Team & Contact Information


Utah Women & Leadership Project
Jon M. Huntsman School of Business
Utah State University
3550 Old Main Hill
Logan, UT 84322-3550

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Dr. Susan Madsen

Susan Madsen

Founder and Director, Utah Women & Leadership Project | Inaugural Karen Haight Huntsman Endowed Professor of Leadership

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Dr. Susan R. Madsen is the Karen Haight Huntsman Endowed Professor of Leadership in the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business at Utah State University. She is also the Founding Director of the Utah Women & Leadership Project, which focuses on strengthening the impact of Utah girls and women through increasing college completion rates and helping girls and women find their voices and become leaders. Professor Madsen and her team have written many Utah research and policy briefs, research snapshots, impact reports, newspaper editorials, and other resources. They host 20-30 events each year to support the mission of their work.

Susan is also a well-known global scholar, authoring or editing eight books and publishing hundreds of articles, chapters, and reports. Madsen’s research has been featured in the U.S. News and World Report, The Atlantic, The New York Times, Parenting Magazine, Chronicle of Higher Education, The Washington Post, and she is a regular contributor to Forbes. She is a well-known speaker in local, national, and international settings. For example, she has presented at the New York Times, Argentina Parliament Palace, House of Commons in England, Lithuania President’s Palace, and NGO sessions at the United Nations. She serves on or advises many nonprofit, community, and education boards and committees, including the Utah Governor’s One Utah Roadmap,, Real Women Run, Silicon Slopes, Envision Utah, United Way of Utah County, South Davis County Communities that Care, Utah Financial Empowerment Coalition, Utah Women’s Health Coalition, Better Days 2020, KUER Radio, and more. Dr. Madsen received a bachelor’s degree from BYU, masters from Portland State, and a doctorate from the University of Minnesota. She and her husband Greg are the proud parents of four adult children and two grandchildren.

For more detailed information about Dr. Madsen, see her detailed bio and her CV. For more information about her writing and speaking, check out her LinkedIn articles, UWLP "In the News," speaking and consulting website, and her Forbes articles. Also, join her on social media: LinkedInTwitterFacebook, and Instagram.

Angie Kleven

Angie Kleven

Statewide Community Outreach Manager, Utah Women & Leadership Project

Angie Kleven is passionate about empowering and educating women and youth so they can become the best versions of themselves regardless of their circumstances, experiences, and history. She raised three children as a single parent in Las Vegas and has experienced many of the struggles women face as they work to create the life they need, want, and deserve. In 2009, she co-founded RISE Education Resource Center, a nonprofit dedicated to providing space, support, mentoring, and advocacy for all educational options with an emphasis on charter schools and homeschooling.  Once RISE was on its feet, in 2012, she co-founded and managed Leadership Academy of Nevada, an online public charter school, to bring a classical liberal arts education to students in grades 6-12 throughout the Silver State, with a mission to help students become principled leaders. While she dedicated most of her time and efforts to educating her children and others, she also prioritized her own education and earned a bachelor’s degree in Business from the University of Phoenix and a master’s degree in Management & Leadership from Western Governors University. Over the last year, she has worked in higher education at Ensign College as an adjunct instructor in the business department and as an instructional designer. Angie’s experiences demonstrate just how important it is for women to help each other by providing mentoring and support, opening doors to opportunities, sharing resources, making connections, and shifting paradigms because the women around her propelled her forward, cheered her on, and sustained her on her journey. 

Kylie Downs

Kylie Downs

Program Assistant, Utah Women & Leadership Project

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Kylie is a Cache Valley native and USU alum. Prior to joining the Utah Women & Leadership Project, she worked at the University of Hawaii as an event coordinator for the William S. Richardson School of Law and spent five years working at USU Event Services, where she coordinated a variety of large-scale conferences and events. Kylie has served in several leadership positions on the Women in Business - Cache Valley board.

Kylie loves to travel, spend time with her family, and the Utah Jazz.

Raelynn Randall

Raelynn Randall

Graduate Research Assistant, Utah Women & Leadership Project

Rae is a Human Resources Masters Student from Las Vegas, Nevada and a graduate research assistant for the Utah Women & Leadership Project. She obtained a bachelor's degree from Utah State University with a focus in Anthropology, HR, and Folklore. She loves helping people find jobs as well as start their own businesses. Her passion is studying culture in the workplace as it pertains to employee motivation, satisfaction, and equality in the workplace. Rae is experienced in marketing, leadership, professional writing, and research. While working as an Undergraduate Research Fellow, she co-authored a paper that has been submitted for publication and she has extensive experience in public speaking. She consistently steps up in her community as a leader and is excited to be a part of a project where she can help other women do the same. 

Abby Chafin

Abby Chafin

Graduate Research Assistant, Utah Women & Leadership Project

Abby is a graduate research assistant for the Utah Women & Leadership Project and a student in the Master of Human Resources program at Utah State University. She received her bachelor's degree in psychology from Utah State University with a minor in both human resource management and human and family development. Abby is passionate about education, business, leadership, and human behavior. She has experience in mental healthcare, recruiting and onboarding, leadership, and research. Having the opportunity to gain an education and pursue a career that she loves has been a challenging and rewarding experience, and these experiences have instilled in her a longing to help other women find the desire and courage to pursue their goals and dreams.

Denise Call

Denise Call

Graduate Research Assistant, Utah Women & Leadership Project


After raising a family, Denise returned to Weber State University to pursue a masters degree in the field of professional communication. She is a graduate research assistant for the Utah Woman and Leadership Project at Utah State University. She received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Communication from Weber State University with an emphasis in Organizational Communication. Denise earnestly engages in school by applying her community leadership experience to the MPC program goals.

Inspired by strong women in her life, including her five adult daughters, Denise recognizes opportunities for women to excel as leaders regardless of the title of their roles. Coupling her life experience with her love of learning, she seeks to work with organizations where she can collaborate and generate positive changes in leadership, communication and work culture. She has experience in community service, research, focus group facilitation, and program organization.

Denise and her husband live in Ogden and are parents to seven children and three grandchildren.

Elizabeth Smith

Elizabeth Smith

Undergraduate Research Assistant, Utah Women & Leadership Project

Elizabeth is a student at Utah State University studying Accounting in the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business. She helps prepare event materials, assists with general office duties, and maintains databases and records.

Her hobbies include taking her dog on walks around the neighborhood, spending quality time with her family, and slalom skiing in Lake Powell. During the winter months, she can be found snow skiing on one of Utah’s many beautiful mountains or cuddled up next to the fireplace watching a rom-com. 

She is proud to be an Aggie and feels privileged to be helping the UWLP.

Research Team

Robbyn Scribner

Robbyn Scribner

Research Fellow & Former Assistant Director, Utah Women & Leadership Project | Co-Founder & Director of Outreach, Tech-Moms

Robbyn Scribner is a women's labor force expert, consultant, and career coach. She is Co-Founder and Director of Outreach for Tech-Moms, a workforce reentry program that helps women transition into the tech industry. Robbyn is also a regular keynote speaker and presenter focusing on women’s professional development. A prolific researcher and writer on women’s issues, she has published more than 50 reports, articles, or snapshots on a wide variety of topics, including labor force participation, the gender wage gap, male allies, workplace flexibility, and women’s careers. She holds Master’s and Bachelor degrees from Brigham Young University, and she is a Gallup Certified Strengths Coach. Robbyn has a special interest in researching and writing about women’s work life integration, highlighting the challenges women face in trying to balance work and family responsibilities, while advocating for creative solutions to advance women’s professional wellbeing. A mother of 6 rowdy kids, Robbyn loves to play volleyball, sing, and hike in the beautiful Utah mountains. 

Dr. April Townsend

 April Townsend

Research Fellow, Utah Women & Leadership Project | Owner, Townsend Consulting

Dr. April Townsend is a Research Fellow focusing on research studies, literature reviews and data analysis. She has 30 years of extensive experience working with government organizations, where she has held leadership and top management positions for the last 21 years. Her focus has been on organizational effectiveness, leadership development, strategic leadership and financial accountability. Dr. Townsend has led organizational initiatives and cultural change efforts that increased transparency and transformed operational systems.

April received her doctorate in education with an emphasis on organizational leadership from Northeastern University, where her dissertation research explored the journeys of women in top leadership roles within government organizations. Dr. Townsend is interested in bringing the theoretical aspects of leadership into practical application. She actively mentors and develops the leadership skills of the women and men with whom she works and has shared her broad experience and research through numerous trainings in the public sector on coaching and mentoring, effective leadership through developing strengths, change management, and social and emotional intelligence.

