2019 40 Under 40 Honorees
For many of our Forty Under 40 honorees, the first step they took into their careers was when the Great Recession hit. Thrown into a fragile job market and an economic decline, these honorees were forced to learn to swim or risk sinking to the bottom. Now, years and countless accomplishments later, all 40 of our honorees have learned to do more than swim. They’re innovating the future of the business landscape in Utah while building communities that will inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs. Find event photos of our honorees here.
AJ Boldan, 39
President & General Manager | University of Utah Hockey
After joining the University of Utah Hockey team in 2007, AJ Boldan has worked diligently to grow and guide the team to success. Starting as a player and a University of Utah student, he quickly took over the team as general manager in 2008. Leading the team to a comeback after back-to-back losing seasons, Mr. Boldan quickly proved himself more than a leader. Securing bids for the 2014 PAC-8 Championships, the 2015 ACHA Division 2 National Championships, and democratizing the broadcasting of college hockey, Mr. Boldan even executed Utah’s move to Division 1 for the ACHA 2016-2017 season.
After more than a decade with the team, Mr. Boldan hasn’t forgotten what’s important. “I really enjoy how the game brings so many people together,” he says. “From grandparents to alumni to the players themselves, no matter who is playing, people just love hockey!” Recently, under Mr. Boldan’s direction, the team announced they will be expanding to include a women’s hockey program beginning in the 2019-2020 season.
Amber Sawaya, 38
Executive Vice President | Zorroa
Amber Sawaya has always had a talent for art, so following her passion into a career in graphic design was a no-brainer. Combining her passion with business, she built a career around user experience―and it paid off. “My first self-made million was a huge accomplishment,” Ms. Sawaya says, describing the consulting firm she ran for over decade. But as she’s pushed forward with passion, her innovations have only continued to push the envelope.
Since joining the team at Zorroa―which provides machine learning tools for businesses―Ms. Sawaya has made her mark on a whole new industry. Pushing the value of user experience in artificial intelligence, she maps how real humans interact with the power of machine learning, and she’s taken a leadership role in guarding against undiversified bias and other unintentional consequences that have vexed earlier AI efforts. “This curious nature and ability to dive in and understand a new area served me well when I was able to bring a UX mindset to the artificial intelligence industry,” she says. A best-selling author and startup success, Ms. Sawaya is a heavily sought after speaker, influencer, and mentor.
Bahar Ferguson, JD, MBA, 34
President | Wasatch IT
“I had no idea I would ever end up in IT,” Bahar Ferguson says, recounting her entrepreneurial achievements. “But being raised by entrepreneurs, I was always starting my own business as a child. I always loved the creativity in business.” From operating the cash register at her family’s restaurant as a child to leading the sales, marketing, and business development team at Wasatch IT, she has driven every endeavor she’s pursued to success.
Receiving her MBA from Westminster College and then her Juris Doctorate from Brigham Young University, Ms. Ferguson has been busy. Beginning her political career at just 19, she was a key resource in Governor Huntsman’s campaign and spent several years working in the governor’s office before practicing law and then joining her husband to run Wasatch IT. In the 18 months since joining the company, she has doubled its monthly recurring revenue and its core business.
Ben Kolendar, 34
Director of Business Development & Economic Development | Salt Lake City Department of Economic Development
“I was drawn into economic development during the Afghanistan war,” says Ben Kolendar. “I worked for a special mission task force out of the Pentagon that sought stability through strategic economic initiatives. That was my toe in the water.” And he was immediately hooked. Working in economic development and foreign affairs quickly became his passion, and he says that helping to build the Salt Lake City Department of Economic Development has been extremely rewarding.
After Mayor Biskupski created the department in 2016, Mr. Kolendar has lead it to tremendous growth, retaining over 9,000 jobs and nearly a billion dollars in capital investment. He played a critical role in updating Utah’s Foreign Trade Zone process, as well as bringing the 68th United Nations Department of Public Information NGO Conference to Salt Lake City in 2019. Prior to his work with the city, Mr. Kolendar worked with the Obama administration as senior advisor to the executive director of SelectUSA, an initiative to attract and retain foreign business investment in the United States. As a presidentially appointed official, Mr. Kolendar provided guidance to create jobs, spur economic growth, and promote American competitiveness.
Bethany Teeples, 30
Owner | Waffled
Starting her waffle career as a summer adventure, Bethany Teeples turned her passion into a thriving company. From catering weddings and baby showers to opening Waffled in 2017, her very first brick and mortar store in Farmington, followed by a second in 2018, she was always willing to get her hands dirty and build from the ground up.
