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Hayley Smith

Hayley Smith founded Lifting Hands International in 2016 after an eye-opening stint as an Arabic translator at Moria refugee camp in Lesvos, Greece. In 2009, Hayley earned a MA in Middle Eastern Studies from the University of London's School of Oriental and African Studies. Hayley has spent extensive time in Morocco, Egypt, and Jordan. Hayley taught Arabic in Boston Public Schools and is so proud of her former students. She is an #ISpeakArabic campaign ambassador and encourages young people to pursue Arabic. Hayley is interested in literature, film, World War I history, and Stranger Things. 

Hayley enjoys speaking to big or small groups alike about the current refugee crisis. Her presentations offer personal insight and official information based on her experience on the ground.


Walker Frahm
Chief Operations Officer

A PhD candidate in Sociology at the University of Washington, Walker has extensive academic training and field experience pertaining to nonprofit management, organizational strategy, international humanitarian aid, and data analysis. His doctoral dissertation is focused on nonprofits fighting human trafficking and corruption in Eastern Europe. Walker has an MA in Sociology from the University of Washington and a BA in Ethics, Politics, and Economics from Yale University. As often as possible, Walker spends time with his family reading novels out loud, hiking mountain peaks, or tossing a frisbee.


Patrick Petro
Development Director

Patrick has seven years of experience working as a development professional in the environmental, higher education, and arts and culture sectors. Before shifting his career focus to nonprofit fundraising, he spent fourteen years working in the areas of marketing and communication, art direction, graphic design, photography, and videography. Patrick is a graduate of DePauw University where he earned a BA in Studio Art. He enjoys traveling and camping with his family, cooking (and eating), creating and collecting art, playing drums, and listening to jazz and unusual electronic music.

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Carlissa Larsen
Co-Director of Utah Operations

Carlissa has a lifelong legacy of service, addressing hunger and refugee work. While studying at the College of Eastern Utah, she won the Val J. Halamandaris Caring Award for the most service to the college and community. She graduated from BYU in Geography. Carlissa has traveled extensively, teaching English in China and serving a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in the Philippines. Carlissa saw the potential that Utah has to help refugees around the world and started the Utah program for Lifting Hands International in 2016. She is married with three young children and loves spending time with her family on new adventures, like digging for fossils, or visiting new places.

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Traci Parson
Co-Director of Utah Operations

Traci has a degree in Speech-Language Pathology. She taught at a school for children with special needs and later at an early intervention program before becoming a full-time mom. Before taking on this role at LHI in 2017, Traci did a great amount of service at local food banks and Meals on Wheels. Her coordination role requires a tremendous amount of organizational skills, and she has excelled in helping LHI to quickly and effectively grow its collection network throughout the state of Utah. She likes to say, “We are sending more than just humanitarian aid. We are sending a message of love, hope, and peace.” She is married with 5 children and is a grandmother.


Tara Clavel
Director of LHI in Greece

Tara has a BA in Medicine from the University of Utrecht and an MA in International Public Health from the Free University of Amsterdam. Prior to her efforts in Greece, she worked in South Africa with disadvantaged youth and abused women and children; and she also spent time in Laos, where she worked to promote food and nutrition security. In Greece, she has volunteered helping refugee populations on Lesvos, and she spent time coordinating programs in a refugee camp near Athens. Before assuming the position of Director for LHI’s operations in northern Greece in the fall of 2019, Tara spent six months with LHI as a lead field coordinator. Her hobbies include reading, playing soccer, and drinking coffee!


Iona Turner
Assistant Director of LHI in Greece

Iona has a BA in International Development with Arabic from the University of Sussex. Her previous experience includes working as an education caseworker for African asylum seekers in Tel Aviv and as an intern in a refugee camp near Athens. Having arrived at LHI in January 2018, she founded and subsequently managed the Female Friendly Space until assuming the position of Assistant Director in the fall of 2019. She has also enjoyed working on the resident volunteer program, writing project documents, and cooking breakfast for everyone before the team meeting each week. Her interests include politics, playing trumpet, traveling, tortoises, and extreme ironing.


Jannis Hillebrand
Assistant Director of LHI in Greece

Jannis has a BA in Political Science, English, and Physical Education and an MA of Education from the University of Göttingen. His previous experience includes teaching in both the United States and Germany and advising on youth education and acting as a research and data analyst at the Institute for the Sociology of Sport. Jannis joined the LHI team in January 2019 as Education Manager, having previously volunteered at a different refugee camp in Greece. His interests include skiing, climbing, playing drums, traveling, and eating pretzels!