Board of Trustees

We are dedicated to making Cache Valley welcoming to all.


Jess Lucero, Board President

Jess is an Associate Professor of Social Work at USU where she is also the director of the Transforming Communities Institute, a community-engaged teaching and research institute. Jess’s professional background is in community organizing, violence prevention, and disaster response; her scholarly work focuses on how housing type, location, and access influence the life chances of vulnerable children and families. Jess is an active member of the Local Homeless Coordinating Council and serves on the Logan City Planning Commission. Jess’s involvement with the refugee community began in 2014 when she worked with a team of USU researchers and her students to assess the employment and educational needs of refugees in Utah. Since then, Jess has also researched best practices for serving refugees in domestic violence agencies and perceptions of health needs within the refugee community. Jess believes that building community is the answer to most problems in our society - this belief drives her work with CRIC and other social change efforts. Jess and her partner, Steve, have 3 daughters and enjoy skiing, watching USU Women’s sports, and swimming as a family.

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Randy Williams,Vice President

Randy is Fife Folklore Archives Curator and Oral History Specialist at Utah State University Library’s Special Collections & Archives and affiliated faculty with USU’s Folklore Program. Along with managing the world-renowned Fife Folklore Archives, she directs USU’s community-based fieldwork projects, bringing the voices of diverse people from the Intermountain West, many historically excluded, into the Archives. Recent projects include Voices from Drug Court, Election Reflections, and the Cache Valley Refugee Oral History Project. She is currently completing work on the Great Salt Lake Wetlands Project. Along with Elisaida Méndez, she received a Human Ties award for their work on the Latino/a Voices Project. With Professor Lisa Gabbert, she directed the 2015 and 2017 Library of Congress/USU Ethnographic Field School for Cultural Documentation. Williams is on the Board Directors of Utah Humanities, the Folklore Society of Utah, and the Cache Refugee and Immigrant Connection.

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Lorien Belton, Treasurer

Lorien’s roles at CRIC focus on finance, governance, and management. She also conducted a Utah-wide refugee needs assessment through USU, completed in 2015. Lorien is a collaborative group facilitator with the Community-Based Conservation Program at Utah State University in Logan. She has a bachelor’s in Earth Systems from Stanford University and a master's in Sociology of Natural Resources from USU. She facilitates five sage-grouse local working groups in Utah. In addition to natural resources work, Lorien works with a variety of USU departments on communication and strategic planning efforts.

Originally from Wyoming, she has lived in Utah since 2008. Prior to coming to Utah, she worked for Rare, an international nonprofit conservation organization in Arlington, Virginia, which focuses on making conservation efforts economically and socially viable for communities around the world. Lorien is also Treasurer for Cache Valley Unitarian Universalists.

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Nelda Ault-Dyslin, Secretary

Nelda was raised in the shadow of Old Main, she graduated from USU with a BA in American Studies, spent a summer in El Salvador with HELP International, and then struck out for the rolling hills of Kentucky. While studying at Western Kentucky University, she volunteered at the Bowling Green International Center, a small resettlement center originally founded in the 1990s to serve the Bosnian refugee community. After graduating with a MA in Folk Studies, she returned to her homeland and eventually became acquainted with the refugee communities that had grown in the time she’d been gone. She currently works as the Community Service Coordinator in the Val R. Christensen Service Center at USU. You can find her a couple times a week at CRIC’s walk-in hours, humming along to music while waiting on hold and practicing counting to ten in Karen or Tigrinya.

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Eduardo Ortiz

Eduardo Ortiz Ph.D. is a Senior Research Scientist at the Research and Training Division of the Center for Persons with Disabilities (CPD) at the College of Education of Utah State University (USU). Eduardo is also professor at Casagrande University of Ecuador, adjunct assistant professor at the Dept. of Sociology, Social Work, and Anthropology at USU, and Core Faculty of the Utah Regional Leadership Educational in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities URLEND program. He has been working more than 15 years on research, evaluation and training projects and programs at the CPD – USU in many different positions including Principal and Co-principal Investigator of many different projects and programs working with diverse multicultural populations at the national and international levels. As a Latino person, he has been very sensitive to include culturally and linguistically competent approaches for all minority diverse populations he had the opportunity and privilege to work with.

