May 1, 2012

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30 Women to Watch

In Utah, women are natural and effective leaders. Utah women are creative ...Read More

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30 Women to Watch

Di Lewis, Heather Stewart, Sarah Ryther Francom

May 1, 2012

Kristen Cox
Executive Director, Utah Department of Workforce Services

Kristen Cox is very aware of how her job impacts Utahns. As executive director of the Department of Workforce Services, Cox knows she has a responsibility to help the people who need DWS, as well as a responsibility to do it efficiently and save taxpayer money.

Under Cox’s leadership, the department’s caseload grew by nearly 50 percent. By restructuring eligibility services operation into a single division, she saved DWS more than $20 million while improving quality. Through other efficiency measures, DWS has saved the state an additional $54 million.

Cox is actively involved in politics and was a candidate for lieutenant governor in Maryland. She is also passionate about advocating for the disenfranchised. For example, she says 70 percent of people who are blind are unemployed and struggle with inequities that can be overcome with training and opportunities.

“A similar tragedy exists among refugees. Thousands of refugees reside in Utah,” she says. “We don’t need to travel to Africa to find people who need our support.”

Katina Curtis
Audit Senior Manager, Grant Thornton

At 29 years old, Katina Curtis’s rise to the top of her profession has been meteoric. She began her career at PricewaterhouseCoopers and six years later joined Grant Thornton as a senior manager, one of only two for the Salt Lake audit practice. 

“Despite the stereotypes about accounting and auditing, my job is very exciting. I’ve been able to travel to such exciting places, meet so many great people and learn about diverse businesses and industries because of my career,” she says. Her job most recently took her to a gold mine in the Shasta –Trinity National Forest.

Curtis is very involved in the community and has devoted a great deal of her talent to the Special Olympics of Utah, where she chaired the finance committee for several years and is currently the board chair. The organization has a $1.1 million operating budget and serves 2,300 athletes across the state. In the past year, under her leadership, it reported a preliminary 35 percent improvement in its bottom line and more than 250 percent growth in profit for its annual gala.

Kandace Dato
CEO, Carrier Consulting International; CEO, The Advent Group

After years of experience in the telecommunications industry, Kandace Dato started Carrier Consulting International. Launched in 2004, the company now provides solutions in voice, data, internet, video and security, and has clients throughout the world from Asia to South America to Europe.

Much of Dato’s success is due to her customer-first focus, according to Rosanne Simpson, president of sales. “Kandace [has] the ability to recognize a client’s need and if she does not have a solution today, she finds one working hand-in-hand with each and every client to drive their business forward,” Simpson says, adding that Dato is also committed to her employees. “Kandace offers her employees ongoing incentives, extensive personal and business development trainings, and recognition programs.”

In 2010 Dato launched her second venture, The Advent Group, as a way to express her creative side. The Advent Group, which is a promotional marketing and branding company, recently opened a second office in Texas.

Karen Smith Dell
President, Eagle Gate College – Layton

Though Karen Smith Dell grew up wanting to be a news anchor, she became a high school teacher to pay the bills while she waited to get offers from TV stations. That backup choice became a life-changing career for her.

Dell has been the president for four years at Layton’s Eagle Gate College, providing stability to the school after several years of volatility. Under her leadership, more students have enrolled and more are graduating. Employee turnover has also gone down. “The environment I stimulate is conducive to empowerment, creativity and feeling appreciated for a job well done,” she says. “Employees are happy coming to work because we have created an atmosphere of ‘team;’ we all are here to support each other.”

Dell has also worked to add new programs to the college’s curriculum; for example, it now has a nursing program that is partnered with Utah State University. She has served with several community organizations, including the Salt Lake Chamber, Women in Business, Leadership Utah and People Helping People.

Maria S. Farrington
CEO, Discovery Gateway children’s museum

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