Team & Contact Information
Utah Women & Leadership Project
Jon M. Huntsman School of Business
Utah State University
3550 Old Main Hill
Logan, UT 84322-3550
Dr. Susan Madsen
Dr. Susan R. Madsen is the Inaugural 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 six 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 sought-after 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 Silicon Slopes, Envision Utah, the Utah Governor’s One Utah Roadmap, Real Women Run, United Way of Utah County, South Davis County Communities that Care, Utah Financial Empowerment Coalition, KUER Radio, and more. 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: LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
Marin Christensen is the Associate Director for the Utah Women & Leadership Project where she focuses on research, strategy, and events that impact and empower women. Marin came to us from the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute at the University of Utah where she conducted survey and qualitative research for various community partners, including women-focused projects. She is also the co-founder of UC3 – Utah Child Care Cooperative, which helps increase access to quality, affordable child care so women have the choice to stay and thrive in their careers. Marin is pursuing a Ph.D. in Human Development and Social Policy at the University of Utah, where she is studying barriers facing working women.
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 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.
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.
Anneka is a Business Administration Masters Student at Utah State University and a graduate research assistant for the Utah Women & Leadership Project. She received a Bachelor of Science in Law and Constitutional Studies and a Bachelor of Science in Economics from Utah State University. Anneka has experience in research, data analysis, mentorship, and community outreach initiatives. She is passionate about empowering women and girls and providing resources that enable them to pursue their goals.
Lindsey is a Master of Business Administration Candidate at Utah State University. She earned her undergraduate from Brigham Young University-Idaho. She has a background in public relations, political campaigns, and state government. Most recently she worked for the Maryland Department of Agriculture in the Executive Office where she gained an even deeper love for the agricultural industry and respect for women in leadership rolls. She is a passionate advocate for empowering women: During her time as a political operative, she served as the Utah volunteer coordinator for a presidential campaign. Among her team of volunteers were women who inspired Lindsey because they had found courage to speak out about their experience and share their political beliefs. It was one of the most incredible things she has witnessed to this day.
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
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
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. Sara McPhee Lafkas
Sara McPhee Lafkas is an Assistant Professor of Social Work in the Department of Behavioral Science at Utah Valley University. She is also an independently licensed clinical social worker (LCSW). She earned a doctoral degree in human development and psychology from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She previously obtained a master's degree in social work from the University of Washington and an undergraduate degree in psychology from UCLA. In addition, she completed a graduate certificate program in the treatment of traumatic stress at the Trauma Center in Brookline, MA. Her clinical experience includes working as a psychotherapist in private practice, LDS Family Services, and at college counseling and community mental health service centers. In her clinical practice, she has worked mainly with adult and adolescent clients who have varied concerns, including anxiety, depression, trauma, family relationships, self-esteem, spirituality, and professional transitions.
Dr. McPhee Lafkas' dissertation focused on Latter-Saint Women who experienced the divorce of their parents in childhood. She has presented on her dissertation research at numerous conferences and has also presented on other topics related to mental health, including self-compassion practice, depression, and abuse.
Originally from California, Dr. Lafkas started her career by working as an elementary school teacher and later as a child welfare specialist. She has taught multiple undergraduate and graduate level courses in the fields of social work and counseling. In her personal life, she is married and the mother of two active girls, ages 10 and 3. She enjoys traveling, having dinners out, theater, museums, movies, and continuing to learn.
Dr. Chris Hartwell
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
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 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
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 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
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 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
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
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
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. Lindsay Gezinski
Dr. Lindsay Gezinski is a social science researcher and educator. She studies gender-based violence, sexual and reproductive health, and intimate labor. Primarily, she investigates the intersectional vulnerabilities, consequences, and institutional responses associated with gender-based violence. Her work has appeared in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence, Child Abuse and Neglect, Journal of Family Violence, Health and Social Work, and Violence Against Women, among others.
Dr. Gezinski completed her PhD in Social Work and Graduate Minor in Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies at The Ohio State University in 2011. Formerly, she was a tenured Associate Professor in Social Work at the University of Utah and a Visiting Scholar at the University of Amsterdam Research Centre for Gender & Sexuality. She lives in The Netherlands.