Dr. Townsend is committed to diversifying the ranks of leadership through increasing the presence of women. She directed the development of an Employees' University training program and was recognized as one of Utah's 2016 American Graduate Champions for her mentorship efforts and for founding the Women's Leadership Forum, which provides women in local government an opportunity for leadership skill development.

Dr. Paula Smith

Paula Smith

Research Fellow, Utah Women & Leadership Project | Associate Professor, University of Utah

Dr. Paula Smith is a developmental psychologist with expertise in school-based prevention in middle and high schools. Her primary research interests lie at the intersection of schools and juvenile justice systems - the school-to-prison pipeline, juvenile justice, restorative justice, and access to mental health resources. Secondarily, she is also the Principal Investigator of a research initiative to improve the quality of doctoral socialization for Black graduate students; addressing the ways in which anti-Black racism permeates academia. 

Professionally, Dr. Smith is a Board Member for the Society of Prevention Research, the National Prevention Science Coalition, and the Chair of the Utah Prevention Research Group. She advocates for socially just and equitable policies and practices in PK-12 schools and other youth-serving agencies.

Dr. Chris Hartwell

Chris Hartwell

Research Fellow, Utah Women & Leadership Project | Associate Professor of Management, Utah State University

Christopher J. Hartwell is an Associate Professor of Management in the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business at Utah State University. His research focuses on employee selection, talent management, and the use of technology in organizations. He has published in high-quality academic journals such as Journal of Applied Psychology, Journal of World Business, Personnel Psychology, and Journal of Vocational Behavior. Chris has held a variety of professional positions in the field of human resources and is a Senior Certified Professional with the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM-SCP). He received his Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management from the Krannert School of Management at Purdue University. He consults with organizations on various human resources topics, including recruitment & selection, inclusive diversity, onboarding, effective leadership, and developing successful organizational teams.

Dr. Jessi Hill

Jessi  Hill

Research Fellow, Utah Women & Leadership Project | Associate Professor of Psychology, Utah Valley University

Dr. Jessica C. Hill earned a Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology from Florida State University and an M.A. in Visual Cognition and Human Performance from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champagin. Her research on perceptions of women in leadership within Utah prompted the creation of the Utah Women's Leadership Exchange (UWLE), which she co-founded with Dr. Nancy Hauck and Dr. Liz Hitch and co-directs with Dr. Hauck and Dr. Julie Hartley. Other research interests include lifespan development of attention and executive control as measured through eye movements; novice instructor preparation and training; and the scholarship of teaching and learning in psychology.

Dr. Hill has published in Developmental Psychology (H-index 182) and has been invited to publish internationally in Pratiques Psychologiques. She received the first National Science Foundation Major Research Instrumentation grant at Utah Valley University and has received recognition for her research from UVU's Office of Sponsored Programs, an award for research from the Biennial International Seminar on the Teaching of Psychological Science, and the Dean's Award for Faculty Excellence in Research from the College of Humanities and Social Science. Dr. Hill has also been recognized for outstanding teaching by being awarded the UVU Faculty Excellence Award and a Best Online Delivery award from UVU’s Office of Teaching and Learning, both in 2020.

Carrie Mayne

Carrie Mayne

Research Fellow, Utah Women & Leadership Project | Associate Commissioner for Workforce & Institutional Research, Utah System of Higher Education

Carrie Mayne is the Associate Commissioner for Workforce and Institutional Research. Formerly, Mayne was the Chief Economist and Director of Workforce Research and Analysis at Utah’s Department of Workforce Services, where she was employed for 14 years. She and her staff produced a wide array of tools to aid the public in understanding the state’s workforce. Mayne is a member of the Utah Economic Council and the Governor’s Child Support Guidelines Advisory Committee. She holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Utah and is working toward completing her doctorate in the same field. Her areas of expertise include labor economics, econometrics, and statistics.

Dr. Chloe Bhowmick

Chloe Bhowmick

Research Fellow, Utah Women & Leadership Project | Post Doctoral Fellow, The Partridge Group

Dr. Chloe Bhowmick completed her bachelor’s degree in psychology with minors in anthropology and business at San Jose University. She earned her Ph.D. at Palo Alto University in clinical psychology, primarily focusing her clinical work and research in forensic psychology, neuropsychology, and trauma. Her clinical experience during graduate school included working with persons involved in the criminal justice system and veterans. In addition, Dr. Bhowmick has worked in a variety of research settings during her graduate training, most prominently at the National Center of Posttraumatic Stress - Dissemination and Training Division located within the Veteran Affairs (VA) Palo Alto Health Care System. A California native, she moved to Utah to complete her predoctoral internship at the VA Salt Lake Health Care System. She is a current post doctoral fellow at The Partridge Group, a police psychology practice, where she conducts a variety of evaluations and psychotherapy services for public safety officers and candidates.

While Dr. Bhowmick was completing her graduate training, she was engaged in various community service efforts. This included participating in a young professionals community service club (Peninsula Young Professionals) for two years, becoming the vice president her last year with this organization. During this time she provided lectures on various mental health topics to the community, including trauma and suicide.

Dr. Bhowmick is excited to incorporate her work with the Utah Women and Leadership Project and their advocacy efforts into the next phase of her career. As a California native, she enjoys exploring her new home (and learning how to be in the outdoors), reading, and (when it was safe to do so) attending live music events.

Dr. Maya Miyairi

Maya Miyairi

Research Fellow, Utah Women & Leadership Project | Associate Professor, Kinesiology & Health Science, Utah State University – Brigham City

Maya is an Associate Professor of Health Promotion and Education in the Department of Kinesiology and Health Science at Utah State University - Brigham City campus. She received her master’s degree in Exercise and Sport Science and her doctoral degree in Health Promotion and Education at the University of Utah. Since she started her faculty position at USU in 2013, she has taught undergraduate courses for community health and health science programs through interactive video conference (IVC) and online. Her research interests include 1) Weight stigma and bias (e.g., Weight-based Bullying), 2) Innovative health promotion practices (e.g., Health at Every Size [HAES]®), and 3) social justice issues (e.g., Clery Act, Aging).

Dr. Jared M. Hansen

Jared  M. Hansen

Research Fellow, Utah Women & Leadership Project | Associate Professor of Marketing, Utah State University

Dr. Jared M. Hansen is an Associate Professor of Marketing in the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business at Utah State University. He was previously an Associate Professor of Marketing in the Belk College of Business at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.  

Dr. Hansen is passionate about engaging in research that advances knowledge related to the psychological empowerment, meaningfulness, decision making, and performance of leaders, employees, and consumers. He also enjoys engaging in research on entrepreneurial competitiveness, firm strategy and marketing, and business and society topics such as ethics and social responsibilities. He is excited by the mission of the UWLP to create and share research that informs, inspires, and ignites growth and change for all Utahns.  

He received his PhD at the Rawls College of Business at Texas Tech University, an MBA from the Marriott School of Management at Brigham Young University, and a BS degree from the Fulton College of Engineering at Brigham Young University. Jared worked for a few years in the corporate buying office of Walmart in Bentonville, Arkansas where he paid close attention to the stories and advice of the business executives of hundreds of different manufacturers and other organizations that he interacted with; he also paid close attention to the observed behaviors of consumers and employees in many stores while traveling around the country visiting different markets. He believes you can learn something precious from anyone if you pay attention. Some of his most cherished memories and research insights have come while traveling abroad as he has taught courses at universities/campuses in Mexico, England, Germany, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. He continues to work with many organizations providing speaking, consultation, analysis, and executive education on a variety of topics.  

He and his wife Tracy are the parents of five children. He loves spending time enjoying the amazing diverse landscape of Utah, from skiing to biking to fishing to hiking, and time engaged in wood carving wall art and gardening/landscaping.  

Dr. Emily Swensen Darowski

Emily Swensen Darowski

Research Fellow, Utah Women & Leadership Project | Assistant Librarian, Brigham Young University

Emily Swensen Darowski is an Assistant Librarian in the Lee Library at Brigham Young University. Her PhD from Michigan State University examined the role of motivation in effortful self-regulation. Other research interests include developing writing interventions that help college students synthesize information across scholarly sources and better understanding the relationship between higher order-cognitive processes such as working memory and reading. Because of her recent involvement in a study examining gender equity in the Lee Library—and drawing on her own experiences navigating work-life balance—she seeks to empower and encourage women to pursue education and enhance their influence across the many spheres of life.  