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Amanda Barrandey

Amanda received both her bachelors and masters degree in social work from Utah State University. She has been happily practicing as a social worker for 12+ years now serving individuals of all ages and diversities both in English and Spanish. After graduating with her masters in 2016, she has happily been practicing both as a therapist in the SAAVI office at Utah State University and as a medical/clinical social worker at Intermountain Homecare and Hospice . She very much enjoys serving others and looks forward to expanding her interest, knowledge, and experience in order to serve best. She is a proud and passionate advocate of social justice and equality. Because of this passion is why she is dedicated to serve at CRIC and is inspired and motivated by those individuals who have made her service a possibility at CRIC. Her most cherished role is being a mother of 3.

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Halima Ali

Halima is from Somalia, East Africa. She came to the United States in 1989, and has lived in Cache Valley ever since. Her husband is the director of the Logan City Environmental Department. Together they have five sons. Halima was a stay at home mom, and worked to raise her children while they were in the home. She attended USU for two years where she studied accounting and completed nursing aid courses at Bridgerland Technical College. Since 2014 she has been assisting refugees from Somalia settle in Cache County. She is very excited for the opportunity to serve on the CRIC board.

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Teri Painter

Teri is a retired Counselor from Mount Logan Middle School. She graduated from Utah State University with a BS in Special Education, and taught at Mt Logan for 20 years as a Special Educator. As the population in the Logan City School District became more diverse, she decided to become more involved with the more diverse students. She obtained her certification in English as a Second Language from California State University, Chico. She then decided to move into the area of counseling and obtained her MA in Counseling through USU. She continues to work with students in the Logan City School District through her affiliation with CRIC


Flora Shrode

Flora Shrode hails from Tennessee and moved with her husband to Logan, Utah in 2001. She worked as a librarian at USU until 2016 and retired after 28 years in academic libraries. Flora appreciates having time to pursue many interests and values opportunities to volunteer in the community. A long time supporter of CRIC, she looks forward to learning more in-depth about the local refugee and immigrant population and hopes to contribute to their well-being.


Chad Pemberton, Immigration Attorney

Chad is an immigration attorney based in Logan. He obtained his Bachelor’s degree from University of Utah and earned his law degree from Thomas Cooley Law School in Grand Rapid, Michigan. Chad is a dedicated immigrant advocate who brings significant experience in immigration law to CRIC. Chad currently also serves as the Utah Director for the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, Local 88 based in Phoenix. His work with the union has been focused on providing immigration assistance to union members and helping to protect workers from discrimination and abuse in the workplace.

CRIC Staff


Mackenzie Bowcutt, Community Outreach AmeriCorps VISTA

Kenzie Bowcutt is CRIC’s current full-time AmeriCorps VISTA. After spending 8 months in the Philippines, she came home to earn a Bachelor’s degree in International Studies from Utah State University. During her undergraduate degree, Kenzie interned with the U.S. State Department at the US Embassy in Manila, Philippines. Working in the Consular Section of the embassy, Kenzie found a passion for immigration. She loves speaking Tagalog with clients from the Philippines and is currently learning Spanish. Away from work, Kenzie enjoys being outside, playing/watching sports, sewing, or just spending time with family and friends.


Veronica Trujillo Smith, Volunteer Coordinator

Veronica works as our Volunteer Coordinator. She recruits, trains and manages all of our wonderful volunteers. She also oversees our volunteer programs making sure they are sufficiently staffed and continually improved. She engages with refugee and immigrant clientele daily, building relationships and connecting them to resources. As she does so, the tagline of Cache Refugee and Immigrant Connection is in her heart; Community for Everyone. She is anticipated to receive her Bachelor's degree in Social Work this spring. She is fluent in Spanish and loves any opportunity to speak the language. In her spare time she enjoys spending time with her family and finding new favorite restaurants in Logan.