2021 Women of the Year honorees
Every year, Utah Business honors the women who have made an impact in largely male-dominated industries including government, education, healthcare, nonprofits, and technology. The 2021 Women of the Year are being honored specifically for their vision and ability to see a path forward where others might not, as well as the way they forge new paths for women in the workforce. Join us in celebrating this year’s class.
Refuge Services Office Director | Department of Workforce Services
Asha Parekh’s passion is to help design systems that more effectively help vulnerable populations. She’s always worked from an equity lens to increase access, specifically for victims of violence, and founded the Salt Lake Area Family Justice Center at the YWCA. Now she’s leading the Utah Refugee Center to help refugees access better-paying jobs with family-sustaining wages and career ladder opportunities.
Founder and Executive Director | Women of the World
Samira Harnish always dreamed of standing with women. She turned this desire into a reality when she founded Women of the World in early 2010, an organization that supports the self-reliance of forcibly displaced women and the building of an equitable and inclusive community. Harnish’’s background as an international student, as well as a professional woman in research, and development semiconductor engineering, informs her development of Women of the World. Harnish has dedicated herself to help women in our community improve their skills and give back as citizens.
SVP, CFO North America & MSCQ | BioFire Diagnostics
Andrea Kendell is dedicated, loyal, and values people as the most powerful asset of an organization. Her career has been filled with fortunate opportunities to work with leaders that trusted, mentored, and pushed her to operate outside her comfort zone while growing a successful and dynamic business. She is extremely grateful for the unique opportunity at BioFire to work under a leader who created an environment for her and other strong, talented female leaders to be successful. She attributes her success to being willing and patient to earn the respect and trust of her team and her leaders, being willing to put in the long hours and hard work she asks of others, and being comfortable saying, “I don’t know, but I will find out.”
Naja Pham Lockwood
President and CEO | RYSE Media Ventures
Naja Pham Lockwood is a mother, producer, investor, and collaborator of social change through film and the arts. Born in Vietnam, Lockwood immigrated to Massachusetts during the Fall of Saigon. Founder of RYSE Media, where she promotes the stories of underrepresented and diverse voices. Lockwood served on the Sundance Utah Advisory Board and partnered with Sundance Institute to help build and fund the Sundance Screenwriters Fellowships for Asian American filmmakers. Lockwood is an associate instructor and lecturer at the University of Utah teaching the Power of Storytelling: Asia and the Global Cinema. She currently serves on the Utah Film Commission and Center for Asian American Media (CAAM) board. As a refugee, Lockwood advocates for immigrants with the governor’s Workforce Services and Catholic Community Services in Utah. and serves on the Committee for Ethnic Studies and Asian American Studies at Harvard University and The Coalition for Diverse Harvard. Naja is also the founder and CEO of www.najalockwooddesigns.com, which supports female artisans of Southeast Asia.
CMO | Lendio
Karen Peterson is the CMO of Lendio, the nation’s leading marketplace for small business loans. Before joining Lendio, Peterson served as CMO for BrainStorm, Inc. and spent over a decade at Ancestry, launching the Canadian market and rising to the position of SVP, US Marketing, and interim CMO. As Lendio’s first CMO, Peterson is excited to expand the role of marketing and lead a high-performing team with oversight of brand strategy, demand generation, lifecycle marketing, product marketing, PR, communications, and creative across all divisions of the company. Her passion for Lendio’s mission to provide accessible capital to small business owners is a driving force.
Amy Christensen is a leader who is not afraid to make high-stakes business decisions and actively shape the vision, future, and culture of the organizations she serves. A passionate communicator with a career background in brand marketing, marketing communications, and public relations, as well as a rich history of executive leadership in both business and non-profit service, Christensen believes in honoring the people at the heart of every professional endeavor and loves nothing more than supporting and helping “well tell” the stories of what makes an organization, its clients, and its people special. Christensen is excited about the growing advocacy that ensures women not only have seats at the table but that they take up enough chairs for organizations to more fully benefit from the diversity of talent and vision that women have to offer in every field and industry.
VP, Skills Development Experiences | Pluralsight
Throughout her career, Ai-ling Chang has worked in non-profit, education, and technology. She’s been a career coach, instructor, fundraiser, business development professional, and product leader. The constant thread woven throughout her journey has always been people leadership, strategy, and human-centered design. Chang is passionate about creating a positive impact in the world by helping people (customers, teams, and organizations) discover and reach their potential. She loves to learn what motivates and inspires people and strives to create conditions of psychological safety, learning, and accountability so that teams are supported in doing their best work to move organizations forward.
To learn more about our 2021 honorees, take a look at the videos below and find photos from our event here.