Press Release
May 31, 2019

Governor receives lifetime achievement award from refugee community

Declaration of Utah being a “Welcoming State” earns governor recognition from refugee leaders; Conference promotes refugees in motion – upward career mobility

SALT LAKE CITY (May 31, 2019) - Today, the refugee community in Utah got their chance to tell Governor Gary R. Hebert thank you and give him a lifetime achievement award. Over the years, the governor has affirmed that Utah will be a welcoming state for refugees. He has continued to show his support during times when there has been uncertainty regarding accepting new refugees into the United States.

“I believe Utah is and always will be a shining city on a hill to the world on not only welcoming refugees but also accepting them into our community, respecting and understanding each other’s cultures, and celebrating the diversity they bring to our state,” said Governor Herbert. “I want all refugees who live in Utah to feel like this is their home and feel like they are part of this great state.”

The lifetime achievement award was presented to the governor by refugee community leadership representatives and the Governor’s Refugee Services Advisory Board at the Utah Refugee Services Office employment conference held in Salt Lake City.

“Over the last few years, the refugees in Utah, and the country, have gone through an emotional roller coaster over concerns of the global refugee situation,” said Pamela Atkinson, Refugee Services Advisory Board Member and advisor to Governor Herbert. “Through all this debate and discussion, our governor, who has always been a supporter of refugees, made the bold declaration that Utah will remain a welcoming state to refugees.”

Today’s refugee employment conference is a manifestation of the great strides being made by the state of Utah to integrate and support refugees as they work to build new lives for themselves and their families. The purpose of the conference is to introduce and engage Utah’s business community, refugee service providers and refugee community leaders in the Utah Refugee Employment Model. This proven model helps refugees obtain higher wage, entry level employment options and long-term upward career mobility.

“Calling Utah home means a lot to so many refugees. It gives me hope and gives hope for my children,” said Hafsa Abdikadir, a refugee from Somalia. “The governor’s words means so much to us. It shows to the world that we as refugees can be part of the community. I am able to become what I want to become.”

Abdikadir was a presenter at the conference and told her story about coming to Utah, adjusting to a new world, getting her education and now being a nurse at a local hospital. 

Utah’s Refugee Services Office is actively engaging with Utah’s business community to invest in short-term skills training to help refugees obtain family-sustaining employment. For more information about the Refugee Services Office, visit: