But more than anything, our lives have been changed by our incredible new neighbors. We’re here to welcome them home.
meet our founder and executive director, Leonard Bagalwa
Leonard is a refugee from the Democratic Republic of Congo and the founder and Executive Director of Utah Valley Refugees.
Leonard lived in refugee camps in Malawi and Zimbabwe for more than three years before coming to the United States. He completed his undergraduate degree in Public and Community Health Education at Utah Valley University, where he also founded the UVU African Club, an organization that transformed the perception of Africa in the local community and state of Utah.
Leonard has over six years of experience working with refugees in Utah and has served on the boards of multiple non-profit organizations. He is committed to maximizing the positive impact he can make in the world to bless many people. He believes that his personal experiences and the work he does can empower people and transform lives.
Leonard is married to the beautiful Best Bagalwa, and they have four children—three girls and a boy.
Robert Cvetko, Board Chair
Frederick Axelgard, Board Vice Chair
Scott Bradford, Treasurer
Daniel Welch, Accountant
Lana Bailey, Family Alliance Coordinator
Lana has been a volunteer with Utah Valley Refugees since July 2018. She has loved meeting refugees from all over the world and learning from their resilience and optimism. As a student at BYU, she conducted research about women and children in Guguletu, South Africa. There she saw first-hand the plight and great needs of dislocated people. She is thrilled to be a part of an organization dedicated to helping refugees make a home in Utah County.
Mitonzi is a refugee from the Democratic Republic of Congo. Mitonzi lived in Salt Lake City initially, then moved to Utah County in 2018, where he received support from Utah Valley Refugees. He now serves on the board in an effort to help other refugees adjusting to life in Utah County. Mitonzi is married with ten children.