Dr. Claudia Geist

Claudia Geist

Research Fellow, Utah Women & Leadership Project | Associate Professor, University of Utah

Dr. Claudia Geist is an Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology and the Division of Gender Studies at the University of Utah. She also is a faculty affiliate with the Division of Family studies. She currently serves as Associate Dean for Research for the School for Cultural and Social Transformation. After her undergraduate studies at the University of Mannheim in Germany, she received a Ph.D. In Sociology from Indiana University and was a Postdoctoral Scholar at the Carolina Population Center at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. 

Dr. Geist is interested in the connections between economic circumstances, family, and the various dimensions of gender. She studies the division of household labor and family planning. She also examines attitudes towards gender and sexuality and the link between mental health and how others perceive one’s gender with multiple collaborators.

Dr. Julie L. Valentine

Julie L. Valentine

Research Fellow, Utah Women & Leadership Project | PhD, RN, CNE, SANE-A, FAAN, Associate Dean & Associate Professor, Brigham Young University, College of Nursing


Dr. Julie L. Valentine is an Associate Dean and Associate Professor at Brigham Young University College of Nursing and certified sexual assault nurse examiner with Wasatch Forensic Nurses. Her research focus areas are sexual violence, intimate partner violence, and criminal justice system response to sexual violence. Dr. Valentine focuses on collaborative research studies uniting disciplines in sexual assault case reform to benefit victims and case processing. She developed a growing dataset of ~8,000 sexual assault cases tracking information from evidence collection through DNA analysis – the largest database of its kind. Findings from this database have informed state and national policies and interdisciplinary practices. Dr. Valentine is very active in using her expertise and research to inform legislative policy.

Dr. Valentine was appointed to the National Institute of Justice Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence Reporting (SAFER) Act Working Group in the development of national best practice policies in sexual assault cases, National Best Practices in Sexual Assault Kits: A Multidisciplinary Approach (2017). Dr. Valentine is primary author of three awarded federal grants since 2015 totaling 3.45 million dollars.

Dr. Valentine has served in a variety of roles within the International Association of Forensic Nurses (IAFN), from Utah Chapter President to Director-At-Large for International Board of Directors (2020 to present). Additionally, Dr. Valentine created a middle-range forensic nursing theory, the Constructed Theory of Forensic Nursing Care to serve as an international framework for forensic nursing education, practice and research. Dr. Valentine was inducted as a Fellow into the American Academy of Nursing in 2020.

Dr. Leslie Miles

Leslie Miles

Research Fellow, Utah Women & Leadership Project | DNP, PMHNP-BC, Associate Professor, Brigham Young University, College of Nursing


Dr. Leslie Miles, DNP, PMHNP-BC is an Associate Professor at Brigham Young University College of Nursing and certified psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner. Her research focus areas are sexual violence, criminal justice system response to sexual violence and addressing needs for those with mental illness in our communities, and global health. Dr. Miles has partnered with Dr. Julie Valentine to develop an expanding data base of (~8,000 sexual assault cases) tracking information from evidence collection through DNA analysis. Findings have informed state and national policies in a variety of interdisciplinary professions. Dr. Miles is co-author on a National Institute of Justice $250,000 grant for assessment of sexual assault kit (SAK) evidence leading to development of SAK evidence machine model. Since 2005, Dr. Miles has been a designated civil court examiner for the State of Utah and maintains her clinical expertise in the public mental health system (Wasatch Behavioral Health) and private practice.

Dr. Miles has presented internationally, nationally and locally on mental health issues and the impact of sexual assault on our communities. A recent invited State of Utah report, Mental health treatments for adolescent/adult victims of sexual assault: Systematic literature review was completed. This evidence based report will be utilized by the Utah Office for Victims of Crime (UVOC) to collaborate with the UVOC work group to develop recommendations for screening for services, resources for consumers and treatment plans for victims of sexual assault.

Dr. Sojung Lim

Sojung Lim

Research Fellow, Utah Women & Leadership Project | Associate Professor of Sociology, Director of Yun Kim Population Research Laboratory, Utah State University

Dr. Lim is an Associate Professor of Sociology in the department of Sociology & Anthropology at Utah State University.

She joined the department in 2013 after receiving her Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Dr. Lim’s research focuses on the causes, processes, and consequences of a growing inequality across individuals, families, and different social contexts with particular interests in changes in family, labor market, and health disparity.

Currently she is engaged in several research projects examining 1) the impact of recent labor market changes (e.g., deteriorating job quality and increasing nonstandard employment) on individuals and families in the U.S. and East Asia; 2) cross-national research on family changes and inequality in Europe, the U.S. and Asia; 3) family and gender inequality in Utah and Intermountain Region; and 4) determinants and mechanisms of health disparity in the U.S. and Asia. 

Dr. Lim’s research has been published in various journals such as Journal of Marriage and Family, Population Studies, Demographic Research, Social Science Research, and Research in the Sociology of Work. She also serves on or advises multiple committees and organization, and currently serves as the president for the Association of Korean Sociologists in America and the Director of Yun Kim Population Research Laboratory at Utah State University.

For more detailed information about Dr. Lim, please visit

Dr. Maritza Sotomayor

Maritza Sotomayor

Research Fellow, Utah Women & Leadership Project | Assistant Chair Finance and Economics & Associate Professor, Woodbury School of Business, Utah Valley University

Dr. Maritza Sotomayor is an Associate Professor of Economics in the Woodbury School of Business at Utah Valley University, where she has been teaching since 2009. She currently serves as the Assistant Chair for the Finance and Economics department.

She completed her Ph.D. at the Universidad Autonoma de Barcelona, Spain. Her M.A. is from the Centro de Investigacion y Docencia Economicas (CIDE) in Mexico City, Mexico, and her B.A. is from the Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Peru (PUCP) in Lima, Peru.

She has taught undergraduate and graduate-level courses in different formats, face-to-face, online, hybrid, small, and large sections. She received the 2017 Excellence in Teaching Award. She is a Senior Fellow for the Higher Education Academy  (SFHEA) since 2019.

Her primary research interest is on international trade issues, from the effects of regional integration in developing countries, intra-industry trade measurement, global value chains to comparative studies. She is the co-author of "Global Manufacturing Production: An Analysis and Determinants for Mexico's Trade in Value-Added." (Journal of International Applied Economics, 2020). She completed a report about the Human Development Index (HDI), the Inequality-adjusted Human Development Index (IHDI) the Gender Development Index (GDI), and the Gender Inequality Index for Utah and counties for 2014 and 2019.

Dr. Lisa Diamond

Lisa Diamond

Research Fellow, Utah Women & Leadership Project | Professor of Psychology and Gender Studies, University of Utah


Lisa M. Diamond is Professor of Psychology and Gender Studies at the University of Utah.  For over 25 years, she has studied the development and expression of gender and sexuality across the life course.  Her current work focuses on the biobehavioral mechanisms through which social stigma, social stress, and social safety shape the health and well-being of sexually-diverse and gender-diverse individuals at different stages of development.  Dr. Diamond is best known for her research on sexual fluidity, which describes the capacity for individuals to experience unexpected shifts in sexual identity and expression over time.  Her 2008 book, Sexual Fluidity, published by Harvard University Press, has been awarded the Distinguished Book Award from the American Psychological Association’s Society for the Study of LGBTQ Issues. Dr. Diamond is also co-editor of the first-ever APA Handbook of Sexuality and Psychology, published in 2014, and is a fellow of two divisions of the APA.  She has published over 130 articles and book chapters, and has been invited to present her research at nearly 140 national and international Universities and conferences. Dr. Diamond has received awards for her work from the Developmental Psychology and LGBT Psychology Divisions of the APA, the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, the International Association for Relationship Research, the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality, and the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues.

