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Gardner Institute honors community leaders with ‘Informed Decision Maker of the Year’ Award  

The annual award recognizes individuals and entities that work to help the community prosper.

Each year, the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute recognizes individuals and entities that work, often behind the scenes and with little fanfare, to help the Utah community prosper. Called “Informed Decision Makers,” they are selected based on criteria consistent with the institute’s core values: responsibility to the community, integrity and relevance, accountability, collaboration and a positive work environment.

“The Gardner Institute is pleased to honor five outstanding individuals and organizations who exemplify a genuine commitment to their community through their work,” said Gardner Institute Director Natalie Gochnour. “These honorees embody the values that define who we are, how we conduct ourselves and what comprises our work culture at the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute. We applaud their work ethic, values and dedication.”

Below are the 2024 Informed Decision Maker of the Year Award recipients.

Theresa Foxley

Theresa Foxley is chief of staff to rPlus Energies, a national leader in utility-scale renewable energy and energy storage development. Foxley is passionate about developing diversified, dispatchable and affordable renewable energy. A Utah native, she has spent her career championing economic growth in Utah and serves her community through numerous boards and initiatives. Foxley’s commitment to business recruitment as the president and CEO of the Economic Development Corporation of Utah brought numerous corporations to the state with an eye on the distribution of economic impact for the entire state, especially rural Utah. Foxley has been quoted as saying she is an “unabashed promoter of Utah Economic Assets and quality of life.”

Ross Van Vranken

Ross Van Vranken is the former executive director for the Huntsman Mental Health Institute (HMHI) with the University of Utah Health. HMHI is a multi-million-dollar enterprise supporting a behavioral health care system anchored by a 170-bed acute psychiatric and substance use hospital. HMHI services all ages, disorders and socioeconomic groups. Van Vranken has been a leader in behavioral health, dating back to the early 1980s. Van Vranken’s leadership and passion extend beyond his tangible accomplishments; how he leads amplifies his impact on others and the community. His ability inspires individuals and teams to foster an environment of inclusivity, collaboration, compassion, accountability and innovation.

Bicycle Collective

Bicycle Collective is a group of nonprofit bike shops refurbishing donated bicycles and putting them into the hands of those in need—focusing on children, newly resettled refugees, immigrants, individuals experiencing homelessness or housing insecurity, individuals recovering from substance abuse and low-to-moderate income households. Bicycle Collective operates programs in Salt Lake City, Ogden, Provo and St. George. Using a sustainable business model at each location, Bicycle Collective accepts donated bicycles and repairs, refurbishes or recycles them. In 2023, Bicycle Collective gave 1,349 bicycles to those in need through their Bikes-for-Goodwill and Earn-A-Bike programs.

Circles Salt Lake

Circles Salt Lake’s mission is to build community to end poverty through intentional friendships, personal transformation and systemic change led by the people closest to the challenge. They envision a community where everyone has enough money, meaning and friends to thrive. As a unique community-driven initiative to support families in a holistic, long-term solution to economic stability, Circles is committed to helping community members with lesser means become financially independent and free of government services. The average duration in the program is three years before graduating – retaining hope, dignity and financial stability for the rest of their lives.

Seager Memorial Clinic

The Seager Memorial Clinic provides the underserved with free, easy-access, non-judgmental, charitable medical, dental, vision and mental health care. Everything they do is 100% free to everyone seeking care. The clinic leaves a legacy of healing in the community by serving as a safety net for anyone struggling to access the traditional health care system due to financial, social, mental health or other barriers. Located in Ogden, Utah, the Seager Memorial Clinic has completed 84,300 patient visits since 1988.