Current Honorees

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Algie Eggertsen Ballif,
Women in the Arts » Dance

Educational leader and politician. Born in Provo, Ballif received a bachelor’s degree from BYU and married George S. Ballif, a local attorney who served as Provo City Attorney and later District Attorney. Ballif served for twenty-three years on the Provo Board of Education and helped to develop the dance program at BYU. She also served as Chair of the Utah Democratic Party and as a member of the Utah State House of Representatives. One highlight in her life was being asked by Eleanor Roosevelt to serve as a member of the Education Subcommittee for the United States Commission on the Status of Women.
Image used by permission, Utah State Historical Society, all rights reserved.
Shirley Ririe,
Women in the Arts » Dance

Notable dance teacher, choreographer, and co-founder (along with Joan Woodbury) of the Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company. Over the course of her career, Ririe has choreographed over 100 works for various dance and professional theater companies. She also consulted for the National Endowment for the Arts and is a retired professor of modern dance at the University of Utah, where she taught for thirty-nine years. (Ririe was also a Fulbright professor in Hong Kong and Aukland, New Zealand.) Among Ririe’s numerous honors are the Plaudit Award by the National Dance Association and the Utah Governor’s Award for Arts Education.
Jacqueline P. Colledge,
Women in the Arts » Dance

Founding director of Utah Regional Ballet. Colledge became a member of Ballet West while attending the University of Utah. During that time, she danced various solo roles and worked with numerous renowned choreographers and instructors, such as Lew Christensen, Jacques d’ Amboise, Michael Smuin, Dimitri Romanoff, and Francia Russell. In 1981, Colledge organized Utah Youth Ballet (later renamed Utah Regional Ballet), which has been a professional performing company in residency at Utah Valley University in Orem, Utah, since 1995. Colledge is currently on faculty at Utah Valley University as the coordinator for the ballet program.
Virginia Tanner,
Women in the Arts » Dance

The most celebrated teacher of children’s dance of her time, Tanner studied dance with Doris Humphrey in New York City before returning to Salt Lake City in 1949 to organize the Children’s Dance Theater (CDT). Under her direction, the CDT presented numerous exhibitions, including five concerts in 1962 at the Seattle World’s Fair. Tanner also helped form the Repertory Dance Theater (RDT) at the University of Utah, and her efforts resulted in several Rockefeller Foundation grants to the university’s dance department, the first ever awarded to a college dance program.
©Image courtesy of Special Collections Department, J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah.
No reproductions of image in any medium.
Juanita Brooks,
Women of Letters » History

Historian and author best known for her account of the Mountain Meadows Massacre. After obtaining her master’s degree from Columbia University, Brooks became an instructor of English and dean of women at Dixie Junior College. She also served on the Board of the Utah Historical Society for many years. In 1933, Brooks retired from teaching to raise her large family and to edit various pioneer documents and diaries. She authored numerous historical articles, family narratives, and biographies in addition to her groundbreaking work on the Mountain Meadows Massacre, which was the first comprehensive account of the incident that utilized modern historical methods.
©Image used by permission, Utah State Historical Society, all rights reserved.
Susan Easton Black Durrant,
Women of Letters » History

Notable author and professor of Church History and Doctrine at Brigham Young University. Black has authored, edited, and compiled over 125 books and articles, including several books related to Joseph Smith, Jr., and the early history of the LDS Church. Black was the first female BYU professor of Church History and Religion and is the founding trustee of Nauvoo University. She received the Karl G. Maesar Distinguished Faculty Lecturer Award in 2000, the highest recognition given to a professor at BYU.
Maud May Babcock,
Women in the Arts » Entertainment/Theatre

Utah’s first lady of theater and physical education, Babcock founded the Department of Speech and the Department of Physical Education at the University of Utah, and she was also the first woman given full professorship at that university. During the course of her lifetime, Babcock produced and directed over 300 plays, including Eleusinia, the first play produced by a university in the United States, and she was the driving force behind the Social Hall, the first university-subsidized professional theater in the United States. In addition to her work with drama and speech, Babcock served as president of the board for the Utah School for the Deaf and Blind as well as Chaplain of the Utah Senate, the first woman in the country to hold such a position.
Ariel Bybee,
Women in the Arts » Entertainment/Theatre

