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Utah Business

2019 30 Women To Watch Honorees

2019 30 Women To Watch Honorees

Utah has one of the largest gender wage gaps in the country, and it also ranks the lowest out of all 50 states for women holding positions of leadership in the workplace. But that hasn’t stopped the women in Utah from making waves and fighting toward success. Join us in celebrating the 2019 30 Women to Watch as they pave the way for the next generation of female entrepreneurs and for the future of women in business.

Abby Barraclough

General Counsel | Zagg Inc.

Abby Barraclough describes herself as a practical woman. “I was drawn to my profession out of a need to make a living,” she shares. “Engineering technology seemed like a solid undergraduate degree that would help me secure a good job.”

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Now, as general counsel for Zagg Inc., Ms. Barraclough has not only built the company’s legal department from the ground up, but she works to clear obstacles so her coworkers can focus on what they do best, including things like workplace equality. “Data continues to show that women do not fare as well as their male counterparts in terms of compensation,” she says, highlighting the unfortunate reality we face. “Raising awareness and maintaining focus are key to achieving equality in the workplace. The moment you take your eye off the ball, inequality will find its way back into an organization.”

Amy N. Fowler

Attorney | Fowler Venable Law
Councilwoman | Salt Lake City Council

Between being elected to the Salt Lake City Council, being named chair of the Redevelopment Agency, and leaving the public defender’s office to start her own law firm, it would seem like Amy N. Fowler barely has time to breathe. But everything she does, she does for a purpose. “I wanted to help people,” she says. “I wanted to be the voice of those who felt they didn’t have one.”

After winning the city council seat in 2017, Ms. Fowler now works with the state legislature and the governor on some of the state’s biggest projects, like the inland port, and serves on the National League of Cities’ Federal Advisory Committee on Public Safety and Crime Prevention. “As the only former public defender and current criminal defense attorney on the committee, I hope to bring a new perspective on how we can make a difference in helping people in the criminal justice system.”

Angela H. Brown

Publisher/Executive Editor | SLUG Magazine
Executive Director | Craft Lake City

Angela H. Brown has dedicated her entire career to cultivating and supporting Utah artisans. For the last two decades, she has been the publisher and executive editor of SLUG (Salt Lake UnderGround) Magazine, which she has taken from a small black and white zine with limited distribution and transformed it into a full-color magazine with a monthly distribution of 30,000 copies across the state of Utah.

In 2009, Ms. Brown launched the Craft Lake City® DIY Festival®, an alternative arts festival she bootstrapped from a 100 percent volunteer-run event into an up-and-coming nonprofit organization now employing seven part-time year round contractors and over 60 seasonal contractors. Ms. Brown is deeply passionate about Utah’s underground culture, as a leader of the alternative arts.

Becky Hawkins

CEO & Founding Partner | Method Studio

Becky Hawkins is an extremely motivated woman. “[I have] an inner desire to achieve at the highest level. I am extremely competitive and had the opportunity to be involved in a variety of competitive sports where that spirit has translated into my business endeavors,” she says. And that spirit has taken her far. Fierce and unafraid, Ms. Hawkins took her passion for interior design and translated it into creating spaces that enhance both community and life experience. “I loved the creativity in the design process and the idea of creating ‘place,’” she shares.

When Ms. Hawkins merged her design firm with the largest architectural firm in the state, she was the only female principal in a very male-dominated firm. And that’s why she sees herself as an asset. “Breaking through gender barriers in architecture continues to be important to me,” she says.

Christine Watson Mikell

CEO | Enyo Renewable Energy
Council Member | Cottonwood Heights City Council

A dynamic and recognized leader in the development of Utah’s renewable energy, Christine Watson Mikell is an engineer by education and an entrepreneur by practice. The developer of Utah’s first utility-scale wind farm in Spanish Fork and another in Monticello, she has advocated for Utah to be a leader in affordable, clean energy for the past decade. A founding board member of Utah Clean Energy, she currently serves as a member of the Cottonwood Heights City Council.

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Ms. Mikell is a graduate of Vanderbilt University and received her MBA from the University of Utah. And she strives for excellence in every aspect of her life, whether it’s developing renewable energy projects, serving the community as a city council member, or raising her family.

