SALT LAKE CITY – She led the state for just 14 months, but made a huge impact on public service. Today, Former governor Olene Walker was honored with a lifetime achievement award from the YWCA.
Hundreds packed a ballroom at the Grand America Hotel in Salt Lake this morning to honor a woman who is no stranger to the spotlight. The YWCA presented Olene Walker with a lifetime achievement award. She served as the state’s first female Governor in 2003. While in office, she pushed for education and health care reform for women and children. At age 84, Walker is dealing with some health issues, but didn’t want to miss out on today’s festivities.
“I want to say thank you to YWCA and all they do,” said Olene Walker.
A trailblazer on several fronts, Walker encouraged women to get involved in their community.
“Women need to become strong and bring part of themselves by being well educated and caring.”
Emmy Award winning journalist Laura Ling gave the keynote address.
She drew from her harrowing experience in North Korea where she was held captive for five months after crossing into the Communist country while filming a documentary. Former President Clinton traveled to North Korea to secure her release.
“We all go through our challenging times and I hope my talk gives people inspiration to be hopeful,” said Ling. “It also gave me perspective and strength to be able to maintain hope and see light out of that darkness.”
The YWCA also honored Linda Leckman, Vice-President and CEO of Intermountain Medical Group, Carolyn Goodwin Schubach, Director of Utah Principals Academy and University of Utah professor Rose Marie Hunter for her community service.
Peggy Tomsic was also recognized. She represented the plaintiffs who sued the state of Utah over its ban on gay marriages.
“I am very much driven to do what I can for people who are less fortunate than I am,” said Tomsic.
Anne Burkholder, CEO of YWCA of Utah says each candidate is a true example of an exceptional leader.
“We cheer them on, we hold them up as examples to young women and older women alike. We wish them well in the years ahead,” said Burkholder.
The YWCA has honored over 500 women in Utah over the past 27 years.