Past Event: 2023 Annual Luncheon

Date of event:



The Utah Foundation’s 2023 Annual Luncheon took place on Wednesday, September 6th at the Little America Hotel.

2023 Insight Award

The Utah Foundation Insight Award recognizes civic leaders who, through a career of service or philanthropic support, have worked with integrity to provide insights in the public policy arena with the aim of improving government. Recent honorees have included Gail Miller as well as Katharine and Robert Garff. The honorees for 2023 are former senator and representative Patrice Arent and former governor Gary Herbert.

Event speakers

This year’s event focused on the connections across secondary school, college, and career opportunities, including a discussion with:

  • Dean Michelle Camacho from the College of Social and Behavioral Science at the University of Utah.
  • Governor Spencer Cox.
  • Utah System of Higher Education Senior Advisor Jared Haines.
  • Superintendent Rich Nye from Granite School District.
  • Nevaeh Olmedo, a current University of Utah and former Utah Tech University student.

Weber State University President Brad Mortenson moderated for the discussion.

Bios for awardees and speakers are included below.

Highlights in Brief

“Everyday I ask myself what would Gary Herbert do.” -Spencer Cox

“An education is a promise to children… not only a pinky promise, but a sacred promise.” -Richard Nye

“I can summarize USHE’s work in two words: workforce and pathways.” -Jared Haines

“Sometimes we call Utah’s technical colleges ‘Utah’s secret sauce.’” -Jared Haines

“I don’t think I’d be here without the resources I mentioned.” -Neveah Olmedo, taking about the University of Utah’s PATHS program and the gaps and struggles of a first gen and transfer student.

“Truly, the value of an education is being nimble and agile.” -Michelle Camacho

Dean Camacho also talked about high-impact practices: She also discussed the framing of education not as a pipeline or a pathway, but as an ecosystem.

“Grand challenges will not be solved intellectually… We need dynamic, out of the box problem solvers.” -Michelle Camacho

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We couldn’t have pulled off this great event without our sponsors.



Patrice Arent has dedicated most of her professional life to public service. She served in the Utah Senate and House for 20 years, where she passed nearly 90 bills on a wide variety of topics including air quality, elections, health care, and education. Among other accomplishments, she founded and co-chaired the bipartisan Clean Air Caucus and served in Legislative Leadership. Patrice was the first woman and longest serving co-president of the National Association of Jewish Legislators. She was also a Division Chief in the Utah Attorney General’s Office. Patrice is a graduate of the University of Utah and Cornell Law School.

Dr. Michelle Camacho, a bilingual and bicultural Latina, is the first in her family to achieve a college degree. With 30+ years of dedicated advocacy, she focuses on advancing equity in higher education. Holding a Ph.D. from UC Irvine in cultural anthropology, she served as a professor for over 20 years at the University of San Diego, excelling in teaching statistics, research methods, and ethnic studies. Her impactful journey includes directing the $45 million Hispanic Serving Institutions Program for the National Science Foundation and she now leads the College of Social and Behavioral Science at the University of Utah overseeing diverse departments and programs addressing global societal challenges.

Governor Spencer Cox is a husband, father, farmer, recovering attorney, and Utah’s 18th governor. He’s also currently serving as 2023-2024 chairman of the National Governors Association. Gov. Cox has a long track record of public service, serving as a city councilmember, mayor, county commissioner and state legislator before being appointed as Utah’s lieutenant governor in 2013. He was sworn in as governor on Jan. 4, 2021.

Jared Haines is Senior Advisor to the Commissioner at the Utah System of Higher Education. Jared assists and advises the Commissioner on technical education, workforce, institutional support, and other higher education projects and issues. He served 15 years in the Utah System of Technical Colleges as Associate Commissioner and as Interim Commissioner until its 2020 merger with USHE. He was previously a Vice President at Mountainland Technical College where he started as a program developer in 1994. Jared has a Master of Organizational Behavior degree from Brigham Young University, enjoys hiking, camping, and music. He is most proud of his five children and almost ten grandchildren.

Gary R. Herbert was Utah’s 17th governor from 2009 to 2021. During his tenure, his relentless focus on economic development resulted in Utah being recognized as the number one economy in America. Herbert currently dedicates his time establishing the Gary R. Herbert Institute for Public Policy at Utah Valley University. The Institute works to develop future policy leaders. Herbert and his wife Jeanette are the proud parents of six children and seventeen grandchildren.

Dr. Brad L. Mortensen became the 13th president of Weber State University in January 2019, after serving in several leadership positions at WSU since 2004. Prior to coming to WSU, Brad worked in the public policy arena for the Utah System of Higher Education, Utah Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget, Arizona Joint Legislative Budget Committee, and two policy fellowships with the Western Interstate Cooperative for Higher Education and the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education. A first-generation college graduate, Brad holds several degrees, including a doctoral degree in educational leadership and policy from the University of Utah, master’s degree in public administration from Syracuse University, bachelor’s degree in political science from Utah State University, and an associate of arts and sciences from Ricks College. Brad and his wife Camille, are from Madison County, Idaho and have four children including three with degrees from Weber State.

Dr. Richard Nye was appointed Superintendent of Granite School District in July of 2021. Prior to his appointment, Dr. Nye served as superintendent of Ogden School District, Utah State Board of Education deputy superintendent, director of Assessment, Curriculum & Data at Ogden School District, and various administrative, research, and consulting positions. Dr. Nye began his career as a science teacher at Rocky Mountain Junior High where he fell in love with the teaching profession. He holds a bachelor’s degree in History, two master’s degrees, a Ph.D. in Teacher Education & Leadership, and a Certificate of Education Finance. He and his wife Lara have three children.

Nevaeh Olmedo is a senior at the University of Utah pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Economics with a minor in Writing and Rhetoric. She has worked in child and educational advocacy where she developed a passion for education equity. Nevaeh enjoys reading and writing about education and social policy in her spare time. She is also involved in numerous organizations that support educational equity and underserved communities.