John D. Purnell, Founder

John Purnell is responsible for the initial conceptualization and overall program strategy for the Refugee Action Network. He brings a very global background with over 25 years of experience in Sales, Marketing and Business Development.  Mr. Purnell has frequently worked to establish, build, and develop successful small start-ups, as well as driving marketing & indirect channel initiatives for major global corporations such as Microsoft, Intel, Bose Electronics and WordPerfect Corporation.  He has specialized in building indirect sales channels, strategic alliances and licensing Intellectual Property.  The scope of his Business Development background ranges from national to international to global.  Mr. Purnell has a lifetime of international experience, being stationed in diverse regions of the world, including: The United States, Canada, Brazil, Portugal, The Netherlands, Taiwan and Pakistan. Early in his career, Mr. Purnell gained experience in the nonprofit sector as a Regional Executive Director for the Utah Chapter of the American Cancer Society. Mr. Purnell studied at Utah Valley University and Brigham Young University where he earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Psychology, with a Minor in Portuguese.  He speaks English natively, Portuguese fluently, and has limited fluency in Spanish, French & Mandarin Chinese.  He has a strong commitment to the development of a global community of culture, charity and commerce.

Cassandra Eggertsen, Executive Director

Cassandra Southam is a mother of three, a coordinator for the Utah Marriage Commission, a facilitator for the Strengthening Families Program, the director of Passport 2 Love and currently serves on the board of directors for the Refugee Action Network. Cassandra also has a special interest in tribal leadership and has traveled to “the bush” in Kenya, Africa. She has researched the Maasai way of life and has gathered data on their unique tribal leadership roles. She is passionate about helping the Maasai women learn to stay in school and stand up against harmful traditions. Four years ago, Cassandra fell victim to an auto accident that nearly killed her. This near-death experience and second chance at life gave her a new perspective on what it means to be a human being, not a human doing. If you meet Cassandra she will tell you that we are all equally valuable and important.  We are all children of God…… and that is ENOUGH. She would give you the following advice: Listen to what others say without anticipating. Sit without waiting. Get out of your comfort zone and let yourself just BE, without judging or succumbing to expectation.

David Purnell, Board Member

David has a diverse background with experience practicing law in Idaho, Texas, and Utah.  He has worked in immigration, oil & gas, clean energy, agriculture, domestic and international business.  He practiced immigration law over the course of many years, and has assisted immigrants and refugees to legally enter the United States.

He taught agricultural law and business organizations as a Graduate Teaching Assistant to the Dean of the Law School at the University of Arkansas, as an Adjunct Professor at Brigham Young University, and as an Assistant Professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He has a degree in International Relations, and a Law degree from Brigham Young University, and an LL.M. from the University of Arkansas.

He owned and operated small business ventures and spent several years in government service, including clerking for Senator Hatch in the US Senate and as a Policy Analyst with the California State government.

He has a served on the boards of multiple non-profit organizations and has provided related legal counsel. He has a global perspective, having lived in five countries around the world. He is committed to maximizing the positive impact he can make on the world to bless many individual lives.

Lars Eggertsen, Board Member

Lars Eggertsen has a Bachelors Degree in Family Science from Brigham Young University, a Masters in Social Work from Loma Linda University, and a Doctorate in Social Work from the University of Utah. He has worked with a variety of populations in various aspects of social work practice. His primary areas of emphasis are social policy, refugees, child welfare, and international social work. Currently, Lars is the MSW Program Director and teaches full-time in the social work program at Utah Valley University.

James Ayuen, Board Member

Brad Harris, Board Member

Bradley D. Harris (born 1956) is a professor of recreational management with special assignments connected to the Nonprofit Management Minor at Brigham Young University (BYU) who previously worked for 22 years as a professional scouter. He also is the author of the book Trails of Testimony: Bringing Young Men to Christ.

As a young man, Harris served a mission in Colorado for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). He has a master’s degree in public administration from BYU.

Among other leadership posts in Boy Scouts of America, Harris served as District Executive in Eugene, Oregon; senior district executive in Walnut Creek, California; and Field Director in Denver, Colorado. He worked for five years at the National Council of the Boy Scouts of America, where he helped create the Venturing program. He served as a member of the Young Men General Board from February 2006 until April 2009. In the LDS Church he has also been a Varsity Coach, Venturing Crew Advisor, Stake Young Men President, bishop, and a member of a stake presidency.

Fred Roberts, Board Member

Fred J Roberts, in association with Refugee Action Network, initiated a host family network with like-minded neighbors, to engage with the needs of refugees in Utah County. It has been a wonderfully, enlarging experience for us all. We began with a desire to help others and marvel at the blessing it has been our lives.

He works for Advanced Health Care as an administrator of Aspen Ridge of Utah Valley, a short term skilled nursing facility in Orem. Following graduation from BYU in Business Finance he co-owned and operated a row crop farm (Potatoes, Onions, Peppermint, Sugar Beets, etc.) in Eastern Oregon for 25 years. He served on numerous local, state, and national commodity associations, boards and commissions. He and his wife, Mary are the parents of nine children.

He served an LDS mission in England and has lived a life of community and church service. He has served in numerous church leadership positions giving him broad experience with people from many different cultures and socioeconomic backgrounds.