But what Ms. Teeples finds most rewarding is helping her young staff navigate their lives. “Most of my staff [members] are between 15 and 18 years old,” she says. “I love getting to know each of them and watching them grow.” Ms. Teeples strives to be a strong role model for her young staff, and hopes to expand on that in the future by creating a coaching service for teens. “I truly feel they needmore advocates on every level,” she says. With ideas like these, it’s clear that Ms. Teeples is building more than good waffles, she’s working to build strong individuals.
Brandon Rodman, 37
CEO | Weave
After graduating from Brigham Young University in 2004, Brandon Rodman worked in summer sales before completely pivoting his career trajectory. Founding Recall Solutions from his attic in Lehi, which later became Weave, he was elected by Y-Combinator for funding in 2014 and the company has continued to see success ever since. Since the company’s conception as a phone company, it’s grown into a substantial software hub. Now, Weave’s software is used in over 7,000 offices across the US.
Mr. Rodman hopes to inspire other entrepreneurs as he takes the next steps in his career. “I would encourage others to join an early-stage company and spend time learning what success looks like rather than starting a company in your early 20’s,” he says. “Be patient. Embrace the hard times. Your path will be unique. Enjoy the journey.”
Brock Loomis, 34
“I knew I wanted to do something related to construction and development, but I didn’t know what,” says Brock Loomis, recounting the unique journey that led him to where he stands today. Graduating from Weber State University with no experience in 2007, he dove headfirst into construction and development. Working with an engineering firm, he was promoted within six months to oversee a team of engineers with far more experience. At 27, he oversaw the Asia territory, and then moved to Shanghai to oversee projects in places like Hong Kong, Tokyo, and Malaysia.
Joining JF Capital as the land acquisition and development director at 32, Mr. Loomis has been a tremendous part of the development of communities and continues to push innovation at every turn. And with a unique perspective on the industry, he intends to keep pushing those innovations forward. “I have a personality that is always hungry for something to do. Working in the fast-paced world of real estate development keeps me on my toes.”
Carl Sokia, 39
Executive Director, People Operations | The Grand America Hotel
Carl Sokia has always had a passion for making an impact on others’ lives. Working in hospitality for over 15 years, he’s spent 13 of them working in human resources, or what he calls “people operations,” helping propel others in their careers. “I actually fell into my career in HR by accident,” he says, though he’s extremely proud of the accomplishments he’s made. As the executive director of people operations at The Grand America Hotel, Mr. Sokia measures his success by the people he impacts every day, and works to inspire younger generations.
“I hope I can be an example to the young polynesians and other young ethnic minorities found across the Utah business landscape,” he says. “My goal is to be a light on the hill for young people.”
Carrie Rogers-Whitehead, 36
Cofounder & CEO | Digital Respons-Ability; Wizarding Days LLC
Carrie Rogers-Whitehead founded Digital Respons-Ability because of the gaps she saw in her own career. “There was talk about the what of technology, but not the why. I saw a push for STEM, but not a push for soft skills. Technology is changing rapidly, but the human brain has been the same for thousands of years.” Now empowering youth to be responsible digital citizens, Ms. Rogers-Whitehead has also taken extensive care in planning digital programs around youth with special sensory needs, such as autism.
Ms. Rogers-Whitehead is heavily involved in the community, both on the local and state levels, innovating and implementing youth programs like ToshoCON, the only teen-lead anime convention in the country; Teen Hackathon; Teen Yule Ball, and various other clubs and contests. She is also the cofounder of Wizarding Dayz, a fantasy event that focuses on charity, education, and STEM. “Adults are very reactive to what they see young people doing,” she says, and she’s working to engage youth in the mediums they enjoy.
Cory Tholl, 39
CEO | Klymit
Cory Tholl didn’t found Klymit, but from the way he’s lead it to success, you would think he had. Hired for product development in 2008, he helped develop the initial ideas of Klymit’s founder. But his passion for taking products from ideation to market put him on the path to success, and by asking the right questions, he was appointed CEO in 2011. From that point on, Mr. Tholl has steered Klymit forward, seeing continual year-over-year revenue and profitability growth, with a three-year growth rate of 406.1 percent. He has lead Klymit to become an Inc. 5,000 company for the past three years, and he pushes his team toward a high standard of excellence necessary to reach their highest potential.
