A night celebrating independent journalism and difference makers across Utah

November 16, 2023

Featuring the first-ever NewsMakers Awards, a special update on The Tribune from Executive Editor Lauren Gustus, and entertainment from musician and actress Dee-Dee Darby-Duffin.

2023 NewsMaker Awards

NewsMaker 2023: Gail Miller, for her profound impact on the communities of Utah as a transformational leader in business and philanthropy. 

In the heart of Salt Lake City, there's a name that resonates with transformative impact – Gail Miller. It’s a name everyone recognizes, not just because of the car dealerships that bear her family's name or her role as the former owner of the Utah Jazz, but because her influence reaches far beyond the realms of business and sports. Gail is known for her resolute commitment to the community, always giving more time to business, civic and educational endeavors. 

Gail is also the owner of the Larry H. Miller Company, established by Larry and Gail in May of 1979 with the purchase of their first automobile dealership in Murray, Utah. After Larry died in 2009, Gail oversaw a massive company restructure, guiding the Miller family's philanthropic efforts and involving herself in causes and community-related issues. As Gordon Monson wrote for The Salt Lake Tribune in 2017, Gail plays to win the game of life — and helps others do the same.

A wearer of many hats, Gail is chair of the Larry H. Miller Family Foundation and presides over the Larry H. Miller Education Foundation. She serves on the Zions Bank Advisory Board, and is co-

chair of the Kem C. Gardner Institute. Gail has been recognized with many public and private honors: She is the recipient of five honorary doctorate degrees, the Congressional Award Foundation’s Horizon Award, the Salt Lake Chamber’s Giant in Our City Award, and the internationally recognized ATHENA Award. 

In 2019, The Tribune awarded Gail  Utahn of the year for her exceptional leadership and contributions to the state. The Salt Lake Tribune Editorial Board argued her unwavering commitment to addressing critical issues, such as combating racism, homelessness, and advocating for education, showcases her dedication to making Utah a better place for all its residents. 

Gail has consistently been an advocate for the importance of continued investment in Utah's educational system. Her 2019 op-ed in The Salt Lake Tribune underscored her belief that Utah should not compromise on education funding, especially as the state faced various economic challenges at the time. 

In 2022, Salt Lake Community College’s business school was named for Gail — making it the only one in Utah and, the school says, one of only a few in the country named exclusively for a woman. Gail, who’s now considered an “emeritus trustee,” donated $10 million to the business school, has been a major donor to SLCC for decades and was a trustee from 2013 to 2017, according to the Tribune.

Over the years, Gail has been a champion for education, health, women's and children's causes with the family and LHM having been involved with 400 different charities.

Gail has also been actively involved in the problem of homelessness in Utah for years. She’s the co-chair of the Utah Homeless Council and serves on the Shelter the Homeless board. In 2019, a homeless resource center was named the Gail Miller Resource Center. 

“They’ve given all their energy to try to help eliminate homelessness here in the Salt Lake Valley,” Shelter the Homeless President Harris Simmons told the Tribune in 2019. “... As a board, we felt that we would be missing a great opportunity if we didn’t recognize these timeless efforts by someone that we all have really come to love throughout this community.”

In 2022, The Larry H. & Gail Miller Family Foundation donated $5 million to a special fund created just before the COVID-19 pandemic’s onset to find, buy and renovate aging rental units instead of seeing their residents forced to move and the homes demolished, according to the Tribune. The foundation also donated $3.5 million to the Huntsman Mental Health Foundation, which will help fund construction of the new Kem and Carolyn Gardner Mental Health Crisis Care Center.

Gail was also an early and passionate supporter of Count My Vote, a non-partisan, non-profit community organization that advocates for the reform of Utah's candidate nomination system. Gail became their first chairwoman in 2013 and donated $100,000 to their cause that year, according to Utah Policy. Count My Vote sought to move away from the traditional caucus convention system in an effort to involve more voters. They worked with lawmakers in 2014 to pass SB54, which established another way for candidates to get on the ballot - gathering a certain number of voter signatures. Since then, voter participation in Utah has only increased.

Beyond her professional endeavors, Gail shares her life with her husband, Kim Wilson, and their combined family of nine children. Residing in Salt Lake City, they enjoy traveling, spending time with family, and serving others. 

“I’m getting closer every day,” Gail said of retiring in a 2018 interview with Deseret News. Yet, five years later at 80 years old, Gail’s persistent commitment to her community and her involvement in meaningful projects seem undiminished. Gail’s journey may be close to ending but her legacy will live on forever.

Utah Solutions: The Policy Project for impacting the lives of youth across Utah by creating The Period Project and The Teen Center Project. 

In the three years it has been operating, The Policy Project have infused their mission to remove barriers to opportunity through solution-based policy into the Utah community, creating lasting change already.

The organization have several ongoing projects, including The Period Project, The Safe Child Project, The Teen Center Project and Period Positive Workplace.

“We choose issues by looking at what can be successful in the state of Utah that is upstream and what we know there is a problem with,” said Emily Bell McCormick, founder and president of The Policy Project in an interview with the Tribune. “And so we'll typically balance it off of our three audiences — the general public, philanthropies and the legislature, and say, where can we get these three to align at this moment in time?”

