Salt Lake Chamber honored business and community leaders at 2021 annual meeting and awards luncheon

Business leaders pay tribute to those who commit their abilities and time to advance the Chamber’s mission and bolster the business community during the pandemic

Utah’s business and community leaders gathered for the Salt Lake Chamber’s 134th Annual Meeting. Attendees recognized Chamber volunteers and community leaders who have shown exemplary support over the past year by committing their time and abilities to advance the Chamber’s mission and bolster the business community.

“Overcoming the challenges of the past year have taken the best of our talents and coming together to solve problems to ensure we fully emerge from the pandemic stronger than ever,” said Derek Miller, president and CEO of the Salt Lake Chamber and Downtown Alliance. “The leadership exemplified by our outgoing Chair Craig Wagstaff, to our mission-driven Chamber team, and allies across the community have inspired many to dig deeper and give more. The important work the Chamber performs to advocate for maintaining our friendly business climate, building capacity in our community and connecting people for the greater good has stood the test of time. I am honored we get to celebrate these leaders of change as they helped us all navigate uncharted territory with steady hands.”

The Chamber recognizes that many of its accomplishments would not be possible without the business leaders of Utah, like those below, who help support and lend their expertise to the organization.

Honorees for the event included the following organizations and individuals:

  • Outgoing Board Chair: Craig Wagstaff, Senior Vice President and General Manager–Western Division, Gas Distribution, Dominion Energy
  • President’s Award for Excellence: Utah Black Chamber
  • Corporate Partners of the Year: Ivory Homes and WCF Insurance
  • Community Partners of the Year: Rich Saunders and Utah Department of Health
  • Board Chair’s Initiative Award: AT&T
  • Small Business of the Year: Saffron Valley Restaurants & Catering
  • Chamber Champions:
    • James Hadlock, Co-Founder and Chief Evangelist, Blunovus
    • Barb Johnson, Commercial Real Estate Advisor, CBRE
    • Ben Kolendar, Director, Department Economic Development, Salt Lake City Corp.
    • Nate McDonald, Deputy Director, Utah Department of Workforce Services
    • Jeff Tiede, Founder and CEO, American Packaging Group, Inc.
    • Miles Romney, Senior Benefits Advisor, Diversified Insurance
    • Sherry Weaver, Associate Director of Sales, Park City

The Salt Lake Chamber Annual Meeting took place on August 31, 2021, at the Little America Hotel. The event theme was “Future in Focus,” as the past year was one that no one could have seen coming, and the Chamber used the opportunity to take stock, look forward, and discuss future focal points for the organization and community. 

Sponsors of the Annual Meeting included Dominion Energy, Intermountain Healthcare and Wells Fargo. Event sponsors included The Boyer Company, Rio Tinto Kennecott, Rocky Mountain Power WCF Insurance, and a supporting sponsor was CBRE.

Learn more on the Salt Lake Chamber website.

Honoree information below:

Outgoing Chair: Craig Wagstaff, senior vice president and general manager–Western Division, Gas Distribution of Dominion Energy.

Craig C. Wagstaff is senior vice president and general manager–Western Division, Gas Distribution. Wagstaff leads the company’s western distribution operations, which include Dominion Energy Utah, Wyoming, Idaho and Wexpro.

He became president–Western Gas Operations with the merger of Questar with Dominion Energy in September 2016, and in August 2017 he was named president–Gas Distribution and oversaw all gas distribution state- regulated businesses across the company’s footprint. He assumed his current post in October 2019.

Wagstaff joined Questar in 1984 and has held various leadership positions throughout his career. He was president of Questar Gas and executive vice president of Questar Corp. Earlier responsibilities included overseeing the utility’s customer service functions, regional distribution operations, public and community relations, economic development and marketing.

Wagstaff serves as board chair of the Salt Lake Chamber, is board director of Western Energy Institute and World Trade Center Utah, is past board chair of EDCUtah, Junior Achievement of Utah, the Utah Red Cross and the Utah Governor’s Advisory Team and Economic Recovery Task Force; and he serves on the advisory boards of the Women’s Leadership Institute and the University of Utah’s David Eccles School of Business.

Wagstaff attended Weber State University and the University of Utah, receiving undergraduate degrees in business and marketing, and holds a master’s degree in organizational leadership and business management from Gonzaga University. He also completed Southern Methodist University Business School’s Energy Leadership Program.

President’s Award for Excellence: Utah Black Chamber

The Utah Black Chamber began in September 2009 to elevate Black Utah through supporting the growth of Black businesses and Black professionals. Over this last year during the civil unrest, the Utah Black Chamber doubled its membership base, including support from many large corporations and business resources. As a result the chamber is aimed to roll out many projects and programs with a stronger platform than ever before, including its upcoming flagship, the Black Success Center. 