Looking forward, Mr. Tholl isn’t sure where the future leads, but he’s excited to explore. “I’m really enjoying this journey and believe there’s a lot of blue sky still ahead of us at Klymit.”
Courtney Anderson, 37
Founder & CEO | Spa Trouvé
With an eye for design, Courtney Anderson bought her first medical spa in 2011 and set out to create a beautiful environment where “feeling good looks good.” Now, eight years later, Spa Trouvé allows everyone who enters its doors to feel truly beautiful. “I’ve had a love for the beauty industry since I was a young girl, and being able to combine that with my degree in exercise physiology, I discovered my true passion,” she says. In addition to founding the medical spa, Ms. Anderson also completed the 2014 Goldman Sachs Business Program, writing her 60-page thesis about her business.
The culture Ms. Anderson has created around Spa Trouvé is unique. Known as the Nordstrom of medical spas, she focuses on attention to detail and superior customer service, setting the spa apart from competitors. Now with four locations, under Ms. Anderson’s leadership they have won multiple awards, including Utah Valley’s best laser hair removal and best medical spa for four years in a row.
Crystal Low, 37
Executive Vice President, Business Payments & Technology | Zions Bank
Crystal Low initially applied at Zions Bank to transition out of retail and help get her through college. Now, 17 years later, she’s the director of business payments and technology. Graduating from the University of Phoenix with a degree in business management and then earning her Executive MBA from the University of Utah, she was the first generation of her family to graduate college, and then the first member to earn a graduate degree. And at 35, she became the youngest female executive vice president in Zions Bank history.
Ms. Low focuses on innovation and improvement, and her efforts at Zions Bank haven’t gone unnoticed. Implementing an idea tracking tool that allows any employee to submit a solution for improvement, her initiative saved the company over $300,000 in expenses in 2017. “Banking is cool,” says Ms. Low, and she’s clearly excited about her work. When asked about her future, she has no intention of leaving the industry. “I would love to stay and one day run the bank.”
Dallin Anderson, 34
VP & GM, Inside Sales & Acquisition Marketing | Vivint Smart Home
Although just 34 years old, Dallin Anderson has played a pivotal role in driving Vivint’s growth and propelling the company to its position as the number one smart home services provider in North America. Leading a talented team of more than 500 salespeople, marketers, and analysts, he has grown his team by 30 percent over the last year alone. Under Mr. Anderson’s leadership, Vivint generated a lifetime revenue of $600 million from new customers in 2018 and will reduce customer acquisition costs by 66 percent in 2019.
But, like all rising stars, Mr. Anderson didn’t always know success. Entering the workforce at just 13, he had 15 jobs before entering college, all of which instilled an incomparable work ethic within him before leading him to a full-ride scholarship at Brigham Young University. “My career philosophy is that you should learn to do your job in 20 hours a week, then spend the rest of your time thinking like a CEO,” he says. “Use your talents to drive new initiatives for the business.”
Dan Cook, 36
Senior Vice President of Sales & Customer Success | Lucid
“When I joined Lucid, the company was four years old and had millions of users without ever having had a single sales person. Now, more than 100 sales and success professionals later, I’m very proud of what we’ve accomplished since that first day.” With Dan Cook putting deliberate measures behind such a successful product, he’s propelled Lucid beyond what he ever thought possible.
After graduating from Brigham Young University, Mr. Cook worked in investment banking, and served on the board of ABI Innovation Hub before earning his MBA from Harvard. And then he found Lucid. Mr. Cook realized the incredible opportunity to leverage Lucidchart’s massive user base into enterprise customers, building the sales team from the ground up and scaling the team to its current 120 members. “Building this team has definitely been the most rewarding project I’ve worked on. And the best part is we’re just getting started.” And going forward, he’s hopeful about the endless possibilities. “I like to think of life as a choose your own adventure novel. Each incremental decision opens up new opportunities.”
Daria D. Anderson, 37
Director of Compliance | National Association of Black Accountants, Salt Lake City Chapter
As a child, Daria Anderson always knew she would grow up to be a lawyer. Graduating from Indiana University, she earned her degree in criminal justice, and then her juris doctorate at Valparaiso University. Taking the unorthodox route of serving her community, Ms. Anderson dedicated herself to helping urban communities, nonprofits, and refugees.