Lillian Tsosie-Jensen

Lillian Tsosie-Jensen

Research Fellow, Utah Women & Leadership Project | Executive Director, Olta’ Leadership and Development

Lillian Tsosie-Jensen born Yellow Woman, member of the Dineh’ Nation. Her clan is Bitter Water, born for the Danish People. At a young age she followed her grandfather’s tribal leadership and her grandfather’s healing pathway. Lillian is an artist, activist, writer, Sundancer, and piper carrier. At an early age, Lillian understood ceremonies play an important role in the overall wellbeing of traditional Indigenous people. After navigating two cultures, the influence of traditional practices has balance out the academic life. Lillian is best known for her services on the Utah Education Task Force for Native American/Alaska Native Education, the Governor’s Native American Summit, and the Governor’s Task for Women in Education; Coalition of Minority Advisory Committee; Indian Walk-In Center; Utah School Counseling Association; Utah Coalition of Childhood Protection; the Utah Attorney General’s Safety and Crisis Tip Line/SafeUT Commission. Lillian also an award-winning educator. Her past work experience includes administrator of educational programs, specialist, coordinator, and program director at the Utah State Board of Education, and Equity, Justice, and Inclusion director at Weber School District. Lillian currently serves on the Governor’s Multicultural Commission and is work with Restoring Ancestral Winds Coalition as a Community and Educational Specialist. 

Dr. Levi Pace

Levi Pace

Research Fellow, Utah Women & Leadership Project | Senior Research Economist, Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute


Levi Pace is a senior research economist who writes about industries and populations on behalf of community stakeholders in Utah. His recent publications arose from collaborations on renter demographics, industrial banking, racial economic disparities, and national park visitor spending. Previously, Dr. Pace presented in-depth studies on the statewide economic and fiscal impacts of the life sciences and tech sectors. Other research areas include fintech, health care, public lands, education outcomes, access to child care, income inequality, and veterans.

Related to his data analysis for these projects, Pace teaches quantitative methods in the University of Utah’s Master of Public Policy program. Prior to joining the Gardner Institute, he taught economic history and theory courses for the University of Utah’s Department of Economics, Weber State University, and Westminster College.

Pace received a bachelor’s degree in history from Alice Lloyd College and a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Utah. As a graduate assistant, he researched state and local tax policy on campus and for the Utah Legislature. His dissertation explored bankruptcy policy and individual insolvency.

Dr. Kristy Hodson

Kristy Hodson

Research Fellow, Utah Women & Leadership Project | Professor of Professional Communication and Leadership, Western Governors University


Dr. Kristy Hodson is a Course Instructor and faculty member at Western Governors University in the College of Health Professions. Dr. Hodson obtained a bachelor’s degree in Finance and Economics from Utah State University, her master’s degree in Psychology from Utah State University, and her EdD in Organizational Change and Leadership from the University of Southern California. Her dissertation was entitled Reducing Misdiagnosis in Mental Health Professions and was centered around the benefits of focusing on the brain in treating and diagnosing mental health conditions.

Dr. Hodson’s past research focused on emotional intelligence, resilience, mental health, neuroscience, affective learning, communication, gender equality, and leadership. Dr. Hodson is passionate about challenging mental mindsets and empowering individuals and organizations to achieve optimal outcomes. Kristy is also passionate about raising awareness of women’s issues in Utah and empowering all women regardless of their circumstances.

Candice Pierucci

Candice Pierucci

Research Associate, Utah Women & Leadership Project | Representative, Utah House of Representatives

Candice Pierucci is the youngest serving female legislator in the history of Utah and currently the youngest serving legislator. Representative Pierucci serves District 52 (Riverton, Herriman, South Jordan) and replaced Representative Knotwell after his resignation in 2019. After being elected by the delegates in her district, Candice was appointed by Governor Gary R. Herbert to the Utah House of Representatives. Rep. Pierucci currently serves on the following committees: Health and Human Services and Government Operations, and Interim Higher Education Appropriations.

Prior to her legislative service Candice worked as the Development Director for Sutherland Institute, a conservative think tank that focuses on faith, family and free-markets. Previous to working at Sutherland, Candice was the Director of Community Relations for Congressman Chris Stewart.

Candice is the Vice President of Professional Republican Woman and over the years has worked on presidential, congressional, and local campaigns. Pierucci is a former board member and flight leader for Utah Honor Flight, a non-profit dedicated to taking veterans to visit their monuments in Washington, DC.

Candice received her Bachelor’s degree in Political Science with an emphasis in American Government from Utah Valley University and her Master’s Degree in Public Administration from the University of Utah. Previously, Candice was a research associate with the Utah Women Leadership Project and co-authored briefs on the status of Utah women in politics, non-profits and business. Candice has since conducted research on women in politics, specifically on republican women serving in state legislatures.

Cindy Jenkins

Cindy Jenkins

Research Associate, Utah Women & Leadership Project | Extension Assistant Professor, Utah State University

Cindy is an Extension Assistant Professor with Utah State University in Utah County for the Home & Community area. In her position, she builds programs, classes, and research that enrich the lives of community members, specifically those in Utah County. In previous positions, Cindy has helped build the community outreach program for Mountainland Head Start as well as the Hispanic Outreach program for the American Red Cross. She earned her masters degree in Public Administration and a bachelors degree in Fitness and Wellness from BYU. Cindy is thrilled to help further the work of the Utah Women & Leadership Project. When she takes time away from work, Cindy enjoys time in the great outdoors, especially hiking or kayaking. She also enjoys singing in the Lux community choir and dabbling with water color painting and glass fusing.

Trish Hatch

Trish Hatch

Research Associate, Utah Women & Leadership Project | Administrator, Clark and Christine Ivory Foundation

Trish Hatch is excited for this opportunity to work with Dr. Susan Madsen and the USU Utah Women & Leadership Project community. Dr. Madsen’s work has and continues to influence her attitude and perspective as a Utah woman.

Trish is the administrator for the Clark and Christine Ivory Foundation, and formerly with the Women’s Leadership Institute. She is on the board of the non-profit organization, Girls on the Run Utah, serving a term as board chair, she is also working with West Jordan City Family Court and the Guardian Ad Litem’s office as Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) and is in her second term as a commissioner on the West Jordan Planning Commission. She received her BA in communications with an emphasis in public speaking from Brigham Young University.

As one of the founding members of the Women’s Leadership Institute, Trish was instrumental in creating curriculum for the Political Development Series, a six-month course designed to teach women how and why they need to run for public office. She also worked closely with leadership to provide resources and research to corporations to build the case on why women in leadership makes a difference and how a diverse executive team benefits the corporation from every vantage.

Trish’s ten years with Girls on the Run has reinforced how instrumental it is to teach young girls’ confidence, inner strength, empathy, and the life skills needed to navigate their future. Their research-based curricula taught over a ten-week program establishes a lifetime of appreciation for others, how to accomplish a difficult goal (running a 5k) and how each girl has the power to achieve.

Trish is fascinated by the perception Utah women have of themselves and their peers; how they see their role in society, with their families, their personal potential, and their leadership capabilities. Trish is impassioned about women understanding their possibilities and the barriers, perceived and real, that prevent advancement.

Trish is a proud Canadian, raised in Calgary, Alberta. She shares her life with her husband, four children and their spouses, ten grandchildren and two labradoodles. She is dedicated to creating a better place for future generations and helping girls thrive and reach their potential.

Hannah Payne

Hannah Payne

Research Associate, Utah Women & Leadership Project | Quality Improvement Specialist, University of Utah Health

Hannah Payne is a Quality Improvement Specialist with the University of Utah Health, working with health care administrators, physicians, and clinical staff to improve healthcare and clinical outcomes for patients in primary care. Hannah graduated with her Master of Public Health (MPH) from Brigham Young University and has a broad background in public health, with experience working in governmental health, healthcare technology, international health nonprofits, and healthcare administration. She is an experienced public health researcher with 15+ papers published in the scientific literature on a variety of public health topics, including women's international health, health behavior and technology, food insecurity, and public health theoretical models. Hannah also formerly worked as a coder for the Woman Stats Project, a project dedicated to investigating the link between the security and behavior of states and the situation and security of the women within them. She lives in Salt Lake City with her husband and loves traveling and the outdoors. 

Kaitlyn Pieper

Kaitlyn Pieper

Research Associate, Utah Women & Leadership Project | Director of Community Policy, Salt Lake Chamber

Kaitlyn is the Director of Community Policy at the Salt Lake Chamber, where she leads out on housing affordability efforts, supports rural engagement initiatives, and strengthens community partnerships. She was involved in Hope Corps' vanguard program, as the liaison for minority and women-owned businesses. In previous positions, Kaitlyn has worked in translation services - both as an interpreter in the local community and as a translation manager, where she travelled globally to deliver training. She has also regularly taught university courses on world literature. Kaitlyn earned her masters degree from SOAS, University of London, with a focus in Turkish Studies and Religion. She speaks 5 languages and enjoys pottery, poetry, and cycling.