The Teen Center Project addresses the growing number of Utah students who are struggling to meet their basic needs, such as access to food, clean clothes, and a place to shower. By establishing "Teen Centers" in high schools through a collaborative effort between the Utah Legislature and private donors, the project ensures that students have access to vital resources. $18 million was raised to create physical spaces in 60 high schools in Utah to meet the physiological and social needs of students.

The Policy Project claims that providing these resources can help to improve graduation rates, enhance students' confidence and dignity, destigmatize basic needs, provide access to trusted adults, and interrupt intergenerational poverty.

It’s a belief of The Policy Project that policy has the power to impact everything. Their website notes that they fulfill their mission to forward healthy policy through many action including public engagement, advocacy, education public awareness through media tools, public outreach programs and events, partnership with local and national governments and collaboration with thought leaders and private community and business leaders. 

McCormick said in an interview with the Tribune that The Policy Project is different from lobbyists because of their focus on implementing change. 

“We know we're not truly successful unless we implement something in a successful way so that it actually does, at the end of the day, change lives,” McCormick said. “… I think because our natural interests, we're not really beholden to anyone. We are beholden to our duty to help people become better and to create a more equitable society.”

The first project they launched, The Period Project, focuses on ending "period poverty" by providing universal access to menstrual products in schools, workplaces, and public spaces. This campaign seeks to destigmatize menstruation and ensure that period products are readily available, much like essential items such as toilet paper.

Utah became the first state in the U.S. to offer free period products in all state-owned buildings, thanks to a collaborative effort with state officials and advocates. The project also advocates for companies to provide period products to their employees and patrons, extending its reach globally through international partnerships. Through these initiatives, The Period Project aims to address the challenges faced by school-age girls and ensure that students have the resources needed to maintain their dignity, access education, and succeed academically.

The Period Project led the effort to pass House Bill 162 “Period Products in Schools” unanimously by the Utah legislature in March 2022. “This bill requires all public and charter schools in the state to provide period products in girls and unisex restrooms within all school facilities,” The Policy Project website reads.

The Policy Project partnered with the Larry H. And Gail Miller Family Foundation and the Andrus Family Foundation for a public private partnership where these private donors bought the actual dispensers for menstrual products that were installed in schools, said McCormick. The Miller Family Foundation donated $1 million to purchase and install the dispensers, The State Legislature then funded the installation and the product that filled those dispensers, according to the Larry H. & Gail Miller Family Foundation Impact Report in 2022.

Going forward, The Policy Project plans to continue to “work toward healthy, equitable policy for the future of our children, our community, and our world, knowing that when every individual has access to opportunity, communities flourish.” Their newest project, The Safe Child Project has a goal of responding to the problem of child abuse in Utah: 1 in 7 children experience sexual abuse before age 18, according to The Policy Project. The project aims to address this issue by expanding abuse prevention education for K-6 students in schools and promote open discussion about child abuse prevention.

Tribune Service: Tim Fitzpatrick, for his 40 years helping to build The Salt Lake Tribune’s legacy as a reporter, editor and newsroom leader. 

To borrow a great movie title, Tim Fitzpatrick is "everything everywhere all at once" at The Salt Lake Tribune. He's loved, he's respected and he's a talented leader.

Tim started as a ‘copy boy’ before joining the copy desk and eventually became a reporter then editor, then reporter again.He has worn almost every hat at The Tribune, including opinion page editor and HR director. Notably, Tim was a constant source of support to staff and helped guide The Tribune through the years of ownership changes, restructuring and its eventual transition to a nonprofit.

With a deep knowledge of Utah community and culture, he has long been a source of knowledge and mentorship to staff. As a reporter and editor, he has served on almost every desk. One thread through his career, however, has been his indefatigable interest in scientific discovery and new technologies. He has covered everything from the cold fusion ‘discovery’ and the Downwinders who suffered health impacts of 1950s nuclear testing in southern Utah.  For the past few years, as a reporter for The Tribune’s Innovation Lab, Tim has chased stories about renewable energy and other science-based solutions to energy and environmental challenges in Utah. 

Tim has a calming presence in moments of chaos and scrambled deadlines. He can be counted on to assure even the most anxious journalist that all will work out. He’s a master quipster. He can ease tension in a room with a few timely words and a keen observation. Besides, the man knows how to dress. We count on him to show up in an oxford shirt, wool sweater, colorful (usually red) high-top Chuck Taylors and a pair of glasses hanging from a Chum retainer around his neck. Honestly, if he changed his outfit the world would spin off its axis. But in an unpredictable and often unsettling world, Tim’s style is something we can count on. It’s soothing.

The Tribune is in Tim’s blood, with generations of Fitzpatricks having helped build this institution. And The Tribune will always have Tim as a part of its legacy.

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NewsMakers 2024

More information on NewsMakers 2024 will be released in the coming weeks. For questions, please contact Ciel Hunter, chunter@sltrib.com.

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