Emma E. Houston

Director of Diversity & Inclusion | Salt Lake County Government Mayor’s Office

Emma E. Houston is responsible for setting the tone of the Salt Lake County government. Appointed by Mayor Ben McAdams in 2016, she has spent the last three years redesigning county training to ensure that the diversity and talent in county government is not only respected but valued. “The rewarding aspects of my job are when differences are embraced and change occurs,” she says. And there’s nothing she looks forward to more than assisting in the change that will ensure inclusive and equitable practices are put in place for the future.

But Ms. Houston didn’t always have the confidence in herself that she does now, and she wishes her younger self could see the incredible woman she’s become. “Don’t dim my light in order to make others comfortable,” she advises her younger self. “Right now, in this moment, in this space that I’m in, I love me some Emma E. Houston. I recognize and celebrate my worth.”

Greta Anderson

Principal Architect | FFKR Architects

“I’ve loved buildings for so long, I don’t remember what initially sparked that,” says Greta Anderson, because she’s been pointing to mid-rise buildings and telling her father she would design buildings like that for as long as she can remember. “I’m one of the lucky few who heard her calling early in life.”

Ms. Anderson has accomplished a lot in her career as an architect, but she’s most proud of growing a design studio from being completely flat into one of the most profitable studios in the firm. And she sees her future as bright. “Finding the right company that allowed me to define and pursue the career path I wanted [really helped shape my career],” she says. And she looks forward to helping others do the same.

Hollie Pettersson, Ph.D.

Partner | Cicero Group

Dr. Hollie Pettersson’s first career aspirations were simple: she wanted to be a typist. But a friend told her she needed to think bigger. “As the first person in my family to attend college, I was clueless about my professional options,” she says. “But as I saw the world open up to me through education, I wanted to clear a path for others like me to know their options and do meaningful work.”

Now, at Cicero Group, Dr. Pettersson gets to work every day with people who care about the community. And she’s helping to improve the lives of students, families, and communities. “Amplifying the voices of other women is so much more rewarding than listening to one’s own voice,” she shares, and she’s excited to see what the next generation brings to the table.

Julia D. Kyte

Lawyer/Shareholder | Durham Jones & Pinegar

“I wish I had known at the beginning of my career that, through hard work and years of producing good product, I would end up at the top of my field,” says Julia D. Kyte. “I could have told my inner self not to worry.” Now, as a lawyer and shareholder with Durham Jones & Pinegar, she’s a unique voice at the firm and a powerful one in the courtroom.

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“I try to lead by example and act with integrity,” Ms. Kyte shares, and she takes that example from one of the many strong, female role models she’s had throughout her career. And she encourages others to, in turn, learn from her. “I encourage other women to absolutely follow their dreams and not put any limits on what they can achieve.”

Kathryn Waters

Vice President of Brand Marketing | Rakuten Marketing

An instrumental part of the team that brought Rakuten Marketing to Utah, Kathryn Waters is a leading strategist of digital marketing and growth. Responsible for launching new revenue streams, taking on temporary relocations to ensure company success, and negotiating terms and conditions of new acquisitions among her many accomplishments, she led the direction of Rakuten Marketing’s visual and written identity, as well as the company’s corporate culture and values.

Beyond her regular contributions to several local charities, Ms. Waters is deeply dedicated to the value of education and the relentless dedication of teachers. She regularly spends time helping in local classrooms, taking the opportunity to work with students and teachers.

Kimberly Christiansen

Interior Designer & Project Manager | Malouf

Before Kimberly Christiansen found Malouf, she was struggling in her career. “I was even considering leaving the industry and going back to school,” she says, despite the passion she’s always had for designing spaces and watching how it influences people. “To be honest, I didn’t know how hard it was going to be.” But then, she found an environment where she could be creative―an environment in which she could flourish.

Now, Ms. Christiansen is leading the new corporate campus construction, overseeing a team of 23 architects, 22 engineers, over 100 consultants, and more than 30 contractors. And she couldn’t be more excited. “Don’t be afraid to try a lot of different avenues in your industry,” she advises of other young women who might be questioning their career. “Don’t be afraid to explore!”