Ms. Anderson is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha, the oldest sorority founded by African American students, and serves as the director of compliance and membership engagement for the Salt Lake City chapter of the National Association of Black Accountants. Committed to diversity initiatives in Utah, her goal is to connect businesses and individuals to resources that will expand their experience. “I am very passionate about financial literacy awareness among groups that are underrepresented and young people,” she says. “I find ways to give back by volunteering and teaching classes on how taxes and credit work as well as how the economy works to children and adults alike.”
David Garbett, 40
Special Projects Leader | Garbett Homes
A community advocate with more than a decade of experience in litigating, lobbying, and crafting policy, David Garbett has dedicated his professional life to addressing complex social problems in innovative ways. As the former executive director of The Pioneer Park Coalition, he helped to address the homelessness epidemic in the Rio Grande area of Salt Lake City. During his first year with the coalition, he worked to unite local residents, businesses, and public officials in a visualization of a revitalized Pioneer Park, and in August of 2018, he was vital to the groundbreaking for the construction of “The Green Lawn,” a new multi-use field in the center of the park.
Mr. Garbett has worked with nonprofits for years as a public interest attorney, focusing on public lands law and environmental issues. After earning his MS in business from Stanford, he received his juris doctorate from Harvard Law. He also holds an MS in economics from Utah State University and a BA in history from Brigham Young University.
Heather Allen, 37
Tax Partner | Tanner LLC
Heather Allen is quietly making a difference in accounting. As one of the few female partners in a public accounting firm in Utah, Ms. Allen is an advocate for diversity―leading and inspiring other women to move up and make a positive impact. “Throughout my career, I haven’t had many women with senior management or partner positions to model a career path after,” she says, and she’s working hard to make up for that.
After teaming up with another female accounting partner nine years ago, she worked to create internal programs and initiatives specifically designed to recruit and mentor future female partners. “I would like to be a role model for younger women by showing them that there are different ways to achieve your goals.”
Ian S. Davis, 39
Shareholder & Attorney | Durham Jones & Pinegar
After graduating law school near the top of his class and completing a judicial clerkship with Justice Ronald Nehring on the Utah Supreme Court, Ian S. Davis started his legal practice with Durham Jones & Pinegar in 2007. Just in time for the great recession. Developing expertise in handling complicated loan workouts and foreclosures, he has worked diligently on guiding his clients through troubled loan situations. “I had to quickly shift focus,” Mr. Davis says. “I had hoped to do loan origination work, but very few banks were making loans then.” But being thrown into the fire taught him how to navigate those troubled situations, and he’s since only grown.
Outside of Law, Mr. Davis is an avid gardener and is a member of the board for Wasatch Community Gardens. “We offer a place of refuge and a source of community,” Mr. Davis says. Providing them with legal support and business advice, he hopes to continue to build a flourishing community space.
Jessica Bueno Moyer, 34
Vice President of Corporate Training & Development | Four Foods Group
Jessica Bueno Moyer has a passion for hospitality. Formerly a Best Buy general manager, she used the majority of her time there training in public speaking, meeting etiquette, and media training, using her skills to open new stores and train new employees. She is also responsible for developing the hospitality and culinary training programs at Cafe Zupas. Having attended more than five leadership training programs, including the Disney Institute Hospitality Training and the Harvard Leadership Institute Training, she has become an authority on hospitality and leadership.
Ms. Moyer has been instrumental in the ideation and execution of the new training technology in the Four Foods Group restaurants, always ten steps ahead of the next innovation. “Fearlessness is my motivation,” says Ms. Moyer. “As the mom of a determined two year old girl, I want her to know what a fearless woman can accomplish. What can I do today if I’m not afraid to look stupid or fail?
Jessie Lynn Richards, 38
Associate Professor & Lecturer; Executive Director | Eccles School of Business, University of Utah; Fight Against Domestic Violence
Jessie Lynn Richards is dedicated to increasing education, awareness, and resources for domestic violence victims, survivors, and their communities. As cofounder and executive director of the nonprofit foundation Fight Against Domestic Violence, she uses her skills to lead others that are passionate about the cause. A long time advocate for marginalized communities, and women in particular, she has served on the board of the Utah Coalition Against Sexual Assault (UCASA) and with the Utah Women and Refugee Council. She also serves on the board of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences (ChASS) at Utah State University and is the founder of the Jessie and Jared Richards Scholarship Fund, which provides low-income students interested in studying issues of family violence a full-tuition scholarship for four years.