Heather Sundahl

Heather Sundahl

Research Associate, Utah Women & Leadership Project | Writer, Editor, Contributor, & Blogger

Heather Sundahl is a writer and editor for the Utah Women & Leadership Project at Utah State University, Brigham Young University Arts, and Mormon Women for Ethical Government. She received a BA in Humanities and an MA in English from BYU. Her passion is women’s stories. In pursuit of this she has worked with Exponent II for 23 years as a contributor, blogger, editor, retreat presenter, and president. Heather has traveled to Botswana and South Africa to interview and collect the stories of the sister saints with the Mormon Women Oral History Project. She lives in Provo with 3 of her 4 kids, 2 cats, and one husband.

Dawn-Marie Wood

Dawn-Marie  Wood

Research Associate, Utah Women & Leadership Project | Assistant Teaching Professor, Brigham Young University

Professor Wood is a visiting Assistant Teaching Professor with a background in behavioral neuroscience. She specializes in scientific writing, research design and analysis, diversity studies, and the psychology of gender. She teaches both foundational and methodological courses for BYU's Department of Psychology and has had the opportunity of orienting hundreds of students to the psychology major as well as serving as a faculty mentor to undergraduates in the College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences throughout their experiential learning and senior capstone experiences.

In addition to speaking at forums and participating as a panelist at campus-wide events, she has been a co-investigator in ongoing research studying the effects of psychology of gender courses on religiosity, views of gender roles, and perspectives on homosexuality in the campus community. She has also coordinated research efforts in BYU’s Brain Imaging and Behavior Lab (affiliated with the MRI Research Facility), helped to synchronize the efforts of advanced writing instructors to standardize students' research and technical writing experiences within psychology, served as a faculty advisor to BYUSA clubs and student organizations, worked as a faculty reader on honors thesis committees (examining gender issues and student body-image concerns), functioned as a research and writing consultant (and member of the adjunct faculty team) at BYU's Salt Lake Center, and supervised dozens of undergraduate teaching assistants.

Currently, she is teaching (or has taught) the following courses at BYU and/or at the BYU Salt Lake Center: PSYCH 101 ("Orientation to the Psychology Major"), PSYCH 220 ("Human Development"), PSYCH 305 ("Multicultural Psychology"), PSYCH 306 ("Psychology of Gender"), PSYCH 307 ("Writing Within Psychology"), and PSYCH 310 ("Research Design and Analysis"). Professor Wood is co-chair of the Psychology Department's Diversity and Inclusion Committee and was the 2018-19 recipient of the FHSS "Martin B. Hickman Excellence in Teaching by an Adjunct Faculty" Award.

Rebecca Winkel

Rebecca Winkel

Research Associate, Utah Women & Leadership Project | Senior Economic Advisor, American Petroleum Institute

As a member of the American Petroleum Institute’s Regulatory and Economic Policy group, Rebecca works to ensure that API’s research is defensible and of the highest quality. Rebecca is the policy lead on workforce and education issues for API and is responsible for directing all research and many of the programs and partnerships related to workforce development and STEM education, with a special focus on promoting the industry’s work with strategic allies. This includes topics such as employment, educational attainment, building trades and labor unions, supplier diversity, and workforce development issues for communities of color, women, veterans, and millennials. Ms. Winkel works closely with API’s Government Relations and Communications teams on grassroots outreach and advocacy in these communities. She also works on a variety of other issues at API, including GHG emissions and carbon abatement potential, sustainability, LNG and crude exports, offshore impacts, well activity counts, and county development. She is an expert in the DrillingInfo and Rystad databases and provides GIS mapping services to all API departments.

Ms. Winkel graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in economics from Brigham Young University (BYU). She also holds a Master’s in Public Policy from BYU. Rebecca currently lives in Salt Lake City, UT with her husband and two children.

Staci Liljegren

Staci  Liljegren

Research Associate, Utah Women & Leadership Project | Operations Consultant, Packaging Corporation of America

Staci Liljegren is an Operations Consultant with the Packaging Corporation of America and the former Director of Operations for an accounting startup with an all-remote workforce. She earned her MBA and a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of Utah. She is also a certified Project Manager and thrives on bringing order to chaos. Staci enjoys building structure and processes to solve big problems and to help organizations succeed. Believing that data is a great opportunity for learning and solving these big problems, she is now pursuing a Master of Data Analytics degree with an emphasis in Management Information Systems at Utah State University.

Staci is incredibly excited to be involved with the Utah Women & Leadership Project as she feels passionate about a wide variety of women’s issues and wants to help empower women and girls in Utah and beyond.

When she has free time, Staci likes to avoid folding the laundry and instead binge watch a good (or mediocre) TV show. Her other hobbies include learning new things, reading, scuba diving, music, and spending time with her husband and two children. 

Jenna Dyckman

Jenna Dyckman

Research Associate, Utah Women & Leadership Project | Extension Assistant Professor, Registered Dietitian

Jenna is an Assistant Professor at Utah State University Extension. As a Registered Dietitian, her passion is nutrition and educating the community on how to achieve optimal health by making healthy food and lifestyle choices. Jenna is an advocate for health and encourages all to implement mindfulness to make healthy living simple, sustainable, and fun. As an Extension faculty member, she develops and implements programs to fulfill these goals. A few of her focus areas include diabetes prevention and management, nutrition education for high school athletes, SNAP-ED in Cache County, and other wellness and physical activity programs for children, youth, and adults. Jenna received an undergraduate degree in Exercise Physiology from Brigham Young University Idaho and a Master’s in Nutrition from the University of Idaho. During her time at University of Idaho as a graduate student, she served a variety of communities across the state of Idaho. Prior to working for USU, Jenna worked as a Visiting Faculty member at Brigham Young University Idaho and taught a variety of nutrition classes. She has a passion for teaching and life-long learning. Jenna loves summertime, running, golf, traveling and learning about new cultures, tennis, good music, reading and spending time with family.

Kim Buesser

Kim Buesser

Research Associate, Utah Women & Leadership Project

Kim is a Utah State University graduate student working towards her Masters in Public Health. She is currently working as a community health worker and finds this work elemental to elevating the lives of those who are underserved. She is passionate about social justice and hopes to become more involved in research that prioritizes populations that until recently have been overlooked. 

Sadie Wilde

Sadie Wilde

Research Associate, Utah Women & Leadership Project | Professional Practice Extension Assistant Professor, Health & Wellness/HEART

Sadie Wilde is a graduate student working on her Master’s in Public Health at Utah State University and a Professional Practice Extension Assistant Professor with the HEART Initiative for Davis and Weber County. She has a bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science and her previous roles include cardiac rehabilitation, supervising the Intermountain Salt Lake Live Well Center, and coordinating care for an outpatient eating disorder treatment team. Sadie has also served as a Project Coordinator for Intermountain Healthcare/Precision Genomics, Project ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes), and the Body Gratitude Project. Sadie will be focusing future research on women’s health and substance use disorder prevention specifically within Utah’s cultural context. Sadie loves backpacking, cycling, and spending time with her two children.

Elise Johnson

Elise Johnson

Research Associate, Utah Women & Leadership Project

Elise Johnson graduated from University of Rochester with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and English concentrated in Language, Media, and Communication and a minor in Business. During her undergraduate studies, she interned in both the Senate and the UK House of Commons. Following graduation, Elise went to work for Cassidy & Associates, a government relations firm in Washington, DC, as a Research Assistant. After a two-and-a-half-year stint in DC, she moved to London to complete a master’s degree at the London School of Economics and Political Science in Politics and Communications. Her dissertation focused on gender discourse within female candidates’ 2018 campaigns for the House of Representatives. In her spare time, Elise enjoys reading, swimming, and cross stitching.

Katie Hudman

Katie Hudman

Research Associate, Utah Women & Leadership Project

Katie Hudman is excited to be partnering with Utah Women & Leadership Project!  She believes that women should be recognized and valued for all their roles.  To this end, Katie is a daughter, sister, wife, mother, and attorney. 

As a daughter, Katie was raised in Utah by two parents who taught her the value of hard work, money, and education – all balanced by some fun.  She has consistently drawn on those values to guide her life and feels incredible gratitude to her parents.

As a sister, Katie was fortunate to have a patient younger brother who put up with her bossiness.  Her brother is one of her greatest defenders, having once slugged a neighborhood bully on her behalf when he was just 4.  She and her brother now live close and enjoy spending time together.  Sometimes, she still bosses him around. 

As a wife, Katie has been married to her amazing husband for 21 years.  With him being an engineer and her being an attorney, there is a lot of analyzing going on at their house.