Krista Pappas

Head of Program Management | Pluralsight

“I’ve always gravitated towards solving hard problems,” says Krista Pappas. “At the age of 16 [when I was] pushing carts at Target, I spent my first day mapping out the path where I could pick up the most amount of carts by traveling the smallest distance at the best time of day.” And now, as the head of program management at Pluralsight, she applies those same strategies to coordinate her resources.

From building three teams from the ground up, to redesigning the CPQ system, and implementing the adoption of several key enterprise business applications all within the last two years, Ms. Pappas has no intention of slowing down.  “As odd as this might sound, failure has shaped my career,” she shares. “If I can learn to get comfortable with being uncomfortable, I will maximize my potential.”

Kristen Kenney

Broadcaster | Utah Jazz
Co-owner | Peak45

Portrait and wedding photography – Justin Hackworth

Kristen Kenney has always had a passion for television. “When I was a kid, there were two things I never left the house without: our giant VHS camera and my Umbro soccer shorts.” Now, all these years later, she’s one of the top broadcasters for the Utah Jazz.

Beyond her career as a broadcaster with the Jazz, Ms. Kenney is the co-owner of Peak45, one of the top three fitness studios in Salt Lake City, and the founder of Malaika for Life, a nonprofit that funds malaria treatment in Africa. “In 2009, I filmed a documentary in Africa. During the two-month trip, I contracted severe malaria and almost died. I was in the hospital for three days. When I paid my bill to leave, it was seven dollars. I couldn’t understand why a child would die every minute from malaria when the medication is affordable [by our standards].”

Krystal Guerra

VP of Marketing | Marketware

Krystal Guerra began her career working on the family business: farming. “I eventually started managing my own fruit stand,” she says, recounting her childhood. And since learning how to brand and market her family’s produce, she’s fallen in love with marketing.

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Working with Marketware for over four years now, Ms. Guerra has helped create the company’s marketing team, as well as designed a marketing process with branding and scalability in mind. Leading the company through two website overhauls and bridging a round of Series B funding, she has had an instrumental hand in helping the exponential growth of the company. And her biggest motivation? “Knowing that my parents immigrated to the United States so I could have access to greater opportunities,” she says. And she looks forward to using those opportunities to change the narrative of other Hispanics.

Kylee Champlin

Owner & CEO | ROOLEE

After taking over the apparel boutique she worked at in college, Kylee Champlin has since guided it through astonishing growth. Developing a nursing-friendly apparel line as well as a kids apparel line, Ms. Champlin is excited about the growth of the brand from her selection of the top on-trend styles.

But what Ms. Champlin is most proud of is the “A World of Sisters” initiative. Aimed at giving back to the community and encouraging women everywhere to uplift each other and band together as sisters, Ms. Champlin spearheads this social media movement. “I am passionate about women supporting each other as sisters and uplifting each other through acts of kindness,” she says.

K. Marie Kulbeth

Chief Operating Officer & General Counsel | SixFifty

“Yes, I’ve been mistaken for the receptionist, court reporter, or legal assistant a number of times,” says K. Marie Kulbeth. “When I’m at networking functions, people sometimes think my date is the lawyer and I’m his plus one.” But she doesn’t see these cases of mistaken identity as a liability―she sees them as an indicator of deeper problems regarding opportunities for women in law and in tech. And she’s working to change that by creating an example of a strong woman not just in law, but in tech, too.

Passionate about solving problems, Ms. Kulbeth works to explore the places were law and technology come together. “Through SixFifty, we are working to change the future of how the legal profession and technology work together. We are lawyers and engineers working together to make the law easier to navigate,” she says.

Lindee Nance

Vice President of Marketing & Advertising | Harmons Grocery

Portrait and wedding photography – Justin Hackworth

“I’ve always been a storyteller,” says Lindee Nance. “As far back as I can remember, I have been writing and telling stories. So marketing came naturally.” But food was always a passion of hers as well, so when the opportunity to merge the two loves in her life presented itself, she didn’t hesitate.

“I thought I was a foodie when I came on board, but I’ve learned so much along the way,” she says. After building a rock-solid team of professionals, Ms. Nance was instrumental in launching the eShop, an online grocery experience that extends Harmons’ in-store expertise. Carrying the physical world of grocery into an online space through imagery and description alone is difficult, but she didn’t back away from the challenge. “I’m proud that we haven’t compromised on customer experience by taking that part of the business online,” she says.

