Each year, the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute recognizes individuals and entities that work, often behind the scenes and with little fanfare, to help our community prosper. We call them Informed Decision Makers of the Year and select them based on criteria consistent with the Institute’s committable core values: Responsibility to the community; Research integrity and relevance; accountability; collaboration; and positivity and passion.
“The Gardner Institute is pleased to honor five outstanding individuals and organizations who exemplify a genuine commitment to their community through their work,” said Institute director Natalie Gochnour. “These honorees embody the values that define who we are, how we conduct ourselves, and what comprises our work culture at the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute. We applaud their work ethic, values, and dedication.”
The following individuals and organizations have been awarded the 2022 “Informed Decision Makers of the Year” Award:
Kimmy Paluch, Beta Boom – Viewed against country-wide performance data, diversity in the Utah business sector is lagging behind national averages. Kimmy Paluch’s venture capital firm Beta Boom specializes in backing women- and minority-owned businesses and has long recognized the issues raised by a funding community in Utah, and across the country, which has functioned in a largely homogeneous manner. Kimmy and her colleagues are working to bridge this gap through a business plan focused on equity, diversity, and inclusion.
Gretchen Dietrich, Utah Museum of Fine Arts – With her extensive background working with some of the most prestigious art organizations and foundations in the United States, Gretchen strategically and naturally elevates the important work at the museum with her positive impact on our community. She is known for her “big tent” initiatives and has been in front of equity, diversity, and inclusion for many years. During the COVID-19
pandemic, the museum staff continued multiple programs via Zoom that positively impacted students across the state.
Reef Life Foundation – Reef Life Foundation has funded the research, design, and construction of marine restoration structures that mimic the complex mineral composition of natural coral ecosystems. Headquartered in Utah, the foundation is now scaling delivery systems to reduce the destruction of reefs around the world. Their work to help protect this critical ecosystem has been recognized and highlighted by the United Nations World Ocean Conference.
Hope Corps – Utah’s version of a “Peace Corps,” the Hope Corps was designed to keep the economy thriving during the COVID-19 pandemic by harnessing the power of a strong student workforce to bolster small business. The program was delivered via collaboration between the David Eccles School of Business, the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce, Utah Community Builders, and many other community leaders. During the summer of 2020, more than 300 students received paid internship placement in a variety of Utah businesses.
Utah Multicultural Commission – In the face of significant health and economic health disparities compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Utah Multicultural Commission represented the state’s growing and diverse community with equal doses of professionalism and care. They organized, innovated, spoke out, and focused on problem solving to help shape a better future for all Utahns. As a result, Utah’s multicultural disparities, while significant, were far less than they otherwise would have been.
“We wanted to recognize the amazing unsung heroes in our state who embody the values of the Gardner Institute,” said Chris Redgrave, Gardner Institute Senior Advisor and Chair of the Informed Decision Maker Award committee. “Every year we identify five remarkable leaders and organizations with the Informed Decision Maker of the Year Award who make important contributions to our state.”