Board Chair’s Initiative Award: AT&T

AT&T Inc. is a diversified, global leader in telecommunications, media and entertainment, and technology. Consumers and businesses have more than 225 million monthly subscriptions to our services. AT&T Communications provides more than 100 million U.S. consumers with entertainment and communications experiences across mobile and broadband. Plus, it serves high-speed, highly secure connectivity and smart solutions to nearly 3 million business customers. 

WarnerMedia is a leading media and entertainment company that creates and distributes premium and popular content to global audiences through its consumer brands, including: HBO, HBO Max, Warner Bros., TNT, TBS, truTV, CNN, DC Entertainment, New Line, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim and Turner Classic Movies. 

Xandr, now part of WarnerMedia, provides marketers with innovative and relevant advertising solutions for consumers around premium video content and digital advertising through its platform. AT&T Latin America provides pay-TV services across 10 countries and territories in Latin America and the Caribbean and wireless services to consumers and businesses in Mexico.

Corporate Partners of the Year: Ivory Homes

Ivory Homes is Utah’s Number One Homebuilder® and has been Growing and Changing with Utah™ since 1983, helping more than 20,000 families and individuals achieve homeownership. Today, Ivory Homes provides new homes for every stage of life, offering floor plans and designs, from affordable to fully custom, that fit every lifestyle including luxury apartments, active adult communities, townhomes, small lot cottages, condominiums, and single-family homes. Ivory Homes has led the Utah market for 32 consecutive years, focusing on the company’s mission to build quality homes with lasting value year after year in more than 70 active communities and 35 model home locations across the state of Utah.

Corporate Partners of the Year: WCF Insurance

WCF Insurance is an innovative insurance provider with nationally offered products and services. We are committed to providing excellent customer service, building strong business partnerships and keeping workers safe.

Community Partner of the Year: Rich Saunders

Richard Saunders is Utah’s first chief innovation officer after serving as executive director of the Utah Department of Health (UDOH). Saunders joined the Utah Department of Health in 2015, where he was a consultant in Medicaid. He joined the agency’s executive leadership team in 2017. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Saunders was appointed as chief deputy, and in August 2020, he was appointed as interim executive director. In that role, he served in the leadership of the state’s Unified Command. He was installed as executive director, a role that garnered unanimous Senate approval, in February 2021.

Community Partner of the Year: Utah Department of Health

The mission of the Utah Department of Health is to protect the public’s health through preventing avoidable illness, injury, disability and premature death.

Small Business of the Year: Saffron Valley Restaurants & Catering

Saffron Valley’s mission is to provide authentic, made-from-scratch Indian food using fresh ingredients and exotic flavors that educate and excite the palate while surprising each guest with high quality, personal service steeped in a culture of warmth and hospitality.

The first Saffron Valley restaurant opened in 2011 as Saffron Valley Indian Street Food Café in South Jordan, UT. The second location opened in the Avenues in 2013 as Saffron Valley East India Café. The third Saffron Valley restaurant opened in Sugar House in 2017. The fourth Saffron Valley restaurant opened in Riverton in 2019. 

Saffron Valley has won multiple awards over the years including Best Indian Restaurant by Salt Lake Magazine and Best of State among other recognitions. Most recently, Lavanya Mahate, Founder and Saffron Valley have been featured in Food Network Magazine as part of their “women cooking for good” series.

At a time when the restaurant industry was struggling, the Saffron Valley restaurant group showed resilience and grit by pivoting and adapting to new models and continued to grow the businesses while also providing free meals to SLC homeless individuals and unemployed workers who needed a daily meal.

Saffron Valley strives to give back to the community via culinary training, strengthen the local economy via career opportunities, and develop strong ties with area businesses to support local entrepreneurship.

Chamber Champion: James Hadlock, Co-Founder and Chief Evangelist, Blunovus

Many say James’ superpower is vulnerability, which will move you to laughter, tears, and more importantly, to see differently and take action. Once an award-winning, top entrepreneur, James had one of the fastest growing companies in Utah until mental illness and substance abuse led him to life on the streets and in and out of rehab centers and psychiatric hospitals. 

As an experienced entrepreneur, mental health activist, and executive coach, he’s nationally recognized as one of the most prominent voices advocating for a more connected, supportive, and emotionally healthy workplace. 

Besides being a keynote speaker and transformative coach, he’s also the Co-Founder and Chief Evangelist of Blunovus, an emotional support service and leadership training company that helps organizations like Purple and Divvy move upstream and proactively address life-work well-being on a cultural level. 

Whether you’re a C-Suite executive, HR leader, wellness professional, or company employee, you’ll find that James’ ability to entertain and educate through storytelling and research will inspire you to think and do different. 

James and his wife Alicia are avid Dodger fans and live with 6 of their 9 children in the breathtaking mountains of Midway, Utah. 