Aside from her domestic violence activism, Ms. Richards is a true academic, and she’s proud of the fact that she earned her PhD while parenting three children. “I always wanted to be in academia,” she says. “My favorite professors were those who combined their personal passions with their teaching and research.”
Josh Rosenthal, 36
Cofounder| La Barba Coffee, Creek Tea, Seabird
Josh Rosenthal is the visionary behind local favorites La Barba Coffee and Creek Tea. “When I moved to Salt Lake City in 2002, people weren’t always happy to be here. So I wanted to contribute to making this a more enjoyable place to be. I love Salt Lake City,” he says. After a professional music career as an acoustic guitarist, Mr. Rosenthal launched his entrepreneurial adventure with La Barba in 2012, followed by Creek Tea in 2017. And Seabird, a craft cocktail bar, is targeted to launch before spring.
As an entrepreneur, Mr. Rosenthal believes the best way to give back is to care about the communities you work in. “It’s just money,” he says. “Make it. Lose it. It’s all the same. Put an equal emphasis on the people you’re impacting as the money you’re making. Give more of yourself to make sure everyone in the supply and demand chains feel valued.”
Joshua Heath, 39
Managing Director | Codeword
Joshua Heath has played a vital role in many of Utah’s major brands throughout his 12 year career, from Vivint to InMoment and beyond. As a member of the public relations team, he’s built their strategies and generated narratives that have resulted in coverage by publications like the New York Times, Fortune, CNN, and many other national networks.
Throughout his career, he’s launched campaigns that give back to the community on local, national, and even international levels, including launching the anti-sexual violence campaign in Salt Lake City, helping the US Department of Justice fight to keep the drinking age at 21, and raise international awareness on the issue of nuclear nonproliferation.
But while helping a brand cut through the noise and connect with their target audience is rewarding in itself, Mr. Heath’s true reward is mentoring the team he’s worked with along the way. “Leadership is forged while working side by side in the trenches with your team,” he says. “My best mentors were always the ones working with me, not the ones shouting out orders from behind closed doors.”
Joshua McLaughlin, 37
Managing Director | Palantir Technologies
“I fell backwards into tech,” says Joshua McLaughlin. Commissioned into the United States Army as a Second Lieutenant from the University of Colorado, he spent seven years on active duty, three of which were spent deployed in Iraq. A graduate of the US Army Ranger School, he joined Palantir Technologies after transitioning from active duty when a former army friend introduced him to it. In his earliest days with Palantir, he helped US troops and allied militaries utilize big data and advanced analytics to dismantle terror networks. After spearheading major software growth initiatives, he was appointed managing director in 2017.
Splitting his time between Doha, Qatar, and Salt Lake City, Utah, Maj. McLaughlin also spends several months a year in uniform supporting the 19th Special Forces Group (Airborne). He doesn’t have free time. But he hopes to continue his growth in the Utah business community. “I would like to help grow the Utah startup community,” he says. “Whether that’s on the VC side, in state government, or even in a Utah startup.”
Juliette Tennert, 38
Chief Economist, Director of Economic & Public Policy Research | Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute, University of Utah
Juliette Tennert has accomplished more before 40 than most people do in their entire careers. Dedicated to public service, she was appointed as the Chief Economist for the State of Utah at only 27, where she chaired the Governor’s Council of Economic Advisers. During her tenure, she directly advised Governor Jon Huntsman and his senior staff, while playing a tremendous role in guiding Utah through the Great Recession. “I’d often be the youngest person in the room,” she recounts of her time with Gov. Huntsman. Following that, she was named Utah’s State Budget Director under Governor Gary Herbert, where she coordinated the governor’s budget proposal and implementation through the recession recovery and economic expansion.
“I never imagined I would work as an economist,” says Ms. Tennert. Now, she serves as the chief economist and director of economic and public policy research at the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute at the University of Utah. Directing a team of the state’s 13 best and brightest economists and analysts, she sets the conversation on on major economic policy issues.
Karnell McConnell-Black, 32
Interim Vice President of Student Affairs & Dean of Students | Westminster College
As a first generation college student, Karnell McConnell-Black has always charted new paths. As someone who has demonstrated remarkable leadership skills through his work with Westminster College, he tirelessly champions others and pushes them toward success. Since becoming interim vice president of student affairs and dean of students, Mr. Karnell has accomplished much, including developing and implementing the Division of Student Affairs Learning Domains, co-leading the initiative to re-establish the Westminster College Staff Council, and establishing a new policy to support student demonstrations on campus.