Distinguished soloist, voice teacher, and opera director. Bybee joined the Metropolitan Opera in 1977 as a mezzo-soprano and sang in every subsequent performance until 1995 –- over 450 performances. Additionally, Bybee performed for numerous Live from Lincoln Center telecasts and sang the role of Flora in Franco Zeffirelli’s motion picture version of La Traviata (1983). In addition to her career as a soloist, Bybee has taught voice at the Lee Strasberg Institute, the American Musical and Dramatic Academy, the University of Nebraska, and the University of Utah. Bybee also directed a production of Frank Loesser’s The Most Happy Fella, which won the International Trophy (Grand Prize) in competition at the Waterford (Ireland) International Festival of Light Opera.
Janice Kapp Perry,
Women in the Arts » Music

Prolific songwriter and composer of more than 800 songs, sixty-three recorded albums and songbooks, two full-length musicals, eight sacred cantatas, and several albums in Spanish, Japanese, and Korean. Her music has been performed by such artists as Gladys Knight, Brooks & Dunn, and The Osmonds Second Generation. Perry has co-written six albums with Senator Orrin G. Hatch, and their songs have been performed at the National Prayer Breakfast (2001) in Washington, D.C., and at the Presidential Inauguration (2005). Perry has received numerous honors, including the Ricks College Exemplary Woman Award (1994) and the BYU Alumni Distinguished Service Award (1997).
Sharlene Wells Hawkes,
Women in Public Service » Entertainment/Theatre

The only foreign-born, bilingual Miss America (1985). Born in Asunción, Paraguay, Sharlene Wells Hawkes spent twelve years in South America (including high school) before returning to Utah to attend BYU, where she graduated magna cum laude and won top awards for broadcasting. She was crowned BYU Homecoming Queen, Miss Utah, and eventually Miss America, for which she played the Paraguayan harp and sang in Spanish for her talent presentation in front of a record television audience of over 100 million. Later, Hawkes became one of the first women to work on-air for ESPN, where she earned national recognition including an Emmy nomination. Currently, Hawkes is the spokesperson and adviser for ASCEND, a non-profit organization that provides life skills mentoring to African and South American countries.
Cecelia Foxley,
Women in Education/Business » Education

As the first woman to serve as Associate Commissioner for Academic Affairs, Deputy Commissioner, and finally Commissioner of the Utah System of Higher Education and CEO to the State Board of Regents, Dr. Foxley served a total of over 18 years in the Commissioner's Office. During her career in education, she also taught at the high school level and has held administrative and faculty positions at the University of Minnesota, the University of Iowa (where she was the first Director of Affirmative Action in the country), Utah State University, and the University of Utah. In addition to her teaching and administrative accolades, Dr. Foxley is the author of several books dealing with topics such as human relations, multicultural education, and nonsexist counseling. She serves on several philanthropic boards and committees, and is a higher education consultant.
Carolyn Tanner Irish,
Women in Religious Roles » Religion

Bishop of Utah’s Episcopal Church, the first woman to lead a church in Utah, and only the fourth woman in the Episcopal Church to hold the office of bishop. Although raised in the LDS faith, Bishop Tanner later converted to the Episcopal Church and entered the ministry in 1984. She served congregations in Washington, D.C., Virginia, and Michigan before her election and consecration in 1996 as the tenth bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Utah. Throughout her ministry, Bishop Tanner has been an outspoken advocate of minorities and has opposed movements to make English the sole language of governmental laws and information.
Ardeth Kapp,
Women in Religious Roles » Religion

Author, lecturer, and general president of the LDS Church’s Young Women organization from 1984 to 1992. Following her tenure as LDS general president of the Young Women organization, Kapp served with her husband, Heber B. Kapp, as he presided over the Canada Vancouver Mission from 1992 to 1995. The Kapps were later called as president and matron of the Cardston Alberta Temple. In addition to her church service, Kapp has worked as a board member of the LDS Church Educational System, Deseret Book Company, the Deseret News Publishing Company, and the board of trustees for Southern Virginia University. She is also the author of twenty books and a series of television programs created by the Utah Education Network.
Chieko Okasaki,
Women in Religious Roles » Religion

