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2008 — Refugee Services Office Opens

20th Anniversary of the Utah Department of Workforce Services


In 2008, the Utah Refugee Services Office was formed as a result of recommendations of the Refugee Working Group, created by Governor Huntsman in collaboration with Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon to improve the Utah refugee resettlement program. An Executive Order also created a board of advisors for the office.

The mission of the Refugee Services Office is to facilitate the effective integration of refugees into their new Utah home. The goals for its first year included the creation of partnerships and new programs to serve refugees, the coordination of volunteer networks and expanding the capacity for refugee community groups to work with community members.


$854 million all-time high for UI Trust Fund. Currently 1,200 refugees arriving in Utah each year, two-year extended refugee case management implemented in 2009.
Gerald Brown (second from left), first director of the Refugee Services Office, James Whitaker (second from right), Deputy Director, and department staff at the 2008 Refugee Conference.
Attendees at the Refugee Conference in 2008.
YouthBlast Fair with Cassy Hahn and Debbie Nordfelt.

Casey Cameron with Derrek Parra at the council retreat.
Mary Pannunzio, Midvale manager, with book drive donations from staff.

Staff at the on-the-job training and internship fair.
Richfield Employment Center team in 2008.
Internal Audit team visit the top of the Salt Lake City and County Building in 2008. (Left to Right): Jane Gardner, Mary McConaughy, Greg Gardner, Leann Muranaka Hatfield and Kayl Smith.

Irina Pierpont getting ready for World Refugee Day.
Curt Stewart at the refugee job fair.

Carol Thrownhill and Brent Newren at the refugee job fair.
Melisa Stark and Anna Larsen working at a job fair in 2008.

  • First statewide online application for public assistance benefits goes live
  • The department undergoes an extensive process to move employment centers, operations and staff schedules to a four-day workweek as a result of the Governor’s initiative to save resources    
  • Utah is first state in the nation to pass and validate all UI tax, benefits and appeals populations for data validation of Utah’s ETA reports
  • Legislation passed requiring background checks to be completed for unregulated family, friend and neighbor (FFN) child care providers. Background check procedures were also implemented
  • Utah recognized for performance excellence in area of Appeals
  • Eligibility statewide document imaging completed
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