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 2021-2022 Board Members are Eyad Alsamhan, Leah Blake, Alea Beeston, Kekai Cram, Kimberly Farnsworth, Morgan Farnsworth, Tanner Hafen, Anastasia Jespersen, Rachel Johnson, Nicholas Loosle, Brock Mason, Hannah Moffat, Alec Monson, Dillan Passmore, Nathan Phair, Marianna Richardson, and Madison Wilson.
Judge Eyad Alsamhan is one of the youngest judges in the history of Jordan. Born in Blue City [Zarqa], Jordan, Judge Alsamhan was inspired by his father’s and mother’s roles in reshaping the legislative scene in Jordan. From their influences, he took an interest in law at an early age and later specialized in general civil jurisdiction. He also has experience deciding and mediating complex, high-stakes cases. In addition to his expertise in law, Judge Alsamhan also generates Artificial intelligence with applications in judiciary settings.
Judge Alsamhan enjoyed sponsorship by the Jordanian Royal Majesty in a program to qualify judges from the bachelor’s level (the Future Judges program). During his first master’s degree in Intellectual property law at University of Jordan, he received a student exchange grant from the European Union for a master’s degree in Intellectual property law to study at Adam Mickiewicz University in Poland. As the judge is fluent in many languages including Arabic, English, French, with high proficiency in Japanese and Polish, he has participated in several international conferences in Jordan, Turkey, London, Germany, Poland, Hungary and the Maldives. He has International experience researching and applying cutting edge issues in rule of law, which he has published in 13 articles, found in a number of scientific journals. He also contributed a textbook chapter in constitutional law, as well as a book relating to judiciary ethics. The young judge had the opportunity to exchange legal experiences with international organizations, the most recent of which was the Max Planck Foundation for International Peace and the Rule of Law. Finally, the Jordanian Judicial Council hired Mr. Alsamhan to contribute to the justice facility’s service in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in response to the royal directives in supplying the justice facility with scientifically and practically qualified judges at their highest levels.
Now, Judge Alsamhan is a LLM student at Brigham Young University in the USA.
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.
After studying abroad in China in 2018, Alea decided to apply to BYU Law School to learn more about the interaction of government and religion, and she is very excited to work with the International Center for Law and Religion Studies doing just that! Alea graduated alongside the class of Covid-19 from Brigham Young University in the spring of 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in American Studies and double minors in Chinese and Family Life. When she’s not studying for classes, Alea loves listening to music, exploring the visual arts and being outdoors.
Kekai (Kiki) Gonsalves Cram grew up on the island of Kaua’i, Hawai’i. She and her husband, Joshua, moved to Utah from their island home in pursuit of educational opportunities. She graduated from BYU with a degree in English teaching in 2020. During her undergraduate studies, Kiki served as the president of the BYU Council of Teachers of English. She served in the Chile Santiago West Mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She loves talking story with her loved ones, hiking, sitting at the beach, writing Instagram captions, and reading.
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.
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.
Anastasia Jespersen graduated from George Mason University with B.S. in accounting and from BYU with a Master of Public Administration. As she and her husband, Paul, have raised their family, she has had the privilege to use her education to work in local and state government and non-profit organizations serving each community they have called home. She is attending BYU Law School to expand her capacity to help others. Anastasia is grateful for the opportunity to work with the ICLRS. She believes that freedom of religion is a fundamental right and with that right comes the responsibility to protect that freedom for all who enjoy it and seek to extend that freedom to those who do not.
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.
Nicholas Loosle grew up living overseas in Latin America. Nicholas graduated with his bachelor’s degree in Political Science with a focus on foreign affairs from Brigham Young University-Idaho in 2019. Nicholas’s experience living internationally created a deep interest in international law, and he plans to pursue this field in practice. He is excited to work with the Center this summer and work on religious freedom issues in Latin America. Guatemala has a special place in his heart, and he is excited to work with the Church there. He enjoys running, hiking, and photography in his free time. And once upon a time he and his wife enjoyed travel.
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.
Dillan was born and raised in Rigby, Idaho. After graduating from high school, he served as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Baltimore, Maryland. Since then, he has worked as a ranch hand, sawmill operator, and data consultant. He graduated from Utah State University with degrees in journalism and political science. He chose to come to J. Reuben Clark Law School because of his belief that legal advocates are essential actors in any stable and well-ordered society. When not in the library, he enjoys backpacking, flying drones, and playing chess.
Nathan Phair grew up in the California Bay Area. He graduated from BYU magna cum laude and with university honors with a degree in history and then earned a master’s degree from Yale in European Studies. His research as an undergraduate and master’s student focused on the construction of Catholic religious identity in the wake of the Protestant Reformation. Nathan served his mission in the Dominican Republic, Santo Domingo East Mission and is excited to return to the region, even if only virtually, with the Center. Nathan loves to read, write, edit, hike, and spend time with his wife and son.
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.
Madison Wilson grew up in southern Maryland. She recently graduated from BYU with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and a minor in teaching English to speakers of other languages (TESOL). During her undergrad, she developed a passion for policy and legislative processes, seeking to become an advocate for those who may not have a voice. She also completed a study abroad at the BYU Jerusalem Center where her passion for learning about other religions and cultures grew. She is excited for this opportunity to work with the Center in Johannesburg, South Africa, and Provo, Utah, to combine her passions and interests. In her free time, Madison enjoys spending time with family, going out to dinner, playing games, and reading.