaching career in various locations including South London, Cameroon and Maine. In Lewiston, ME she taught English and Social Studies to English Language Learners at the high school. Caroline is married with three adult children. Caroline and her husband live in Brunswick, Maine.
John Bauer was born and raised in Westfield, Massachusetts during the 40’s and 50’s. Upon earning a BS and MS in physics from St. Lawrence University and Iowa State University, he worked as an exploration geophysicist in the Rocky Mountain region of the United States, London, UK and Saudi Arabia. Returning to the United States, he was the co-founder of a geophysical data exchange company and the owner/operator of a frozen yogurt franchise. He has also worked as a business broker and a tax preparer.
After moving to the Portland, Maine area he has served as treasurer for Blue Point Congregational church and most recently the treasurer of the church’s Mission Fund. In honor of his aunt who taught school in rural northwestern Massachusetts for 38 years, he was instrumental in establishing a fund in conjunction with Mary Lyon Foundation, to supplement the acquisition of books for the local school library and to encourage reading. John is widowed and has two married children and one grandchild living in Beverly, MA and Denver, CO.
Dr. Malhotra received her PhD and MA in Sociology from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. She also holds a Master's degree in International Affairs from Columbia University, and earned her BA from Barnard College, Columbia University. Ragini is a publicly engaged sociologist whose research centers on the politics of urban violence in childhood, gender, work, and everyday forms of criminalization and state surveillance. As an ethnographer of the Global South and urban India, Ragini has also published collaboratively on transnational feminized labor migration using quantitative methods. Both her research and teaching are motivated by her commitment to social justice and community-engagement. Before joining the USM faculty, Ragini taught in the Sociology Department at UMass-Amherst. As an educator, she emphasizes connections between theory and practice, drawing critically from her global experience working at the intersection of development, social policy, and human rights. In both India and the U.S, Ragini is politically active and engaged in community-level efforts to combat systemic power and state violence. Her teaching and scholar-activism have been recognized through awards and grants.
Dr. Malhotra is a North Star Collective Faculty Fellow.