Qiling Wang, Deseret News
Utah Jazz owner Gail Miller serves up salad during the annual Christmas dinner to more than 800 homeless Utahns at St. Vincent de Paul Dining Hall in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, Dec. 25, 2018.

Over my lifetime, I’ve had the good fortune to know many successful women and men. I believe, to a person, each of these accomplished people attribute many of their lifetime achievements to a mother, a grandmother or another female role model.

The month of March has been designated by Congress as Women’s History Month. It is a time to celebrate the remarkable accomplishments of women in diverse sectors of society. I am personally grateful for the women who have been such a positive influence in my life.

I would like to acknowledge four remarkable Utah women, among many, who have made amazing contributions to our state. Each of them has overcome daunting hardships, has worked incredibly hard, and has made a real difference.

Carolyn Tanner Irish has always had a great passion: championing people. She became the first female leader of a major denomination in the state, serving as the 10th Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Utah. She is also an accomplished businesswoman, chairing the board of directors of the O.C. Tanner Company.

In honoring Carolyn as a Giant in our City, the Salt Lake Chamber described her this way: “As a spiritual leader she counsels, advises and heals. As a business leader her priorities remain the same. A pioneer among pioneers; she reaches out to the greater community with a sense of purpose, providing physical, artistic and intellectual beauty. Her sense of responsibility in creating stable jobs and lives has affected untold thousands in the state. Indeed, her actions foster the very essence of the word community.”

Another community giant is Gail Miller, owner and chair of the Larry H. Miller Management Corporation, which includes the Utah Jazz and many other enterprises. In 2018, Gail published her book, “Courage to be You: Inspiring Lessons From an Unexpected Journey.”

Her journey included a 44-year marriage to business mogul Larry H. Miller, and her “personal transformation from shy housewife to confident leader.” She writes that it took time to fully realize her value as she helped Larry turn a single Toyota dealership into a $4.7 billion operation with 64 dealerships, and transform a $22 million purchase of the Utah Jazz in 1986 into a franchise worth $1.2 billion. Today, Gail is a business and philanthropic icon whose value and importance to Utah is immeasurable.

Another Utah business giant is Carol Holding who, with her husband, Earl, purchased a run-down truck stop west of Green River, Wyoming, and built a remarkable business empire. Carol and Earl pumped gas and waited on tables in their early marriage, working shoulder-to-shoulder for many decades.

Carol’s influence continues to be seen in nearly every detail and the amazing customer service offered in the firm’s hotels, ski resorts, the oil industry and in the loyalty of employees.

Finally, Amy Rees Anderson is the managing partner and founder of Rees Capital, an angel investment firm that provides entrepreneurs and business executives critical guidance and support to help their companies grow. She founded and was CEO of MediConnect Global, Inc., a worldwide leader in medical records retrieval and digitization. Amy led all aspects of the business, including a worldwide workforce of over 1,000 employees. Her business achieved rapid growth and, in 2012, Amy successfully led MediConnect’s acquisition by Verisk Analytics for over $377 million.

Upon selling her company, Amy founded the IPOP Foundation, or In Pursuit of Perfection, a charity helping promote, educate and perpetuate entrepreneurship as a pathway to self-reliance. Her new book, “What Awesome Looks Like: How to Excel in Business and Life,” shares Amy’s insights and strategies for success that aspiring entrepreneurs, employees and executives can replicate in their own lives.

3 comments on this story

Women don’t have to be wealthy or famous to make an enormous difference. Young women, older women, single women and married women provide examples of excellence in every sector and phase in life — as employees, volunteers, leaders, raising a family by themselves or raising a family with a partner.

I frequently think of the much-quoted speech by former First Lady Barbara Bush, who told a class of women college graduates: “Your success as a family ... our success as a society ... depends not on what happens in the White House, but on what happens inside your house.”