“When we combine our beliefs and values, we exercise our ability to create meaningful and transformational experiences that serve as a catalyst for an authentic life,” he says. “To be a transformative educational leader is to combine compassion and vulnerability, understanding that creative environments allow for individuals of all identities to be true stewards of the community we live in.”
Kendra Jackson, 34
Global Operations Manager | Qualtrics
After graduating from Georgetown University, Kendra Jackson began her career in academia leading student programs at several universities, which sparked a passion for leading teams and organizations. Four years later, she returned to business school at the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan, where she was the president of the Black Business Student Association. After four years with Goldman Sachs, Ms. Jackson joined Qualtrics in 2017.
Since joining Qualtrics, she has launched their first online community, led campus recruiting to increase the female employment rate at Qualtrics, established employee research groups, and launched the Women Leadership Development program. “I want to be a visible example of what is possible,” says Ms. Jackson. “I will continue to challenge both the status quo of business strategy and the makeup of our businesses to drive more positive impact on our communities.” She leads by not only attracting top talent, but by empowering her team and mentoring others.
Kylie Chenn, 26
Founder & CEO | Acanela Expeditions
Kylie Chenn’s vision for Acanela Expeditions began when she was a student at Brigham Young University. After living in eastern Africa and southeast Asia as a part of her studies, she saw firsthand how positive ecotourism had the capability to elevate local economies out of poverty and empower individuals in a more sustainable way than many of the local charitable organizations. Now, sidestepping the constraints that traditional travel companies encounter, Ms. Chenn has built a travel company fit for the 21st century.
“As a female entrepreneur, and a young female entrepreneur, I face challenges every day about what a woman should be or do in the workplace,” she says. “I’m incredibly motivated by the opportunity to break down some of those biases and make a positive impact.” Rather than taking a hands-off approach, Ms. Chenn is always right there with her team, ensuring a smooth experience for everyone. “I hope to inspire other young female entrepreneurs to pursue their passions and dreams and turn that into something that positively benefits the community.”
Lauren Andersen, 36
Director of Personal Enrichment | University of Utah Continuing Education
“It took me a while to realize it, but my desire to make education accessible, affordable, and approachable came from my grandmother,” says Lauren Anderson, when recounting what initially drew her into her career. “She wanted to go to college, but was told she would go to beauty school instead. She continued to learn the rest of her life through books and classes, but I know she wished she had the chance to get a university degree.”
Hired by the University of Utah in 2016, Ms. Andersen became responsible for the Lifelong Learning and the Go Learn Travel programs, working with senior learners, including those in their ‘80s. During her two year tenure, enrollments have increased by 200 students and membership for the Osher Lifelong Learning program has increased by 21 percent. Under Ms. Andersen’s leadership, the program has become self-sustaining, even adding four new international destinations. She has also launched an inter-generational learning opportunity, allowing Osher members to volunteer at a local daycare so members can share their passion for learning with children from 12 weeks to five years old.
Lauren E. Willie, 33
Founding Member | Volunteer Managers of Utah, Volunteer Manager | National Ability Center
Throughout her life, Lauren E. Willie has sought out ways to give back to her community and engage in acts of service. Volunteering at a small village in Cameroon with the Peace Corps, she was inspired to find new ways to support communities abroad as well as communities at home. “I learned so much from those who had so little and understood what sustainability meant for their future,” she says. After her tour with the Peace Corps, she returned to Cameroon determined to make a difference, creating a guidebook that encompassed 233 local villages, empowering the local communities to take control of their economic empowerment.
Since then, numerous organizations, governments, individuals, and businesses have utilized the connections she made to address the crisis in Cameroon. During her work, Ms. Willie was awarded the title Ekandim Nkanda―a lifelong honor to those who demonstrate the ability to unite communities. Back home, Ms. Willie employs the same strategies she used in Cameroon to build networks and empower local communities with the Volunteer Managers of Utah.
Michael M. Parker, 32
Vice President of Public Affairs, Marketing, & Senior Economist | Ivory Homes
“I’ve always been passionate and drawn to making a positive impact in my community,” says Michael M. Parker. And working with Utah’s number one home builder puts him in prime position to not only impact communities, but to create them. An instrumental part of Ivory Homes’ 30,000 trees initiative for their 30th anniversary, he’s stayed focused on providing positive future impact as well.
