In the realm of promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) within the legal community, few individuals have made as significant an impact as Kristen Olsen. As co-president of the Utah Center for Legal Inclusion (UCLI), Kristen’s dedication, leadership, and innovative thinking have played a pivotal role in shaping the organization’s mission and success.
The idea behind UCLI emerged from a collaborative effort among Kristen Olsen and her colleagues Jesse Nix and Melinda Bowen, as the group recognized the need for an independent entity dedicated to pursuing DEI initiatives with a more focused and coordinated approach. Thus, the concept of UCLI was born, with the intent to address DEI efforts across the Utah legal community.
Melinda Bowen, UCLI co-president, reflects on her memories with Kristen at the outset of this passion project: “When we had our first big board meeting at the Law and Justice Center, I remember feeling like we had reached the point where things were going to start happening. We were still talking through ideas, but it felt like UCLI had become a reality, and I believe Kristen and I both got a little emotional sitting with the group of people who cared deeply about DEI and who were going to help make the vision come to life.”
Kristen’s involvement as co-president brought a wealth of expertise and a passion for DEI. Her responsibilities within UCLI spanned a wide spectrum, showcasing her commitment to the organization’s success. From enlisting the initial board members and formulating the organization’s structure to developing programs, supervising staff, addressing compliance issues, and volunteering at events, Kristen’s dedication knew no bounds. Notably, many of UCLI’s pioneering programs, such as the certification program, were conceived through Kristen’s innovative thinking.
Justice Christina Durham conveyed, “Kristen, it is a challenge to articulate the depth of gratitude our community holds for you. Despite your youth, your legacy has already extended significantly.” Similarly, Justice Paige Peterson remarked, “Wherever your path takes you, you bring about positive change within your community, uplift those around you, demonstrate diligent perseverance, and create a lasting impact.
“Kristen is a wonderful friend in addition to being a great colleague. Every time I talk to her, I feel motivated to keep working hard and pursuing goals, for myself and for UCLI. She is genuine and honest, and she allows other people to be the same. She has great passion for DEI and shares it openly,” said Melinda Bowen. Melinda’s heartfelt words demonstrate Kristen’s authenticity and her ability to inspire those around her to strive for excellence.
Kristen Olsen’s co-presidency at UCLI stands as a testament to her exceptional contributions to the advancement of diversity, equity, and inclusion within the legal profession. Her visionary leadership, innovative thinking, and unwavering dedication have propelled UCLI’s mission forward, creating a lasting legacy that continues to shape the Utah legal community’s landscape. Kristen’s impact as a trailblazer and advocate for positive change serves as an inspiration for all those who seek to foster a more inclusive and equitable future. As she and her family pursue new opportunities in another state, we wish her the best and thank her for her incredible service to UCLI, to Utah, and to the legal profession.