The International Center for Law and Religion Studies is pleased to announce the Student Management Board for 2020-2021. Members of the Board are chosen based on their interest in law and religion and their skills in writing, research, editing, and languages. Throughout the school year Board Members participate in research, writing and editing projects, conferences, and other assignments with the Center.
The 2020-2021 Board Members are continuing members Joseph Castro, Erin Cranor, Christopher Fore, John Geilman, Rhett Hunt, Andrew Navarro and new members Reece Barker, Leah Blake, Jaden Cowdin, Kimberley Farnsworth, Morgan Farnsworth, Tanner Hafen, Rachel Johnson, Brock Mason, Jordan Phair, Kody Richardson, Marianna Richardson, Jui-Chieh Tsai, Abigail Wadley Brown, and Tom Withers.
Reece Barker grew up in the southern Indiana town of New Albany and spent his childhood playing basketball. He graduated with a degree in accounting from Brigham Young University—Idaho in 2019. While at BYU-Idaho he interned in the tax department at Extra Space Storage in Cottonwood Heights, Utah. Before school, he served in the Ghana Kumasi Mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Reece’s interest in religious liberty issues stems from being a teaching assistant for the class Issues in Social Science: Religious Freedom. His interest continued as he worked on updating the taxation chapters of the treatise Religious Organizations and the Law as a Summer Research Fellow and in his work as a Legal Intern at Schaerr Jaffe where he has worked on religious liberty cases before the U.S. Supreme Court and other U.S. courts of last resort. Reece is in his second year of law school and is an Associate Editor on the BYU Law Review and a member of the BYU Moot Court Team. He met and married his wife, Adrianna, while they were students at BYU-Idaho. He loves visiting new places with his wife, watching and playing basketball, and reading history and current events.
Leah Blake was born and raised in Dallas, Texas. She studied at BYU for her undergrad, earning a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics Education. She taught algebra 1 for five years in a middle school and high school before deciding to change careers and go to law school. Her interest in law and religion began when she served a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Indonesia. That experience taught her the important role that religious freedom plays in people’s lives. When Leah is not working or studying, she enjoys sewing, cheering on Dallas sports teams, and spending time with her family and friends.
Joseph Castro is a family man, comic book fan, and prospective tax attorney (more or less in that order). He grew up in both Levittown, NY and Rexburg, ID before ultimately graduating high school in Ventura, CA. Joseph then served a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Manchester, England from 2012 to 2014. A conversation on the return flight from England inspired Joseph to pursue a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Brigham Young University. As an undergraduate, Joseph entered an essay competition with a research paper on the history of religious freedom, which sparked off an interest that would eventually lead him to the Center. As an undergraduate at BYU, Joseph met and married his wife, Mary. Together they have one daughter. When time allows, they enjoy playing music and reading together. Joseph also enjoys superhero comic books, movies, and TV, and playing piano.
Jaden is thrilled to be a part of the management board for the ICLRS. This organization backs one of the crucial protections in our country, religious freedom. Jaden has a passion for legal innovation, which permeates into his involvement with ICLRS. Religious freedom protections routinely require innovative thinking and critical inquiries. He hopes to bring his experience with the Center as a research fellow and other experience to further the goals of ICLRS. Jaden is a second-year law student preparing to practice corporate and technology law.
Erin Cranor and her husband Bud raised their four children in Las Vegas, Nevada. Just prior to law school, Erin was a trustee of the Clark County School District for more than six years. As an elected official, Erin enjoyed developing social justice policy, including policies concerning immigration, disproportionality, sexual orientation, gender identity, and religious freedom. She looks forward to a career in the law around these issues. Prior to serving on the school board, Erin was a technical writer for Boys & Girls Clubs and other youth development organizations. Erin is from Pocatello, Idaho, and served a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Athens, Greece. Erin served as a Student Research Fellow for the International Center for Law and Religion Studies in 2018 and completed an externship with the Office of General Counsel for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City. She now serves as a member of the Management Board for the Center and has accepted a position as a law clerk with the Office of General Counsel for Brigham Young University.