Mr. Parker’s background includes a diverse mix of business, government, and public policy experience, ranging from local to federal policy issues. Prior to joining Ivory Homes, he lead public policy efforts for the Salt Lake Chamber, Utah’s largest and longest-standing business association. “I’m proud of being Team Utah, focusing on making our state one of the best in America. I’ve been fortunate to be part of most of the significant legislative changes in transportation and tax policy over the past five years.”
Philip Niu, 38
CEO | Parachut.co
Philip Niu was raised by a hard working, first generation American father from a small village on the island of Tonga. Raised in Hawaii, what they lacked in financial stability, they made up for in rich heritage. After graduating from Brigham Young University, Mr. Niu entered the corporate world, but it didn’t take long for him to realize that his passion laid elsewhere.
In 2016, he created Parachut.co with his wife, Melissa, driving the next step of working and living in the Access Economy. Providing a space for people to gain what they need only when they need it, after launching a single article in Resource Magazine, they were immediately overwhelmed when other magazines such as Wired and TechCrunch began to give them unprompted exposure as well.
Since their initial launch, Mr. Niu has closed and reopened Parachut.co after completing market research to make the business bigger and better. And he promises to continue to do what it takes to reach his goal. “I don’t believe in retirement,” he says. “I’d like to spend every breath driving the future forward.”
Rebecca Macias, 38
Regional Marketing Manager | Eide Bailly LLP
When asked what drew her into career, Rebecca Macias says, “getting laid off.” And she’s serious. “I know that what I’m doing now is what I’ve always wanted to do. However, for years, I just did events. I enjoyed it, but I knew it wasn’t my future. Then I got laid off. It was the best thing that happened to me.”
Six years ago, Ms. Macias was with the first Utah firm to join Eide Bailly as a marketing coordinator with the freedom to build it as she wanted. Working independently, she created something extraordinary. Creating the framework needed to market professional services, she developed the firm’s first marketing plan, individual business development plans for leadership, and coaching opportunities for senior levels of staff.
In 2018, she took on a new role as regional marketing manager, taking her marketing expertise to firms across the west. “I hope to be a voice and advocate for women, especially Latina women, to know that they can speak up for what they want.”
Reece Rovig, 32
Vice President of Commercial Sales | Pluralsight
Highly sought after for his ability to make an immediate and significant impact on the bottom line of some of Utah’s most well-known organizations, Reece Rovig knows what it takes to be successful. Spending the last four and half years of his career preparing the pipeline for two of Utah’s leading technology IPO’s, he couldn’t be in an industry he finds more fulfilling. “I love the tech industry,” he says. “Although it can be very volatile, it’s also a fertile ground to pioneer new methodologies, strategies, and processes.”
Since joining Pluralsight, he has led a team of 40 professionals, been promoted three times, surpassed his sales quota each year, and increased the number of enterprise accounts to include more than 60 percent of Fortune 500 companies. Mr. Rovig is always looking for new ways to exceed expectations and set the new standard within each role he represents. “Focus on developing skills rather than money or job titles,” he advises about the path to success. “If you spend your time and energy developing the right skills, the money and titles will eventually follow.”
Rosalyn Kennedy, 39
Vice President, Executive Communications & Community Relations | Ancestry
Rosalyn Kennedy is a storyteller. A two-time Emmy Award winner for her work on The Dr. Oz Show, she has also covered some of the most important news stories of her generation on 60 Minutes and The CBS Evening News. Working with brands like Google and Coca-Cola, she transitioned from broadcast journalism to corporate communication. And now, as a new resident of Utah, she has joined the team at Ancestry. “My job at Ancestry is pretty incredible,” she says. “Working for a company like this where our product empowers journeys of personal discovery to enrich lives, it’s an awesome responsibility.”
A rising industry voice, Ms. Kennedy now speaks on topics as impactful as internal communications, strategic public relations, and cultivating leadership voices. “I’m the daughter of immigrants whose first language was not English,” she says. “To have a job that allows me to work with words for a living, it’s pretty awe-inspiring.”
Shannon Bahrke Happe, 38
At age 17, Shannon Bahrke Happe was named to the US Freestyle Mogul Ski Team and spent the next 12 years dedicating her life to being the best in the world. She represented the USA three times as an Olympic Member, and at 21, she won her first Olympic medal during the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics.