Liz Owens

Executive Director | The Utah Coalition Against Sexual Assault (UCASA)

Liz Owens has always had a deep interest in gender equity and inequality. “I feel moved to act by injustices in our community and in the world,” she says. Which has lead her directly to a career grounded in justice.

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Outside of her work with UCASA, Ms. Owens is a strong advocate for women, as well as women of color, having served on the board of directors at Planned Parenthood Association of Utah, Utah Pacific Islander Civic Engagement Coalition, and Journey of Hope, among many others. “My experience as a woman is indistinguishable from my experience as a woman of color,” she shares. And she advises others to be brave in their community engagement. “Volunteer for issues and show up for movements you may not be directly impacted by.”

Melanie DeLynne Davis, LCMHC, NCC

Owner & Clinical Director | Empath Healing & Wellness

Melanie DeLynne Davis has a talent for hearing others. “I often sought out people’s feelings, experiences, and stories,” she says. From the time she was a child until she became a young professional, she’s always been drawn to listening and connecting with others. Working in mental health and supporting others on their journey toward healing seemed a natural fit.

Now, as the owner and clinical director of Empath Healing & Wellness, she works to meet the needs of mental healthcare in a growing and diverse community. Most recently, she has also helped found The Black Clinicians, a collective of skilled and purpose-driven black therapists dedicated to creating awareness around mental health.

Melissa Niu

Cofounder & President | Parachut

Growing up with five brothers, Melissa Niu has never been one to question herself. Whether it was at side-yard ball or household chores, she had to work hard to keep up. So when it came to starting a business with her husband while becoming tech-savvy in a male-dominated industry, she didn’t give it a second thought.

“I’ve been a collegiate athlete, All-Pac 10 scholar, broadcaster for NBC, Color Commentator for Fox Sports, and a marketer for the Seattle Seahawks,” she says. And now, as owner and operator of her own company, she’s disrupting a $335 billion industry with the idea that you can access instead of own, experiencing life instead of letting the items you own determine your worth. And she’s working to continue innovating well into the future. “I don’t believe in retirement,” she says.

Michele Sauk

Vice President & Commercial Relationship Manager | US Bank

Michele Sauk has always been interested in money and numbers. “Out of college, I wanted to be a stockbroker,” she says. So she got her securities licenses and became a registered investment advisor. But when the lending market got busy, the bank asked her to switch gears. Now, not only is she a consistent quarterly top performer, but she was awarded the annual Legends of Possible award in 2018, an award given to the top 10 percent of US Bank employees across the country.

Outside of her career with US Bank, Ms. Sauk is also passionate about Junior Achievement and educating women on financial literacy. “I love going into the classroom and helping kids learn the difference between a want and a need, how communities function, and how businesses work in the marketplace,” she says.

Missy Wilson Larsen

Vice President, Corporate Communications | dōTERRA

“My career has been full of experiences that have naturally led to the next opportunity,” says Missy Wilson Larsen. With prior experience in government, business, and nonprofits, her breadth of expertise has led her to dōTERRA, working to spread the company’s success with the world. “There have been so many things that have shaped my career,” she says, “including my genetics, my upbringing, my education, and my experiences.”

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Outside of her work with doTERRA, Ms. Larsen is also the cofounder of the Utah Refugee Connection, a way for people to connect public, private, and nonprofit resources leading to solutions for refugee self-sufficiency.

Morgan Lyon Cotti

Associate Director | Hinckley Institute of Politics

“A passion for politics is in my blood,” says Morgan Lyon Cotti. “I wanted a career where I could be engaged in my community and government.” Now, as the associate director of the Hinckley Institute of Politics at the University of Utah, she influences her community and the futures of young women. “I know there are many female students who watch me to see how I handle my career and other responsibilities. I strive to ensure they see a positive image. It doesn’t matter if it is difficult being the only woman in the room or if I feel I have to work harder to prove myself. That can also open doorways.” Ms. Cotti also serves on the board of Real Women Run, a nonpartisan group that works to encourage women to run for office and engage in politics.

