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Utah Business

Meet the esteemed class of 2022 Outstanding Director honorees.

Meet the 2022 Outstanding Directors honorees

Every year, Utah Business and NACD Utah honor the board members of companies, nonprofits, and organizations for the inspirational work they do behind the scenes to create lasting innovation and growth for future generations. Congratulations to the 2022 Outstanding Directors honorees.

Public Company

Russell “Chip” Childs

Board of Directors, President, and CEO | SkyWest, Inc.

Russel “Chip” Childs photographed by MANICPROJECT for Utah Business

What in your personal and professional life prepared you for the responsibility of corporate directorship?

I worked in asphalt, construction, and trucking. These labor-intensive jobs helped build the grit, determination, and grounded connection that I still use today. Every job I had on the front lines prepared me to be on a board and become a CEO. The front line is where you are most closely connected to the customer experience, what your people need to deliver a solid product, and the work it takes to do so. 

Have you seen the role of boards change over time, and if so, in what ways?

Yes, both the makeup and role of boards have changed over time. First, thankfully, there is more diversity—not only in visible ways but also in a broader diversity of thought and skill across boards. That benefits everyone. Second, boards have changed to have a more socially-conscious mindset in general. I believe boards will continue to evolve as awareness changes of the different challenges we face as a society and the positive impact we can drive. 

How have your board positions influenced the way you approach business?

Being on different boards broadens your perspective, encourages you to think outside the box, and helps reinforce the essential nature of staying connected to the employees and customers of your business.

If you could serve on any board, which would it be and why?

I’m a big believer in clean and economical energy sources. I think it would be very intriguing to serve on the board of some type of clean nuclear energy company.

Private Company

Maria Garciaz

Director | American Express Centurion Bank

LinkedIn

Maria Garciaz photographed by MANICPROJECT for Utah Business

What do you enjoy most about being a director?

The interaction with colleagues and working with some passionate and brilliant individuals.

What is the most rewarding thing about the work you do? Why?

Connecting resources to individuals in need. It is important to me because, throughout my path in life, there was always someone who cared enough to connect me to a resource that helped me either in my education or career.

How have your board positions influenced the way you approach business?

My many board positions have influenced the way I approach business by keeping at the forefront the importance of seeking out strategic partnerships, the importance of consistent communication throughout departments, and self-reflection on relevance.

What would you like people to know about the work of a board director?

What is important to know about a board director is to understand the difference between good governance and micromanagement.

Nonprofit

Mark and Kathie Miller

Trustees | The Mark and Kathie Miller Foundation

Mark and Kathie Miller photographed by MANICPROJECT for Utah Business

What do you enjoy most about being a director?

Being part of a team that is making a difference in the world.

What is the most rewarding thing about the work you do? Why?

Watching our time and investments change people’s lives.

What are you looking forward to doing most as a board director?

Disrupting the old way of doing things.

Venture Capital

Blake Modersitzski

Managing Partner | Pelion Venture Partners

LinkedIn

Blake Modersitzski photographed by Justin Hackworth for Utah Business

What do you enjoy most about being a director?

The friendships created with the senior team of the company and the other directors.

What is the most rewarding thing about the work you do? Why?

Being a part of amazing companies.

What would you like people to know about the work of a board director?

Your job is to be a holistic resource for the CEO.

Not-for-profit

Jake R. Nichol

Director| Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Utah

Jake R. Nichol photographed by MANICPROJECT for Utah Business

www.linkedin.com/in/jake-r-nichol-12964a4

What do you enjoy most about being a director?

All of the great boards I serve on share one universal characteristic—they all encourage rigorous and challenging debate. I find the process of searching for hidden solutions and solving vexing problems with the company’s leadership team to be the most stimulating and enjoyable role that a director can play.

What in your personal and professional life prepared you for the responsibility of corporate directorship?

Working for a board of directors in my company leadership roles helped me understand the contribution that a high-performing board can make. However, I will admit that I should have learned this much earlier. In the early part of my career, I found myself purposefully giving my boards the old “Heisman Stiff Arm”—trying to keep them from getting too deeply involved in the strategies of my businesses. Working as a director, I try to be conscious of the bright line of staying out of the leadership team’s duties while still being willing to challenge and discuss alternatives.

Have you seen the role of boards change over time, and if so, in what ways?

Clearly, shareholder activism and the current accounting regulatory requirement changes have affected public company board roles and responsibilities and even many private companies that operate with public company-type board governance. I know of some fellow board members who now choose not to serve on public company boards.

What are you looking forward to doing most as a board director?

Simply helping my companies achieve their potential. I am a free-market zealot and believe that the world’s greatest companies will continue to be created in societies where all of the mechanisms of the free market are allowed to flourish. No system of government is better equipped to deliver broad stakeholder value.

Lifetime Achievement

Kenneth M. Woolley

Chairman of the Board | Extra Space Storage

Kenneth Woolley photographed by MANICPROJECT for Utah Business

What do you enjoy most about being a director?

The opportunity to mentor the CEO and help set a long-range strategy.

Have you seen the role of boards change over time, and if so, in what ways?

Over the years, the boards have become much more concerned and engaged in environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) and employee and social policy issues rather than just returns to shareholders.

What is the most exciting thing you have learned as a board director?

That young people and people of diversity have a great deal to add to the corporation’s success.

What would you like people to know about the work of a board director?

It takes preparation and diligence. It is about working with people.

To learn more about our 2022 honorees, please check out the embedded videos below and download additional event photography here.

Mekenna is the assistant editor of Utah Business and a graduate of the print journalism program at Utah State University. She has written about local news, arts, and culture for publications like SLUG Magazine, Salty Magazine, Visit Salt Lake, and the Standard-Examiner. She loves hiking, thrifting, reading, and taking camping trips with her partner in their 1986 Land Cruiser.

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