Policymaker Profile: Getting to Know Peter Reichard

Utah Policy regularly profiles policymakers from across the state. This week we profile Peter Reichard, president of the Utah Foundation, an independent, nonpartisan research organization.

Education: Loyola University (BA); Fordham University (MA). 

Growing up: I grew up in New Orleans in a family with four boys and a girl. I was the second youngest. I loved growing up as part of an army of kids. Our parents taught us to appreciate music, literature, and architecture. Our house was a constant renovation zone and the center of activity for neighborhood kids. My dad was a history professor and college administrator; my mom was a psychologist.

Fond memory: I spent afternoons and Sundays with my maternal grandparents. I always had a sense of well-being at their house. My grandmother made me snacks and helped me with my homework. She was a dignified woman, an immigrant from Honduras, who preached good organization and attention to detail. The house was always in perfect order and so quiet you could hear the clocks ticking.

Childhood ambition: To become an architect. Oh well …

Family: I’m married with two kids, a girl (Catalina, 13) and a boy (Augusto, 11). My wife, Cecilia, works in biotech. She’s Colombian, and we travel to Colombia often to visit her parents.

Why politics: I’ve avoided politics for most of my adult life, but I love the “policy” work we do at Utah Foundation. It’s thrilling to dispel misconceptions and pursue the truth wherever it may lead, through facts, analysis and communication of that analysis. What a privilege it is to be able to serve my fellow citizens in this way.

My perfect day: The perfect day happens in a forest, with my wife and kids. Maybe there’s a lake or a river for fishing.

Hobbies: Hiking, reading.

First job: First job in high school was at 15, working at an auto upholstery shop in a rough neighborhood in New Orleans. My first job out of college was as a copy editor at The Times-Picayune.                          

Current motivations: To help Utah seize the current moment — to ensure its continued economic and social strength while steadily improving quality of life.

Lesson taught me by my mother: Those who are willing to make sacrifices bring good to the world.

Hottest issues I’m watching: The tele-revolution — the shift to online work, shopping, business transactions, government, education and health — and all of the policy implications (opportunities and consequences) of those accelerated changes.

Biggest accomplishment: Outside of work, I’m pleased to be able to look back on the renovations of several houses.

Alarm clock: 6 a.m.

Proudest moment: The births of my children.

My philosophy of government: Government can’t solve any problems without understanding them, so don’t impede understanding.

Why my political party: Independent, because I don’t want a party affiliation to color perceptions of Utah Foundation’s work.

Playlist: The Chico Hamilton Quintet (jazz) or Los Tres Reyes (bolero).

Personal motto: Never stop improving.

Most embarrassing moment: I have an unpleasant feeling it’s still yet to come.

Inspiration:  Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn.

Retreat: The Wasatch wilderness near my house.

Favorite book: Democracy in America, Alexis de Tocqueville.

Favorite web site: Well, utahfoundation.org of course!

Indulgence, guilty pleasure: Spending a whole day reading.

Mentor: My mentors have been the late Ray Schroth, my five-time college journalism professor; Kathy Finn, the editor in chief of a business and economics journal where I was an editor; and Janet Howard, former CEO of the Bureau of Governmental Research, where I was director of research.