Kimberley’s family lives in New Mexico, though she spent most of her life moving around in a military family. She received a Bachelor of Music from BYU in Piano Performance, and worked for years as a studio teacher and performer. Kimberley served a mission in the beautiful coastal areas of Concepción, Chile and enjoyed brushing up on her Spanish skills with a crime victims clinic this past summer. As an undergraduate, Kimberley frequently attended BYU Law’s religious freedom lectures, which inspired a desire to use her skills to protect faith and human dignity. Kimberley continues to enjoy her undergraduate degree through playing piano, composing, oil-painting, and listening to jazz.
An avid learner and mother of two boys, Morgan Farnsworth completed her undergraduate studies at BYU in Political Science and Russian. During Morgan’s time as a missionary in Moscow, Russia, the government made changes to proselyting laws that effectively outlawed missionary work. This sparked her interest in religious freedom and her desire to help achieve freedom of religion or belief for everyone, everywhere. Morgan was selected as the Center’s 2020 Summer Fellow to Russia and has worked with the Center on a number of religious freedom analyses in the post-Soviet region.
Christopher Fore is a current BYU Law student from South Carolina. Prior to attending law school, Christopher studied Portuguese at BYU. He first learned Portuguese as a missionary in the Brazil Recife Mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Some of his work experiences include with the federal government, volunteering for the Vatican, and working for the Center on issues of national security and religious freedom. Christopher studies 15 languages and loves to travel. He decided to get involved on religious liberty because of his strong belief that each person should be able to worship as they choose.
The oldest of seven children, John Geilman was raised in Draper, Utah. He majored in Political Science at Brigham Young University, graduating with honors in 2018. John has worked for the Salt Lake City Office of General Counsel for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Office of General Counsel for Brigham Young University, and the Houston law firm Vinson & Elkins. His highlight of his time with the International Center was updating the treatise Religious Organizations and the Law with Professor Cole Durham and Professor Bob Smith. John served a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Utica, New York from 2013-2015. On his mission he saw firsthand the importance of religion in communities, which influenced his decision to attend law school. When he isn’t studying, John enjoys spending time with his family, especially his wife and one year old son, playing basketball, woodcarving, and landscaping.
Tanner Hafen was born and raised in St. George, Utah. After serving a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in western Canada, Tanner attended Brigham Young University where he studied Sociology. He is currently a second-year law student at BYU Law School. Though a lifelong Utahn and Latter-day Saint, Tanner has always been fascinated by other places and peoples. He has always found enormous good in the faiths and traditions of others. He hopes to foster understanding, cooperation, and respect throughout his life and career. Tanner also loves art and architecture, science fiction, world travel, and knows entirely too much Star Wars trivia. Tanner is married to the incredible Rachel, an arts educator and his best friend.
Rhett Hunt was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, but moved around while growing up. After serving a mission of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Moscow, Russia, Rhett decided to major in Russian and then go to law school. While serving his mission, he was surprised that the religious freedom he loved and enjoyed in the United States was threatened in Russia. Those experiences in Russia motivated him to get involved with the BYU Law International Center for Law and Religion Studies. In his free time, Rhett enjoys reading books, playing board games, and eating good food.
Rachel spent her childhood in the Philippines and Argentina before her family moved to Hobbs, New Mexico, where she graduated from high school. She completed her bachelor’s degree at Fordham University in humanitarian studies and communications & culture. Her interest in religious freedom issues began while living in Argentina as she observed the relationship between the state and religious groups during the 2007 presidential election. She worked as a summer research fellow with the Center after her first year of law school. In her free time, Rachel collects vinyl records and runs a pop culture blog.
