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Founders Day 2024 at the U

The University of Utah Office of Alumni Relations annually presents its Founders Day Distinguished Alumni Awards to alumni for their outstanding professional achievements, public service and/or commitment to the U.

Additionally, the Distinguished Service Award is presented to an individual(s) who has contributed significantly to the advancement of the university and their community through outstanding service and dedication. This year, a GOLD Alumni Award will also be presented to an outstanding alum who graduated in the last decade.

These annual distinguished and honorary alumni awards, along with honorary degrees, are the highest honors awarded by the University of Utah.

Learn about becoming a 2024 Founders Day sponsor here.

When: Wednesday, Feb. 28
Where: Cleone Peterson Eccles Alumni House, 155 Central Campus Dr., Salt Lake City, UT, 84112
Registration: Registration for this event can be found here.

2024 Distinguished Alumni Awards recipients

Jesselie B. Anderson, B.A. '68

As a decade-long member of the Utah Board of Education, Jesselie B. Anderson, B.A. '68, has had a significant impact on our community through her advocacy for children, the arts and education. After graduating from the U, Anderson worked with several members of Utah’s congressional delegation in Washington, D.C. Since then, she has worked with many organizations, including the Children’s Center; the Western Folklife Center; the Success in Education Foundation; the Utah Shakespeare Festival; the Zoo, Arts, and Parks Preservation Committee; the Governor’s Mansion Foundation; and many more. She was chair of the Utah Symphony/Utah Opera’s Government Relations Committee, serves on the I.J. and Jeanné Wagner Foundation’s board and was a critical advocate for the Natural History Museum of Utah. At the U, she has served in critical leadership roles on the President’s Campaign Cabinet Executive Committee, the National Advisory Council, the Health Sciences Education Resource and Development Council, the U Hospital and Clinics Board of Directors and the Presidents Club Committee.

Edna Anderson-Taylor, BFA '59

Edna Anderson-Taylor, BFA '59, was the first woman to broadcast on KUED and later went on to play Miss Julie on “Romper Room” on KSL Television for over 17 years from 1963 until 1980. After leaving television, she went on to work at KSL Radio as an account executive and was instrumental in the founding of American Women in Radio and Television in Utah. In retirement, she became president of the Assistance League and, together with her husband, Jerry, started to fund scholarships for the U’s communication department, with a focus on providing scholarships for underrepresented and nontraditional candidates. This year, the couple funded the Edna Anderson-Taylor Institute, one of just two in the country that works to amplify the voices of women in journalism and serve as a one-of-a-kind resource to understand the most pressing issues of public concern today.

Verlinda Montoya, BSN '82, M.S. '90

Verlinda Montoya, BSN '82, M.S. '90, is an elder, medicine woman and spiritual leader in her Native American tribes, Northern Tiwa and Hopi. Montoya has devoted her life to serving others, providing health care and wellness resources for more than 40 years to patients who have been historically underserved. She is CEO of Heart of Humanity Home Care, which provides culturally inclusive and spiritually competent health care services in Novato, California. In recognition of her service and leadership in the health care community, Montoya was appointed commissioner of the Novato District in 1997. She served on the Marin Women's Commission for six appointed terms. She was elected chair of the Seven Circles Foundation, the Grassroots Leadership Network and the Heart of Humanity Foundation and served as president of the Utah Association of Home Health Agencies. Adopted by the Lakota-Sioux tribe, Montoya has been facilitating Native American ceremonies—Lakota and Hopi—for more than 20 years, conducting traditional Lakota ceremony under the guidance of Lakota medicine people.

GOLD Alumni Award (Graduate of the Last Decade)

Anjanette Watts Walsh, DDS '19

Anjanette Watts Walsh, DDS '19 is one of the primary dental care providers to families in native communities in rural Alaska. She lives and practices dentistry in Utqiaġvik (formerly known as Barrow), one of the northernmost cities in the U.S., a city that experiences 24 hours of darkness from November to January. With four years of experience in the village, she is one of the longest-serving providers in the area, and she will continue to serve until at least 2025. Originally from Salt Lake City, Walsh moved to Alaska in 1994. She describes Alaska as desolate, cold and unforgiving, but explains that she fell in love with it because of the people, the culture and the dental needs there. At the U, Walsh was co-president of the Student Advisory Committee and student speaker at the School of Dentistry’s 2019 Commencement. She is a recipient of the 2019 Elizabeth Fuhriman Gardner Prize from the University of Utah Women in Health, Medicine and Science Program and the Office of Health Equity and Inclusion.

Distinguished Service Award

Ronald McBride and Vicky McBride, B.S. '82

Ronald D. McBride worked as an assistant and then head coach for University of Utah Football for 21 years. As head coach, he directed the Utes to 88 wins, six bowl appearances and a pair of conference championships. He was inducted into the Utah Athletics Hall of Fame, Weber State Athletics Hall of Fame and Utah Sports Hall of Fame. He is also a recipient of the NAACP’s Martin Luther King Jr. Award for his impact on the lives of many of his athletes and their families on and off the field. Ronald McBride founded the Ron McBride Foundation, which provides funding for afterschool programs for at-risk elementary, middle school and high school students in Title 1 schools throughout Utah.

Vicky McBride, B.S. '82, is a proud graduate of the U. She has worked in education, counseling and sales. She was also a member of many boards, including Friends for Sight, Combined Health Appeal and Prevent Child Abuse, where she was honored with the Legacy of Hope award. Vicky McBride, along with her husband, has been integral in the lives of former Utah student-athletes.

The McBrides have four children, all of whom attended the U.