7 outstanding women are honored in the Utah business community

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The Salt Lake Chamber embodies the phrase “Empowered women empower women” with its Women & Business Conference 2022 and the ATHENA Awards Luncheon.

The chamber — Utah’s largest and longest-serving business association — recognizes the achievements of business leaders who make a difference in their communities. The 46th annual Women & Business Conference serves as a fundraiser for the Women’s Business Center of Utah, as well as an opportunity for attendees to hear from inspirational speakers, network with people and business, and learn valuable skills at the Grand America Hotel.

The ATHENA International Award is presented each year to a leader who has excelled in business and community service. Six other individuals receive the Pathfinder Award in recognition of their achievements and efforts in promoting women’s success in business.

Here’s a preview of this year’s honorees – and why this is a must-attend event for Utah women in any industry or field.

ATHENA Leadership Award recipients

Vicki Varela is the Executive Director of the Office of Tourism in the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Opportunities. She leads Utah’s national and international strategy to create a thriving and responsible visitor economy.

Varela has received the highest honors in her industry, including being named US Director of Tourism of the Year and being recognized as one of America’s 25 Great Minds by Hospitality, Sales and Marketing International.

Vicki Varela, Executive Director, Utah Office of Tourism
Vicki Varela, Executive Director, Utah Office of Tourism

Salt Lake Chamber President and CEO Derek Miller cited Varela’s extensive leadership experience — ranging from her time under three different Utah governors to her time in higher education.

“Vicki Varela has been a mainstay in Utah public service for decades and is one of our state’s foremost advocates,” Miller said. “Vicki truly embodies the Utah brand of ‘Life Elevated’ and does her best to uplift others and show what Utah has to offer. We look forward to honoring them among the previous ATHENAs to inspire future generations.”

Pathfinder award winner

Each of the following Pathfinder Prize recipients has worked to break new ground by promoting the development and recognition of women in business.

Heather Doggett, COO, Loveland Living Planet Aquarium

Heather Doggett, COO of Loveland Living Planet Aquarium, has over 30 years of experience in the zoo and aquarium profession and has the knowledge and passion to create engaging experiences for guests. She has spearheaded efforts in staff training, guest engagement, community relations and conservation education at respected organizations across the country, including the National Aquarium and now Utah’s own world-class aquarium.

Marlise Fisher, Regional President, WaFd Bank

Marlise Fisher serves as the Utah Regional President for WaFd Bank, overseeing the retail and commercial banking businesses. After working as a stockbroker and financial advisor, Fisher joined WaFd as a branch manager in Salt Lake City. She rose through the ranks to her current position as region president and was instrumental in WaFd’s success in the region.

Natalie Kaddas, President/CEO, Kaddas Enterprises

Under Natalie Kaddas’ leadership, Kaddas Enterprises tripled revenue and increased net income annually. The company specializes in manufacturing thermoformed plastic products and innovative solutions for the energy, transportation and aerospace industries. Kaddas Enterprises is working to eliminate animal-caused power outages worldwide with its patented Birdguard™ designs. Kaddas is a recipient of numerous awards and serves as Chair of the US Chamber’s Small Business Council.

Kacie Malouf, Co-Founder, Malouf Companies™

Kacie Malouf’s small business, founded in 2003 with her husband, now includes 20 companies in home and fashion retail, creative services, technology, logistics and venture capital.

Malouf companies employ 1,600 people and work with 21,000 retail partners, and the Malouf Foundation works to end sex trafficking. Malouf supports women entrepreneurs through her venture capital work and was named 2022 Female Entrepreneur of the Year by the Mountain West Capital Network.

Sui Lang Panoke, Senior Vice President, Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Zions Bank

In her role as Zions Bank’s Senior Vice President of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Sui Lang Panoke develops strategies to advance diversity, equity and inclusion throughout the bank and the communities it serves. She also founded Rethink International and Rethink Tank, both of which work to challenge prejudice and perceptions and teach people to build bridges across differences. Panoke brings her leadership skills to many boards and committees, including the Utah Women & Leadership Project.

dr Astrid Tuminez, President of Utah Valley University

dr Astrid S. Tuminez has served as President of Utah Valley University since 2018. Born in a farming village in the Philippines, her educational path took her to the United States, where she earned degrees from Brigham Young University, Harvard, and MIT. As a Microsoft executive, Tuminez led the company’s affairs in Southeast Asia. She has also worked in higher education at the University of Singapore and in philanthropy and venture capital in New York City. Tuminez is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the author of numerous publications.

Support women in business

If you register for the Women & Business Conference 2022 and the ATHENA Awards Luncheon, you will not only receive valuable business insights. You’ll support other businesswomen, expand your network and meet some of the brightest minds in the country.

The conference and awards luncheon will be held on November 14 from 8:00 am to 3:30 pm at the Grand America Hotel in Salt Lake City. Register for the event on the Salt Lake Chamber website.

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