Chamber Champion: Barb Johnson, Commercial Real Estate Advisor, CBRE

BARB JOHNSON, CCIM, SIOR is a commercial real estate advisor at CBRE who provides prudent and trusted counsel to publicly traded corporations and private companies seeking to maximize the return on their real estate investments. She is an intuitive, detail-oriented problem solver who informs and supports decision making through a strong research orientation, depth of market knowledge, and state-of-the-art technology. Drawing on her expertise in finance, leadership, and education, Barb consistently structures and executes deals that positively impact profitability, organizational effectiveness, and talent acquisition and retention. She is actively involved in professional organizations and serves as Vice President of the SIOR Foundation Board, providing college scholarships and supporting professional development to enhance diversity, equity and inclusion in commercial real estate. 

Chamber Champion: Ben Kolendar, Director, Department of Economic Development, Salt Lake City Corp.

Benjamin Kolendar is the Director for Salt Lake City’s Department of Economic Development. Prior to his position with the city, Benjamin served as Senior Advisor to the Executive Director of SelectUSA, the government-wide initiative to attract and retain foreign business investment in the United States. As a presidentially appointed official, Benjamin provided guidance to the Executive Director to create jobs, spur economic growth, and promote American competitiveness.

Chamber Champion: Nate McDonald, Deputy Director, Utah Department of Workforce Services

Nate McDonald serves as a deputy director for the Department of Workforce Services. He previously served as the assistant deputy and communication director where he oversaw communications, employer initiatives and the veterans employment team. Prior to joining Workforce Services, he was the associate communication director for the Utah Governor’s Office.

He graduated from Southern Utah University with a master’s degree in public administration and the University of Utah with a bachelor’s degree in mass communication.  

Chamber Champion: Jeff Tiede, Founder and CEO, American Packaging Group, Inc.

Jeffrey Jay Tiede is the founder and CEO of American Packaging Group, Inc., which he started in 1993. He joined the Salt Lake Chamber in 1994 and got involved with the Small Business Roundtable and the Military Affairs Committee. He earned the Small Business of the Year Award from the Chamber in 1998 and a Top 100 Award from Utah Venture Capital. Jeff organized military tours to share with business leaders what our military does for Utah and the nation. Over the years he started or assisted in numerous programs and is the current Chairman of the Military Affairs Committee.  

Jeff joined the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) in 1997 for Military Outreach. He earned two Spirit of Volunteerism Awards, two Seven Seal Awards and numerous Outstanding Performance Awards. In 2014, he was appointed as the State Chairman for six years.  He also had the honor to be a Log Star and Honorary Citizen Commander with the 419th Fighter Wing at Hill Air Force Base.

Chamber Champion: Miles Romney, Senior Benefits Advisor, Diversified Insurance

Miles Romney joined the Diversified Insurance team roughly eight years ago after successfully managing the operations of a small business for more than five years. He thoroughly enjoyed earning a master’s degree in Business Administration with an emphasis in Human Resources from Utah State. Miles has become a trusted advisor to business owners, CFOs, and HR leaders regarding all things Employee Benefits. He devotes his time to working with local and national employers of all sizes.

Chamber Champion: Sherry Weaver, Associate Director of Sales, Park City Resort

Sherry Weaver grew up in Buffalo, New York, and attended Genesee Community College pursuing a degree in Travel and Tourism. On a familiarization trip in December 1989, she discovered the beauty of Utah and moved to Park City the following April to work for a local travel agency. In September of 1992, she began working for Worldspan/Travelport, a global travel distribution company and enjoyed a wonderful 17 year career managing a portfolio consisting of Travel Management Companies. 

In December 2009, she found her true passion, selling the mountain experience. At that time she started with Canyons Resort (now Park City Mountain, a Vail Resort), working with the leisure market. In September 2011, she was offered and accepted an opportunity to work in group sales, focusing on helping clients create a meeting or conference that will leave their attendees with memories that last a lifetime. Most recently she moved into the role of Associate Director of Sales. This leadership position allows Sherry the opportunity to support all aspects, group sales, negotiating and contracting group meetings, executing mountain group services, and developing/executing group sales strategies to achieve overall revenue targets for Vail Resorts as well as creating and maintaining a pipeline of talent within the Vail Enterprise sales group. 

Sherry is also a graduate of 21st Leadership Park City Class and the Leadership Utah Class of 2020. Over the past few years she has had the honor of serving on the Salt Lake Chamber’s Business Women’s Forum Steering Committee (BWF) with 2019-2020 spent serving as the BWF Chair. 

In her spare time, Sherry enjoys alpine skiing, hiking, road and mountain biking, as well as traveling with her husband Tom and two children Sydney (20) and TJ (17). She is also a volunteer for Nuzzles & Co., fostering dogs and helping with the cats up for adoption at Petco. This experience with Nuzzles requires a great deal of restraint as the Weaver Family already enjoys the companionship of two adopted furry family members, Tasha and Cole.