Educator, author, and counselor in the LDS general Relief Society presidency from 1990-1997. Born in Hawaii, Chieko Okazaki was raised as a Buddhist before converting to Mormonism as a teenager. In addition to her service in the LDS Relief Society, Okazaki worked on the YWMIA board and also served with her husband, Edward Y. Okazaki, as he presided over the Japan Okinawa Mission. Okazaki was a frequent and popular speaker and has authored several bestselling books and audio talks.
Belle Smith Spafford,
Women in Religious Roles » Religion

LDS Relief Society general president for nearly thirty years (1945-1974), Spafford is credited for bringing Mormon women out of obscurity. She participated in women’s organizations throughout the world and was nominated for president of the National Council of Women in 1968. Spafford oversaw the construction of the Relief Society building in Salt Lake City, having raised half a million dollars for its construction by asking each of the hundred thousand Relief Society members worldwide to donate five dollars each. Spafford also founded the LDS Church’s social services program (now called LDS Family Services).
Tiffany Lott Hogan,
Common Roles/Uncommon Lives » Athletics/Sports

Olympic athlete representing the United States at the 2004 Summer Olympics held in Athens, Greece, where she finished 20th in the heptathlon. Prior to the Olympics, Hogan was a ten-time All-American and won the NCAA championship in the heptathlon in 1997 and 1998. She also won the gold medal in that event at the 2003 Pan American Games. Hogan has been honored with numerous awards, including Female Athlete of the Year by Track & Field Magazine, the Dale Rex Memorial Award at BYU, Female Athlete of the Year (Utah) by the Girl and Women in Sports Foundation, and Collegiate Female Athlete of the Year (Utah) by the Multiple Sclerosis Society.
Martha Hughes Cannon,
Women in Science » Science/Medicine

Pioneer, doctor, prominent suffragist, author of Utah’s sanitation laws, initiator and first member of the State Board of Health, founder of first nursing school in Utah Territory, and the first woman in the United States elected as a state senator. Raised in Salt Lake City, Cannon attended medical school at the University of Michigan before returning to Utah to serve as resident physician for the newly founded Deseret Hospital. Later, Cannon became involved in the national women’s suffrage movement and traveled to Washington, D.C., to speak to a congressional committee in favor of granting women the right to vote. In 1896, Cannon became the first woman in the United States elected as state senator, and she served two terms during which she spearheaded funding for speech- and hearing-impaired students, the establishment of a state board of health, and a law regulating the working conditions of women and girls.
Image courtesy of Church History Collections, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Intellectual Reserves, Inc.
Sandra N. Tillotson,
Women in Education/Business » Business

Founder of Nu Skin International, where she has served as Vice President, Senior Vice President, and a director since the company went public in 1996. A driving force behind Nu Skin, Tillotson assisted in the development of the original product line and establishment of the global marketing plan. In recognition of her efforts, she was named one of the top ten female business owners in the United States by Working Woman magazine and one of the fifty “Women of the New Millennium” by Feminine Fortunes magazine. In addition to her work with Nu Skin, Tillotson is a trustee of the Force for Good Foundation and Vice President of Seacology, an international environmental nonprofit organization.
Image courtesy of Sandra Tillotson.
Hannah Blakesley Finch Morley,
Common Roles/Uncommon Lives »

Courageous pioneer woman who buried her first husband and four sons and who crossed the plains to Utah in 1848. She was also one of the few pioneer women to keep a journal. Morley eventually settled with the first group of pioneers in Manti, Utah. There, along with her second husband, Isaac Morley, she battled rattlesnakes, severe weather, and the Sanpitch Indians. Her last son, Simeon, was taken hostage as a baby by Ute Chief Walker in exchange for promised goods and supplies from Salt Lake City. The statue pictured in the Utah Women’s Walk represents the reunion of Hannah with her son.
Ruby Chacon,
Women in the Arts » Art

Rising Utah artist most notable for her paintings of the Mexican family, particularly the stories and traditions of her multicultural background and -- in Chacón’s words -- her “experience as a Utahna, a Chicana, and an Artist.” A graduate of the University of Utah, Chacón has been featured in many of the state’s most widely circulated newspapers, magazines, and books. She also has an extensive list of gallery shows and exhibitions in Utah, California, England, and Japan. Chacón was named one of Salt Lake Tribune’s Utahns of the Year in 2006. She has also received the Governor’s Mansion Award and the Mayor’s Award, both for visual arts.
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