Press Release
June 2, 2023

Workforce Services names new Refugee Services Office director
Mario Kljajo stepping in to lead refugee resettlement for the State of Utah


SALT LAKE CITY (June 2, 2023) — The Department of Workforce Services has named Mario Kljajo as new director of the Refugee Services Office. Kljajo, a refugee from Bosnia who came to the U.S. in 1997, will step in to replace Asha Parekh, who has led Utah’s refugee program the last 9 years and has now accepted a position with the Salt Lake County’s District Attorney’s Office.

“Utah has seen unprecedented refugee resettlement following the emergency evacuations in Afghanistan and the war in Ukraine, and our team has worked hard to help them rebuild,” said Casey Cameron, Workforce Services executive director. “Mario’s background and expertise will be beneficial in helping new arrivals thrive and achieve long-term success as we continue to welcome refugees from around the world.”

Working with the department since 2010, Kljajo has held leadership roles within the Refugee Services, Eligibility and Workforce Development divisions. He currently leads the refugee employment team and is the Metro Employment Center manager. His experience as a refugee from Bosnia has given him a unique perspective and helped him forge strong connections within Utah’s refugee community. 

“I know how important it is to have the right resources and help when you’re building a new life as a refugee,” said Kljajo. “I’m grateful to the people who helped me along my journey. And I’m excited to work with the amazing Refugee Services team as we help the refugees in Utah.”

Kljajo attended Columbia College where he earned a bachelor’s degree in Business Management. 

There are 32,500,000 refugees worldwide. Utah welcomed 1,570 refugees in 2022 after resettling just 208 in 2021. About 1,200 are expected to be resettled in Utah this year. More information is at