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 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 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 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 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 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.
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.
Samantha Austin is a cultural anthropologist and qualitative researcher. She currently conducts strategic portfolio research for the Teacher’s College at Western Governors University. Sam has an MBA from the University of Utah, an MA in Medical Anthropology from the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, England, and a BA in Anthropology from the University of California, Santa Cruz. Prior to being part of WGU, Sam was staff anthropologist for OC Tanner, where she led cultural assessments for multinational organizations and conducted global research on organizational culture in 15 countries with over 18,000 survey participants. A native Californian, Sam has also lived in Costa Rica, England, China, and New York.
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 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 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 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 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.
Emily Bell McCormick is founder of The Policy Project— a group of individuals and like-minded organizations that help move forward healthy, long-term policy at a local and national level. Emily is also the editor of Utah’s NBC affiliate KSL Studio 5 "Smarter" series--informing viewers about issues, government, policies and politics of the time and helping to empower viewers to find their place in it all.
Emily is an experienced communication strategist with a history of working in a myriad of industries including media, policy, NGOs, tech and fashion. She received a Bachelor of Art in Communication from Brigham Young University and a Master of Art in Communication from The Ohio State University, where she taught courses.
Emily worked in advertising, marketing and public relations before acting on her love of fashion and co-founding the clothing line Shabby Apple and becoming the fashion editor for KSL’s Studio 5.
After selling Shabby, Emily started a consulting firm that provides corporate planning and strategy related to content, brand, marketing, event and image to companies from large, publicly-traded corporations to start-ups.
Several years later, Emily moved into the public realm, helping to bring menstrual policy to the state of Utah. She and The Policy Project worked to successfully eliminate the sales tax on menstrual products in the state. They continue to focus on policy specific to women, families and minorities, in an effort to move toward an equitable society.
Allie Barnes is a writer and researcher who is passionate about empowering and developing individuals and organizations. She is currently pursuing a graduate degree in Business and Leadership under Southern Utah University's Master of Interdisciplinary Studies program. She graduated with her bachelors degree in Family Studies from Brigham Young University.
After living in Utah for over a decade, Allie recently relocated to Portland, Oregon. Outside of work, Allie enjoys spending time with family and friends. She finds joy in learning new things, facing new challenges, and working on creative projects.
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.
Resource Development Team
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 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 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 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 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
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.
Anneliese Pixton is a founder, co-founder, and consultant, with a special interest in the intersection of compelling user experiences and improved learning outcomes for underserved populations.
Anneliese earned an MBA and MS and holds a K-8 general education and K-12 special education teaching license. She has a broad background in educational leadership, distance education, instructional design, Federal Title Programs, product management, customer experience, and sales support.
When she isn’t knee-deep in startup life, Anneliese mentors women looking to make the leap to tech and is a firm believer that amplifying female voices at the leadership table benefits everyone. The company she co-founded was acquired in 2019, she was a semifinalist in Rev Road’s 2020 Pitch Competition and she supported the Get Hired Summit.
A proud “military brat” raised around the globe, Anneliese shares her love of unfamiliar places, beaches, musical theatre, and golden retrievers with her husband and 5 children.
Christian is a recent graduate from the Communication Studies M.S. program at Utah State University. His social and research interests include discovering, articulating, and promoting healthy masculinity, especially in the realms of leadership and gender equity. Christian and his wife met in a conflict course at Utah State University. They both care deeply about helping people embrace the liberating possibilities of collaborative conflict and are thrilled to contribute content for the Utah Women & Leadership Project!
Bobbi recently graduated from USU with her master's in Communication Studies. She is a self-proclaimed "pedagogy nerd" and loves facilitating transformative learning experiences-- especially those that help others cultivate self-awareness and build stronger relationships. She particularly loves teaching about conflict resolution and listening. Bobbi loves to create new dishes to eat, try new foods at restaurants, and enjoys backpacking.
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 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.
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.
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.