Brock Mason was largely raised in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Brock earned a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from BYU and a master of philosophy from Fordham University, where he is also currently working on his Ph.D. Brock attended NYU Law before returning to BYU as a Wheatley Graduate Fellow, later attending BYU Law. Brock taught as an adjunct professor at BYU from 2016-2019 and worked for the Center as a summer research fellow this past summer. Brock also worked as a judicial intern for Justice Thomas R. Lee on the Utah Supreme Court. Brock and his wife, Jessica, served as church service missionaries in New York running the Pathway program, where he also taught institute classes. Brock has been interested in religious freedom for as long as he can remember, but became interested in the topic academically during graduate school as he saw related topics popping up in political philosophy. He is writing his dissertation on whether religious beliefs should be allowed in public dialogue and whether the public square should be entirely secular or void of religious content. Brock and Jessica have two children and enjoy spending time with them, especially hiking, visiting friends and family, and reading good books.
Andrew Navarro was born and raised in Miami, Florida. He received a Bachelor of Arts in History at Harvard in 2013. Andrew has worked in various fields, such as the head translator for the Romney for President campaign in 2012; as a Financial Analyst in the Bay Area; and the CFO of a non-profit. He served his mission in the California Oakland-San Francisco mission in 2008-2010 and has always been interested in religious freedom. He enjoys spending time with his wife and child, running, and learning new skills.
The second of five children, Jordan Phair grew up in Pleasant Hill, California. He majored in genetics at Brigham Young University, graduating in 2018. Jordan spent a semester at the BYU Jerusalem Center, studying religion and local history. He is currently a second-year law student and looks fondly on last summer working with the Center in Johannesburg, South Africa and Provo. He served a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Eugene, Oregon from 2012-2014. Both his mission and his time at Jerusalem gave him an abiding respect for the variety of religious thought and experience in the world. Jordan enjoys spending time with his family and friends, reading a good book, and playing the piano.
Kody was born and raised in Mesa, Arizona. He majored in aeronautical management technology at Arizona State University and obtained his private pilot certificate while there. Kody served a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Santiago, Chile. Since he was a child, Kody has always had a passion for his country. As he became older, that passion expanded to include a strong interest in the proper role of government and the U.S. Constitution. It also grew to include a robust desire to protect religious freedom for all people. As he listened to leaders of his church and others speak on the importance of religious freedom, Kody became resolutely determined to make a difference in his country and the world by supporting religious freedom in any way he could. He has been involved at ICLRS since his first year of law school, and has considered it a fantastic opportunity of service and learning. Kody is excited to continue his pursuits to defend religious freedom after he graduates from law school and is grateful for the foundation the Center has helped him form.
Marianna was raised in the New York City area. She received a Bachelor of Arts from BYU in English Literature, an Master of Science in special education from Johns Hopkins University, and an EdD from Seattle Pacific University in curriculum and instruction doing research in cross-cultural motivation. She has taught at BYU as an adjunct professor and is currently serving as Director of Communications for the G20 Interfaith Forum. Marianna is married to Steve Richardson and has 12 children and 29 grandchildren. She and her husband served presiding over the Brazil Sao Paulo South Mission from 2008-2011.
Jui-Chieh Tsai was raised in Taiwan and served a mission in Salt Lake City, Utah. After his mission, he studied law in Taiwan and earned two law degrees (Bachelor of Law/LLB & Master of Law/LLM). He pursued a second master’s degree (LLM) at BYU Law. He worked for a multinational company in Los Angeles, California, and helped the company manage its Chinese legal operation under the general counsel’s guidance. Jui-Chieh Tsai is currently pursuing a J.D degree at BYU Law and is interested in religious freedom because China has many issues regarding religious freedom. He wants to contribute his knowledge in Chinese law in the field of religious freedom. Jui-Chieh Tsai enjoys hiking, watching movies and traveling with his family.
Tom Withers was born in London and spent much of his childhood in Scotland before moving to Idaho for high school. Tom served an LDS mission which was cut short due to illness. Soon after returning home, Tom met and married his wife Courtney. They have been happily married for 10 years and are expecting their fourth daughter in April. Before starting college, Tom ran a small trucking company headquartered in Idaho Falls for two years. During this experience he discovered a passion for administration and an uncommon love of paperwork that compelled him to go to law school. Tom studied sociology at BYU-Idaho with an emphasis on statistics and criminology before attending the J. Reuben Clark Law School at BYU. More…