As a mother, Katie has a wonderful son and daughter.  Her children teach her patience and to value each person’s individuality.  All have amazing things to contribute to the world.

As an attorney, Katie has focused her practice on employment law for just over two decades.  She was employed at Employers Council for seventeen years, helping employers find practical ways to efficiently run their businesses while complying with the ever-increasing number of federal and state employment laws.  Her passion is PREVENTION: preventing organizations from being sued.  To that end, she has spent much of her career training company leaders and HR professionals on various employee management principles such as effective employee discipline and documentation, as well as legal compliance obligations under employment laws covering topics such as discrimination, harassment, family and medical leave, overtime pay, drug testing, and disability accommodations.  In addition to training, she has advised employers on specific employee situations covering the entire employee life cycle from hiring to termination, prepared employment law education publications, and reviewed employee handbooks.  She also has experience helping employers with internal investigations, severance agreements, and claims filed with/investigations by government agencies.

Prior to joining Employers Council, Katie worked as an attorney at the law firm Kirton & McConkie.  While there, she taught courses on a variety of employment law topics and represented clients on a broad range of legal matters including those involving employment, risk management, and corporate law.  She was also a law clerk for the Utah Office of Legislative Research and General Counsel and Justice Christine M. Durham of the Utah Supreme Court.

Katie graduated from Weber State University with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Political Science and a double minor in Communications and Legal Studies.  She received her law degree, with honors, from the University of Utah College of Law, where she served on the College’s law review.  Katie also has PHR and SPHR certification credentials from HR Certification Institute.

Katie has been recognized as the Utah Bar’s Employment Lawyer of the Year and several times by Utah Business Magazine as one of Utah’s Legal Elite.  She served for four years in the leadership of the Utah Bar Labor & Employment Law Section and currently serves as co-chair of the Women Lawyers of Utah Continuing Education Committee.  She has also volunteered with the Boy Scouts of America, at her children’s school, and in her church organization.

Melissa Hagan

Melissa Hagan

Research Associate, Utah Women & Leadership Project | Vice President & Academic Program Director, Emerald Coast Consulting & Staffing Solutions

Melissa Hagan completed her bachelor’s degree in Communications with a minor in International Relations from Mississippi University for Women. She earned her M.Ed. at the University of Oklahoma in educational leadership focusing her work and research on adult and higher education.  She also completed a graduate certificate in college leadership and teaching from the University of Central Florida.  She currently serves as Vice President and Academic Program Director for Emerald Coast Consulting & Staffing Solutions, a major consulting firm in the aviation industry.

Her professional history includes extensive experience in education, non-profit, and political arenas and most recently she fulfilled a bucket list second career as a part-time international and domestic flight attendant. Melissa honed many of her public relations skills as the Chief Development Officer for Gulf Coast State College, helping procure over $5 million dollars in funding for the new Advanced Technology Center and student scholarships. A professional grant writer, Melissa has worked in the government and non-profit sectors in Alaska, Florida, Europe, and Asia procuring funding and securing partnerships for various agencies and community projects.

Melissa has also been extensively involved in politics, public policy, and women’s advocacy for over three decades. She has served as State Committeewoman in the Republican Party of Florida and the District Chair for two presidential campaigns and was a delegate to the 2008 Republican National Convention. She has run for state office and was appointed by the Florida Senate President as a Commissioner to the Florida Commission on the Status of Women. The skills she honed as a presenter, a candidate, and a spokeswoman have proven invaluable in empowering women and girls to seek leadership opportunities and helping a host of constituents in a variety of professional fields and endeavors.

Melissa has a long history of service to her community, and has served as president of Girls Inc. and a vice-president of the Salvation Army board of directors. She has worked with Florida’s Great Northwest Coalition to bring advanced technology into rural schools and has been a board member for Rotary International, Junior Achievement, and the Women’s Advisory Board for Gulf Coast Medical Center. She has been recognized with awards from the European Chapter of the American Red Cross and was named the Joan Orr Air Force Spouse of the Year in 1995. In 2015, Junior Achievement of Northwest Florida inducted Melissa as a Laureate into the Business Hall of Fame for her long history of service in both business and community service to Northwest Florida. 

A world-wide traveler who has lived abroad in both Europe and Asia, Melissa recently immersed herself into a Certificate of Cantonese Language immersion program at the University of Hong Kong and was well on her way to becoming conversational when the political unrest in Hong Kong required her to relocate to Park City, Utah in 2019. She has been married to her college sweetheart, Aaron, for 32 years and they have three daughters: Kirksey (28) -Airline Captain; Kiley (25) - Veterinarian (DVM); and Chloe (19) - future Human Rights Lawyer at the University of Utah.

Amber Stargell

Amber Stargell

Research Associate, Utah Women & Leadership Project | Deputy District Attorney, Salt Lake County District Attorney's Office

Amber Stargell is a Deputy District Attorney for the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office and a graduate from the University of Utah – S.J. Quinney School of Law. She is experienced in areas of Criminal Litigation (both prosecution and defense), Civil Litigation, Civil Rights and Estate Planning. Prior to law school, Amber specialized in the fields of public relations, communications, research and writing. Her vast career expertise makes her a powerful and dynamic force – inside and outside the courtroom.  

Amber is an Ohio native and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from Bowling Green State University. At 23, Amber started her career as a Public Relations Assistant at Catholic Charities Diocese of Toledo. Soon after, Amber quickly progressed in the non-profit industry. She wrote press releases, media briefs, and organized fundraising events. While at Catholic Charities, Amber developed an incredible gift of writing. Her gift tremendously increased donations and interest in Catholic Charities during her employment. By 25, Catholic Charities Diocese of Toledo named Amber Interim Director of Marketing and Communications. Longing to do more for her community in the legal field, Amber left Toledo to attend law school.

While is law school Amber was a member of B.L.S.A. (Black Law Student Association), Mock Trial at both Texas Southern University and the University of Utah, U.C.L.I. (Utah Center of Legal Inclusion), a student member of the African American Doctoral Program, recipient of the 2019 U.M.B.A. (Utah Minority Bar Association) Academic Scholarship Award, elected 1L secretary of the Student Bar Association, intern for DAPP (Diversity Attorney Pipeline Program), and an advocate for diversity and inclusion. 

Amber is currently a member of the National Bar Association, U.C.L.I., U.M.B.A., the Alta Club, Recording Secretary for the Utah Rules of Criminal Procedure Advisory Committee, Women’s Bar Association, mock trial coach for local junior high school and high school students. She is also the first ever Recording Secretary for the developing Utah African American Bar Association. She currently holds a license within the Utah State Bar, the Federal Bar and is certified to practice before the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. When she’s not in a courtroom or in meetings, she loves to brunch with her friends, hike, and talk on the phone with her family – especially her grandparents. Amber currently resides in Salt Lake City, Utah and is a rising leader, locally and nationally.

Rachel Denton

Rachel  Denton

Research Associate, Utah Women & Leadership Project | Licensed Clinical Social Worker

Rachel Denton has a graduate degree from the University of Utah with a Master’s degree in Social Work. She is currently a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with a private therapy practice working primarily with women. She is passionate about women’s issues and social justice and is excited to become more involved in research that prioritizes overlooked populations. Rachel has experience in research, therapy and community outreach. She enjoys rock climbing, reading a new book and traveling around the world.

Claudia Méndez Wright

Claudia Méndez Wright

Research Associate, Utah Women & Leadership Project | Adjunct Instructor, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Utah State University

Claudia Méndez Wright is a PhD Candidate and Presidential Doctoral Research Fellow at the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Utah State University. Originally from Bogota-Colombia, Claudia got her undergraduate degree in Anthropology from Universidad de los Andes and her M.Sc. in Communication at the University of Louisiana.

As an anthropologist, Claudia worked in advertising and market research agencies successfully leading initiatives to gather consumer insights. Her research has informed numerous campaigns for diverse clients and consumer sectors including recognized brands, services, governmental, and non-profit. Working in the private industry and her background as an immigrant further informed her interests in migration, gender, class, race, and consumer culture.

Now, as a graduate student, her current research explores transnational motherhood using a multi-sited and multigenerational approach. She is interested in understanding how intersectional identities shape migration histories. Other notable projects that Claudia has participated in include the “Princess Archetype” project (Dr. Sterling Bone) and community attachment amongst immigrants (Dr. Erin Hoffman). Claudia’s teaching experience includes training marketing professionals and students in qualitative methods, serving as an adjunct professor at USU for the Huntsman School of Business and the department of Sociology and Anthropology. She has also served as adjunct faculty at Ivy Tech Community College in Indiana since 2012. Claudia is actively involved with her community as a board member for a local organization against domestic violence and as an advocate for the Hispanic community in Cache Valley.