Nicole M. Deforge

Attorney | Fabian Vancott

“I had no choice,” Nicole M. Deforge says, describing her journey into law. “My mother said it was this or accounting. And I wasn’t serious enough to be an accountant.” But all joking aside, Ms. Deforge is a powerful attorney. Serving on the board of directors for Fabian Vancott, she enjoys helping others solve problems. “It is rewarding to be able to distill complex issues down to something manageable and understandable. I love the challenge and variety of legal practice,” she says.

Ms. Deforge is proud of her role as a female attorney in Utah, despite low retention rates and statistics. “I am proud to be one of the few, but would certainly prefer to be one of the many,” she says. And she hopes to see that change soon. “I hope young women will learn that you can succeed without sacrificing your principles, your integrity, or your family.”

Rachael Hunt Stockham

Director of Marketing & Business Development | Cache Valley Electric Company

“I believe in hard work, integrity, loyalty, and dedication,” says Rachael Hunt Stockam. “I am not above or below any task.” And her leadership style is quickly producing results. After creating a global marketing strategy, working to revamp all company websites, and utilizing every channel to reach customers directly, she’s just getting started. But what Ms. Stockham enjoys most are the people she works with. “The finest folks I have ever had the pleasure of working with,” she says of her team.

In the future, Ms. Stockham looks forward to the opportunity to one day be an executive, helping to lead and shape an organization. And she hopes to do that at Cache Valley Electric Company.

Sandra Fan

Founder & CEO | Brilliant Minds Group

“I’ve always noticed I’m extremely lucky when it comes to attracting the right people at the right place at the right time,” says Sandra Fan. “[But,] I never realized that I could create a career out of networking.” Since launching the Brilliant Minds Group in 2017, Ms. Fan has been disrupting, innovating, and connecting in a way that others have failed. And she looks forward to duplicating the unique community she’s created here in other states.

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“I’m most proud of coming to the United States all by myself, not knowing how things will unfold or how I will make a living,” she says. And in less than a year, she’s built a business from the ground up and turned it into a six-figure income business.

Tina M. Larson

Chief Operating Officer | Recursion Pharmaceuticals

Tina M. Larson finds the most rewarding part of her job knowing that whatever she’s tackling each day has a positive impact on someone’s life. Since moving to Utah last year to join Recursion, she has helped the company move their headquarters to downtown Salt Lake City; announced the opening of a new biotech incubator space; and helped motivate scientists, engineers, and new team members to transform the way new drugs are discovered and developed.

“My favorite events at work are when a patient graciously tells us firsthand how a disease has impacted their life and what new treatment would mean to them,” says Ms. Larson. She looks forward to continuing that same journey while inspiring other women in STEM.

Tobi Gale Roberts

CEO | City Creek Mortgage

Tobi Gale Roberts works hard to ensure her clients are confident and knowledgeable about their loans and mortgages. Tightening every aspect of the mortgage experience, the business she started with her husband has shortened the typical loan process from 30 days to only 12. “We made mortgages easy and affordable,” she says, and she’s immensely proud of how that’s helped her clients gain confidence in buying homes.

“Growing up with very limited resources, I understand that families have more important things to spend their money on than over-compensated loan officers,” says Ms. Roberts. “I enjoy saving hard-working families money.” And she looks forward to continue building a platform where she can inspire people to envision their most beautiful lives and make that a reality.

Zhenni Liu

Investor | Peterson Ventures

Zhenni Liu has been drawn to technology since she was young. Growing up in Silicon Valley, and then returning to San Francisco after college, she saw her career path clearly. “As a venture investor, a big part of my job is dreaming about the future,” she says. And since she’s entered the world of startups, she knew that was an industry she wanted to pursue.

“Being a female venture capitalist is challenging, especially in Utah where the ecosystem is smaller and less developed than Silicon Valley,” says Ms. Liu. However, she’s been meeting more and more local women who are interested in getting involved. “We’re on the path to a more diverse and inclusive community, and I’m excited to be a part of this movement.”

Photographs for this piece were shot by Justin Hackworth.

Lindsay Bicknell is the project coordinator for Utah Business magazine. A native of Cincinnati, Ohio, she graduated from Miami University of Oxford with a degree in communications. She has a background in television, print, and web media, as well as public relations and event planning. As a transplant to Salt Lake City, she can't get enough of the mountains and loves snowboarding.