The summit has a long-standing tradition of honoring individuals and companies that make significant contributions to Utah’s economic opportunities, local communities, and industries.
The awards have been known by different names, but their recipients have one goal in common — to make Utah the premier destination for business and entrepreneurs. Recipients live and work full-time in the state and have supported the local economy for five years or more. (You can view past award recipients here.)
One Utah Businessperson of the Year
Regina Hokanson, President & CEO, HHI Corporation
Regina Hokanson is the president and CEO of HHI, a construction, engineering, and manufacturing firm. Her advancement came after the joint acquisition of the firm in 2011 with her spouse, Cliff Hokanson, continuing a family legacy of more than 50 years of operating the company. Hokanson has a bachelor's degree in psychology and leads the effort in acquiring new contracts and projects, including clients such as the Department of Defense and the State Department of the U.S. federal government. During the COVID-19 pandemic, HHI created chemical and biological isolation containers to help treat patients.
During her tenure, Hokanson has been instrumental in extensively expanding HHI's operations, including acquiring a 54-acre campus in 2013 and nearly tripling the number of employees with 50% more women in construction than the U.S. national average. Hokanson's leadership philosophy centers around hiring exceptional individuals willing to accomplish seemingly impossible projects using the core values HHI's namesake represents: honesty, hard work, and innovation.
One Utah Business of the Year
Founded in 2011 with headquarters in Lehi, Lendio is a free marketplace for small business loans where lenders compete for business. Lendio partners with over 75 lenders to offer small business owners access to working capital to start or grow their businesses. In 2021, Glassdoor ranked Lendio the No. 8 Best Place to Work. Lendio employees benefit from a hybrid work schedule, pay equity, generous benefits, and policies supporting diversity.
One Utah International Business of the Year
Beauty Industry Group
Utah's Beauty Industry Group sells products in 165 countries to more than 100,000 stylists and salons worldwide. With a mission to deliver true beauty to the world, the hair extension and solution company is headquartered in Salt Lake City with 150 team members. It has additional offices in China, Australia, England, Germany, Canada, New York, Miami, Los Angeles, and San Diego, with plans to open physical operations in another four eastern countries by mid-2023. The company’s impressive and continued growth is reflected in the jobs in Utah and worldwide, employing more than 550 workers, with over 3,000 working throughout Asia. Having an internationally-known and respected business headquartered in Utah helps support the state's goal of being known as the crossroads of the world.
Cameron Russell Williams Rising Impact Award
Kenneth Boggs, The Kenneth Boggs Group
Kenneth Boggs is an African American businessman, philanthropist, investor, and educational speaker passionate about empowering youth. Raised in Los Angeles, Boggs founded Kenneth Boggs Suits in 2012 and quickly became a self-made fashion mogul. In 2017, he and a childhood friend formed The Kenneth Boggs Group, a global business firm with a philanthropic focus engaged in various projects across North America, Africa, and Asia. The group focuses on solving real-world problems, including constructing public restrooms, schools, affordable housing, and medical clinics. As a board member, Kenneth adds valuable insight and support to the foster care community by donating meals, a custom suit for the Fostering Hope Gala, and inviting foster care youth into his business to share his inspiring story and teach etiquette.
Governor’s Medal for Science and Technology
Lora Gibbons is a teacher at Mountain Heights Academy with over 23 years of experience. She knows students are our future and inspires countless students through her teaching, mentorship, and fostering a love of learning with all students, from accelerated learners to those who require more support. Gibbons strongly supports STEM education in Utah with involvement in state and national STEM competitions.
She has mentored nationally-winning eCYBERMISSION teams, state and national finalist Samsung Solve for Tomorrow teams, Lexus Eco Challenge teams, and Thomas Edison Pitch students. She’s on the Utah Science Teachers Association board, works on various Utah State Board of Education projects and cohorts, and works with the STEM Action Center as a chief science officer.
Julie L. Valentine, Ph.D., RN, SANE-A, FAAN
Dr. Julie Valentine, associate dean for undergraduate studies and research at the Brigham Young University College of Nursing, has conducted groundbreaking research on sexual assault, driving Utah’s improvements in addressing sexual violence. Her collaborative research study with the Utah Bureau of Forensic Sciences, starting in 2011, captures data on sexual assault cases. This growing dataset of approximately 10,000 sexual assault cases is the largest database of its kind.
Dr. Valentine’s research has been foundational for several legislative bills, including House Bill 200 Sexual Assault Kit Processing Amendments mandating the submission and testing of all sexual assault kits resulting in statewide submission rates improving from 38% to 98%. She was the primary author of Utah’s original Sexual Assault Kit Initiative grant and the District Attorney of New York grant, which awarded around $3.2 million to Utah to fund the testing of over 11,000 backlogged sexual assault kits and identification of over 2,000 suspects. Dr. Valentine’s research has resulted in multidisciplinary reforms in education, practice, and policy in Utah and the United States.
David J. Bearss, Ph.D.
Dr. David Bearss is the president, chairman, and CEO at Halia Therapeutics. His mentorship and achievements are transforming therapeutics, spawning discovery, seeding startups, and strengthening Utah’s life sciences community. His successful entrepreneurial track record of drug development spans the last 25 years, including the discovery of 16 compounds that moved to clinical development.
He started numerous companies, including, notably, Tolero Pharmaceuticals in Lehi, Utah, which resulted in a successful exit to Sumitomo Dainippon of nearly $1 billion (a state industry record). Dr. Bearss helped establish the research arm of Huntsman Cancer Institute and the U2TAH Therapeutics Accelerator at the University of Utah, which guides investigators and researchers in moving their programs toward clinical studies and licensing. Dr. Bearss serves on the board of Halia Therapeutics, Biolexis Therapeutics, Canary Speech, Xenthera, and Galvan Health. He was one of the science experts Gov. Cox consulted during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Energy Pioneer Awards
Sen. David Hinkins, Utah Legislature
Sen. David Hinkins has served in the Utah Legislature since 2009, where his primary focus has been on the state’s natural resources and energy policy. A businessman by trade, Sen. Hinkins worked in the electrical business serving industrial mining and agricultural customers. As a legislator and businessman, he embodied efforts to keep electricity affordable and reliable. His work in and understanding of the energy industry have earned him the trust of state leaders in policy considerations that affect the energy sector.
San Rafael Energy Research Center
The San Rafael Energy Research Center, located in Emery County, develops global solutions in sustainable energy from research and piloting to commercialization and local on-site manufacturing. Made possible by partnerships with local universities, government offices, and private sector entities, the anticipated solutions will result in dramatic reductions in the cost of energy, which in turn will accelerate the pace of technological breakthroughs and scientific advancement worldwide.