Madison Harmer

Madison Harmer

Research Associate, Utah Women & Leadership Project

Madison Harmer is a medical student at the University of Utah. She graduated from Brigham Young University with a BA in Anthropology and is passionate about applying ethnographic principles to medical care. Madison did fieldwork in France and Thailand studying Hmong shamanism and medical pluralism. She is currently doing research with the U’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology on women’s experiences with gynecologic exams in Utah. She is interested in women’s issues and mental health, and hopes to work with underserved populations in Utah as a physician. Madison enjoys outdoor recreation, travel, and plant-based cooking.

Erin Jemison

Erin Jemison

Policy & Research Associate, Utah Women & Leadership Project | Independent Consultant

Erin Jemison is an independent consultant focused on supporting nonprofit, government, and community organizations through policy analysis and development, legislative education and advocacy, program design and implementation, and special project facilitation. Erin brings over 20 years of experience as a collaborative leader, practitioner, and policy analyst in domestic and sexual violence issues, criminal and juvenile justice reform, and economic opportunity for women and families. This includes overseeing legislative analysis and strategy in multiple states as a Policy Manager at the Crime and Justice Institute, as well as developing and leading the first statewide policy program focused on Utah women and families as Director of Public Policy at YWCA Utah. Erin also served as Executive Director of the Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault, where she managed all operations and government relations and directed statewide technical assistance and public policy focused on supporting survivors, reducing sexual offense recidivism, and promoting public safety. Erin is dedicated to bringing people to the table to find effective, inclusive, and sustainable approaches to complex issues. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from William Smith College and a Master of Public Administration from Montana State University.

McKayla Caress

McKayla Caress

Graduate Research Assistant, Utah Women & Leadership Project | Legislative Director, Girls Lobby

McKayla Caress is the Legislative Director for Girls Lobby, a nonprofit that teaches high school girls specific lobbying curriculum such as tracking bills, testifying at hearings, writing editorials, planning protests, etc. while partnering with local NGOs. McKayla received her Bachelors in Political Science from BYU - Hawaii and is currently pursuing her Masters in Public Administration at BYU emphasizing in Federal & State Government and Nonprofit Management. Through her graduate program, she also works with Grantwell, a student-run, faculty-advised consulting program where she has worked with Younique in increasing their volunteer engagement. McKayla grew up in the LA area of California and her family now resides in Las Vegas, Nevada. She loves politics and policy and is passionate about empowering women to become more politically active. 

Carlee Dynes

Carlee Dynes

Graduate Research Assistant, Utah Women & Leadership Project

At the same time her youngest started Kindergarten, Carlee began a master's program in Sociology at Brigham Young University. In graduate school, her research focuses on the experiences of women, and is interested in the intersection of motherhood and work. Carlee is interested in family policies broadly and childcare and paid parental leave specifically. Prior to graduate school Carlee spent many years at home with her children, and believes women and families would be well served by increased institutional support. She is currently a graduate research assistant for the Utah Woman and Leadership Project at Utah State University and lives in Provo with her husband and 5 children. 

Tatiana Leroy

Tatiana Leroy

Research Assistant, Utah Women & Leadership Project

Tatiana Leroy earned her undergrad diploma in Translation and Interpretation from Pskov Volny University (Russia) and bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and Human Resources from Southern New Hampshire University. She currently assists with multiple research projects at Utah Valley University and is getting ready to pursue a PhD in Clinical/Counseling Psychology. Tatiana loves learning and mastering new experiences. In previous positions, Tatiana has worked as a paralegal, certified snowboard instructor, realtor, nail technician educator, salon manager, and business owner. Her favorite quote is “Don’t underestimate the power of a woman with a dream.”

Resource Development Team

Chrissey Hayes

Chrissey Hayes

Curriculum Developer, Utah Women & Leadership Project | Director, Learning and Development, Avetta

Chrissey is Utah native that is made up of 1 part artist, 2 parts adventurer and 3 parts geek – too many parts? As with most professionals in the field of training, she began her career when a boss decided to put her loquacious nature to good use. After successfully surviving a class of 30 new hires and a few shoddily built PowerPoint slides as reference, she was made a full time trainer and the rest, is history. Chrissey graduated from the University of Utah in Adult Education and has been a leader in corporate training and knowledge management for 15+ years with companies such as eBay and American Express before joining Avetta. She also served as VP of Communications for the ATD (Association for Talent Development) Utah Chapter and is an active board member for several local and national companies.

Within her current role as Director of Learning and Development at Avetta Chrissey is passionate about building a culture of learning for teammates that directly translates to their ability to delight their customers, in everything they do.

In her free time, Chrissey serves as a volunteer and VP of finance for a nonprofit organization called Kids Heroes Foundation that seeks to provide financial assistance to children in need, thwart bullying, and assist other children’s organizations in their causes. Chrissey currently lives in South Jordan, Utah with her two children. As a family they enjoy cosplay, camping and all things outdoors.

Christina Pay

Christina Pay

Curriculum Developer, Utah Women & Leadership Project | Assistant Professor, Family & Consumer Sciences, Utah State University Extension

Christina Pay is an Assistant Professor in Family and Consumer Sciences at Utah State University Extension in Carbon County.  She received both her Master’s Degree in Health Education and her Bachelor’s Degree in Educational Studies from Western Governors University. Christina believes the key to improving communities is through strengthening family relationships, empowering youth through positive youth development and promoting healthy lifestyles.  As such, she uses research based, innovative programming in these areas to better serve her community.  Christina has a lifelong love of learning and for working with youth. She previously worked in the early childhood education field and currently serves on the board of the Utah Association for the Education of Young Children. She is happily married to Steve and they have six children and 11 grandchildren. She enjoys reading, traveling, writing, enjoying nature, and spending time with her family. 

Andrea Schmutz

Andrea Schmutz

Curriculum Developer, Utah Women & Leadership Project | Assistant Professor, Family & Consumer Sciences, Utah State University Extension

Andrea Schmutz is a Family and Consumer Science/4-H Youth Development Assistant Professor for Utah State University Extension. Andrea utilizes innovative programming in her work with youth and families in Washington County to teach sustainability, youth development, and healthy living skills. She believes in empowering and training youth to thrive in tomorrow’s economy through STEM education. Andrea holds a Master’s degree in Recreation Management and Youth Leadership from Brigham Young University.

Eva Timothy

Eva Timothy

Curriculum Developer, Utah Women & Leadership Project | Assistant Professor, Family & Consumer Sciences, Utah State University Extension

Eva Timothy hails from Northeast Tennessee where she obtained a Master’s in Social Work from East Tennessee State University. She is knowledgeable in the areas of behavior modification, improving parent-child relationships through parenting skills, working with youth and families experiencing homelessness, and teaching youth. She is currently employed with USU Extension in Millard County where she works to meet her community’s needs through effective programming in the areas of positive youth development, parent-child relationship education, food preservation, and more. In her free time, she enjoys being with her husband and twins. She is passionate about healthy living and spending time in the great outdoors. Nature is where she finds her center.  

Melanie Dabb

Melanie Dabb

Curriculum Developer, Utah Women & Leadership Project | Assistant Professor, Family & Consumer Sciences, Utah State University Extension

Melanie is the USU Extension Assistant Professor for Home and Community in Wayne County. Prior to taking this position, Melanie was an Extension 4-H faculty member for the University of Georgia in Troup County, GA. She has a passion for helping families break the intergenerational poverty cycle and worked with many at risk youth in Georgia.  Melanie received her bachelor’s degree in Health Education from Utah State University and her master’s degree in Financial Planning from the University of Georgia. In her personal life Melanie enjoys traveling, exploring outdoors, being crafty, cooking and planning get togethers.

Dr. Lisa Schainker

Lisa Schainker

Curriculum Developer, Utah Women & Leadership Project | Assistant Professor, Family & Consumer Sciences, Utah State University Extension

Dr. Lisa Schainker is an Assistant Professor in Family and Consumer Sciences at Utah State University Extension based in Salt Lake County. Dr. Schainker earned her Ph.D. in lifespan developmental psychology and a master’s degree in public health at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Her major interest areas center around enhancing physical and emotional well-being in adults and promoting positive adolescent development through family skill-building and parent education. In addition, she has led several federal grants focused on the prevention of adolescent substance misuse and other problem behaviors. She is a contributor to Extension's relationship website and conducts personal and professional development workshops that focus on helping people become the best version of themselves.