Skiing led Ms. Happe to her first entrepreneurial adventure as a motivational speaker in 2002. In 2008, she started Silver Bean Coffee Company, and in 2010 she represented both the St. Regis Deer Valley and Montage Deer Valley as their Ski Ambassador and eventually became the Ski Champion for Deer Valley Resort. But in 2017, she combined her passion of skiing and business and launched Team Empower Hour. “As an Olympic athlete, I know how important it is to live a healthy lifestyle. By bringing together all the skills I learned during my Olympic career, I wanted to empower others to be healthier, one hour at a time, every day,” she says.
Stevenson Sylvester, 30
A former professional football player, Stevenson Sylvester played first for the Utah Utes before being drafted to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Leading the Utes to four winning seasons, then going to the Super Bowl during his rookie year with the Steelers, he played until a career-ending knee injury sidelined him in 2014. Then, he founded KLYP, a cutting edge cosmetology service app.
No stranger to the beauty industry, Mr. Sylvester struggled finding a barber while traveling across the US as a pro athlete―and he knew he wasn’t the only one. So he set out to change that. Creating an app to help improve communication between the stylist and the client, he’s made it effortless to find a good haircut no matter where you are. And he’s helped stylists find business.
“With the lack of technology in this industry, it was a no brainer,” he says. “KLYP will create jobs for independent contractors, allowing them flexibility you don’t see anywhere else. We intend to improve daily lives by taking the stress out of your transactional cosmetology needs.”
Tessa Arneson, 37
Tessa Arneson embarked on her entrepreneurial dream five years ago by purchasing a small fitness studio. Almost immediately, she started work on what is now Maven District―a hub of wellness-based businesses in Salt Lake City.
With 20 percent growth year over year since purchasing the original studio, Maven Strong expects to double their revenue this year. Capitalizing on this growth, Ms. Arneson is planning another location, Maven West, which is projected to open in 2020, as well as two more locations she’s currently working to curate.
When we asked what she’s most proud of, she barely had to stop and think. “The fact that Maven District has 19 female, locally owned businesses,” she says. “That means 19 women believed in our idea of creating a curated community of wellness, beauty, food, and retail enough to quit their day jobs and chase their dreams of being entrepreneurs.”
Thom Carter, 40
Since joining the Utah Clean Air Partnership in 2017, Thom Carter has established himself as a passionate and effective leader when it comes to the clean air issue. From big business on the right to environmentalists on the left, he has helped bridge the divide in both understanding and education to find solutions to clean air policy that all stakeholders can support. “I like to say that in our efforts to clean the air, there are not perfect answers. But there are practical solutions,” he says.
Under Mr. Carter’s direction, UCAIR executes a nearly $1 million advertising and public relations campaign to help accomplish the initiative to reduce emissions and other particulate matter in our air, such as “Be Idle Be Free” and “Show UCAIR.” And under his leadership, UCAIR has released over $400,000 in grants to groups improving Utah’s air. Instrumental in generating public and private funding and support, private donations have risen 40 percent since his appointment as executive director.
Tyler Buswell, 38
A commercial real estate agent at Kirton McConkie, Tyler Buswell began his career in 2008. Unanimously selected as a shareholder in 2015, his knowledge and understanding of key legal issues is demonstrated not just in the complicated transactions he works on, but also in being a frequently requested presenter on legal issues. “I love helping my clients get deals done,” he says. “If I’ve done my job right, my client and the adverse party are both happy at the end of the transaction because we resolved any potential issues before there was a dispute.”
“I’m passionate about pro bono legal services for those that can’t afford attorneys,” he says. This passion lead to the founding of the Serving Our Seniors project that provides certain free legal services to indigent senior citizens across the State of Utah. In the first year the project was operating, it received national accolades from the American Bar Association for service to the community. The Serving Our Seniors project continues to thrive today.
Zach Holmquist, 32
Cofounder | Teem x Wework
“As the true founder of Teem, he came up with the idea, built the prototype, launched the company, and has been the driving force behind it all the way through its nine figure sale to WeWork in September 2018,” says Zach Holmquist’s cofounder, Dan Caffee of him. Mr. Holmquist helped create a define a new category of technology known as workplace experience, and now presents around the world as an expert on the subject.
“I’ve always been fascinated with the concept of having an idea, bringing it to life, and then sharing it with others. Before the internet, I wanted to be a disney animator to create and share. But then I was 13 and saw my cousin’s Geocities page,” says Mr. Holmquist. He created Teem as a small side project, but he always knew it had the potential to be a powerhouse. By the time it sold last year, it had over a million users worldwide.
Find event photos of our honorees here.