Catherine Hansen

Catherine Hansen

Curriculum Developer, Utah Women & Leadership Project | Assistant Professor, Family & Consumer Sciences, Utah State University Extension

Catherine Hansen received her Bachelors and Masters degrees from Brigham Young University. While finishing her Master’s degree Catherine worked for UVCC (now UVU) where she created and helped teach community education and enrichment classes. While Catherine and her husband lived in Moab, she helped students prepare for the GED exam and taught Math and English for College of Eastern Utah (now USU Eastern). Catherine believes strongly in helping all youth understand their potential. She enjoys watersports, sewing, and spending time with her family. 

Emma Whitmore

Emma Whitmore

Curriculum Developer, Utah Women & Leadership Project | 4-H Youth Program Coordinator, Utah State University Extension

Emma Whitmore is a 4-H Youth Program Coordinator at Utah State University Extension in Iron County. She received her bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Human Development and Family Studies at the University of Connecticut. Emma has a passion for youth leadership and self-empowerment. She has experience working with underserved populations, teaching youth, planning events, and creating curriculum. In her free time she enjoys painting, reading, being outdoors and spending time with her family and friends.

Mallory Santa Cruz

Mallory Santa Cruz

Resource Developer, Utah Women & Leadership Project | Director of Programs, Success in Education Foundation

Mallory Santa Cruz is the Director of Programs for the Success in Education Foundation, founded by Robert and Katharine Garff. She is passionate about providing pathways for women and students in Utah towards higher education and career growth. Currently, she manages statewide programming focused on literacy, technology, mentoring programs, and exposure to scholarships, internships, and careers. Most recently, she developed the mentoring curriculum for the Women Who Succeed initiative. 

Prior to this role, Mallory served as a Regional Program Manager with the American Red Cross- working in disaster management and external relations. Mallory earned her MBA degree from Western Governors University, and her undergraduate degree from Brigham Young University- Idaho. This year, she is participating in the Women in Leadership executive education program at the University of Utah. In her free time, Mallory enjoys outdoor recreational activities with her husband and listening to true crime podcasts. 

Melisa Valentin

Melisa Valentin

Instructional Designer, Utah Women & Leadership Project | Instructional Designer, Ensign College & Educational Consultant

Melisa Valentin enjoys being in different aspects of the education world. Currently, she is dedicated to educational consulting, research, and instructional design in higher education. As a researcher, she seeks to understand how diverse groups learn to design curriculum and instruction leading to student achievement, lifelong learning, and transformative phenomenological experiences.  

Melisa has loved dedicating 20 years of her life to learners from all parts of the world, specifically international students and historically marginalized ethnic and racial groups.  She combines her background in political sciences and international relations, curriculum, and instructional knowledge and experiences with her cultural competence to give voice to the human experience. She intends to continue to deepen her connection with diverse cultures, diverse learners, and multicultural education through research, instructional design, curriculum evaluation, and program evaluation. She aims to empower those around her and actively participates in policy change. Her main research interests revolve around culturally responsive teaching, students’ racial identity development, international students, virtual schools, multicultural education, the impact of curriculum and instruction implementation, and international education.

Melisa has a BA in Political Sciences with a minor in pre-med from the University of Puerto Rico and an MA from Brigham Young University in International and Area Studies. She holds an MS in Curriculum and Instruction from Western Governor’s University. She is a doctoral candidate at the University of Louisiana Monroe. At the moment, she is working on her dissertation, which is a qualitative study with a phenomenological research design focusing on  ELA curriculum evaluation for cultural responsiveness and Latinx students’ response.

Sheila Sconiers

Sheila Sconiers

Instructional Designer, Utah Women & Leadership Project | Education Coordinator, University of Utah Office of Equal Opportunity, Affirmative Action, & Title IX


Sheila Sconiers specializes in developing human resource training. She has worked with local government, education, community groups, and corporations. Sheila has worked in career services and human resources for over 15 years. She currently works as the education coordinator at the University of Utah Office of Equal Opportunity, Affirmative Action, and Title IX.

Sheila has a B.S. in Home and Family Life, and a M.Ed. in Instructional Technology. She is a member of the Association for Talent Development and SHRM. Sheila’s goal is to provide interactive training that is fun and insightful, allowing participants to make meaningful connections that lead to change.

Polly Conrad

Polly Conrad

Digital Analytics Advisor, Utah Women & Leadership Project | Senior Lecturer & Director of Teaching Excellence in the Data Analytics & Information Systems Department, USU

Polly Conrad is a Senior Lecturer in the Data Analytics and Information Systems Department in the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business at Utah State University. She also serves as the Director of Teaching Excellence for the DAIS Department, a Program Mentor for the Huntsman Scholars Program, and Senator for the USU faculty senate.

She earned her Master of Science degree from Truman State University, where she studied biology and ecology. She proceeded to work for university, government agency, industry, and non-profit organizations since 2003. Polly is part biologist, part statistics nerd, and part business analyst. She has utilized various data analytics strategies and communication skills to inform management decisions and effectively manage programs. Polly is an advocate for women in the STEM fields, and she loves teaching and mentoring students.

Passionate about the outdoors, the move to Logan was a natural fit. She and her spouse, Ben, are the proud parents of two children. In her free time, Polly loves to spend time with her family and friends, and she is an avid wildlife conservationist.

Lianne Wappett

Lianne Wappett

Digital Analytics Advisor, Utah Women & Leadership Project | Academic Director, Huntsman Scholar Program & Lecturer, Data Analytics & Information Systems Department, USU

Lianne is the Academic Director for the Huntsman Scholars Program and a Lecturer in the Data Analytics and Information Systems Department at Utah State University. She serves as co-advisor to the Women in Business Association and a Program Mentor.

With over twenty years of industry experience creating tech brands and digital solutions, Lianne’s interests are in emerging technologies and how well-crafted visual design enhances user experiences and retention. Lianne earned her Master in Fine Art at the University of Idaho, where her work was recognized at the International Sculpture Center and exhibited at MANA Contemporary Chicago. While still a practicing artist, she now coaches future leaders at USU’s Huntsman School of Business to create compelling presentations, craft credible writing, and use data to tell stories.  She believes in the school’s motto to dare mighty things and enjoys unlocking the potential in others.

Abby Jensen

Abby Jensen

Digital Analytics Student, Utah Women & Leadership Project

Abby is a Digital Analytics Student for the UWLP. She makes interactive dashboards visualizing data the UWLP researchers have collected. She enjoys diving deep into the data and finding ways to visualize it for users to easily understand and use to make decisions. Abby is working toward her undergraduate degree in Data Analytics at Utah State University. She loves being outdoors and spending time with her family. Abby currently runs on Utah State's cross country and track teams. She is a proud Aggie and is honored to be helping the UWLP.

Laura Middleton

Laura Middleton

Graphic Designer, Utah Women & Leadership Project | Co-Founder & CEO, HRCP, L.C

Laura Middleton is the co-founder and CEO of HRCP, L.C., a leading provider of content for human resource certification preparation, recertification, and micro credentials. Laura holds two degrees from Brigham Young University: a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s in organizational behavior. Laura is a certified human resource professional (SPHR and SPHRi) and has worked as a business consultant and researcher. She is also an adjunct faculty member at her alma mater, teaching leadership and human resource classes. Laura volunteers in her community, church, and local government. She and her husband, Mike, are the parents of three children. A former collegiate athlete and high school track coach, Laura enjoys hiking and is an expert pumpkin carver. 

Eva Nautiyal

Eva Nautiyal

Graphic Designer, Utah Women & Leadership Project | CEHS Web Developer, USU

Eva is a web developer in the EEJ College of Education and Human Services at Utah State University. She graduated in May 2020 with a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from a small liberal arts school in Bloomington, Illinois. While in school, Eva also studied Creative  Writing and is passionate about poetry, performing at USU's PoBev event series. She loves using art for social change--especially using the power of performance poetry.

Born and raised in India by a single mother, she has been passionate about women empowerment since childhood. In the past, she interned for an international human rights NGO in Thailand, teaching English to adult activists who want to reach a broader audience around the world through the English learning program. In her free time, she likes running outdoors, reading non-fiction, and giving back to community through volunteering.