By Jeanette Bennett, Kat Nash, Amy McDonald & Greg Bennett

Meet 40 of Utah Valley’s most fabulous folk who have added color to the community with their strokes of genius. The layers of paint beneath their success just add to their picture-perfect fabulousness.

From left to right, Lindsey Shores, Chris Crabb and Tonia Doussett. (Photo by Instudio/Kenneth Linge)
From left to right, Lindsey Shores, Chris Crabb and Tonia Doussett. (Photo by Instudio/Kenneth Linge)

Chris Crabb Age

27 • Provo

Stroke of genius Chris was on the fast track to law school when informal jam sessions strummed into “We Are The Strike,” where this bow-tie-clad BYU grad is the lead singer. The Strike struck big in 2013 when they won BYU’s Battle of the Bands and played at Stadium of Fire. “There’s a schism between pop and the musician world, but we want to marry the two,” Chris says. With parents in entertainment, Chris says he grew up right-brained, and in his 20s he’s learned to reel in his creative side and give it structure.

Picture of everyday life

“Work 9-5 at Refinement Records (startup that helps musicians launch careers), then practice, record or play a gig with The Strike.”

Layers of paint beneath success Growing up in artsy South Pasadena.


Lindsey Shores

Age 28 • Provo

Stroke of genius

Lindsey looks good when others look great. She fashions local stars including Mindy Gledhill, Elaine Bradley of Neon Trees and Imagine Dragons for their “On Top of the World” music video. She also provides free makeovers for women who need a lift through “The Fitting.” For the rest of us, she shares fashion expertise in her column “The Wasatch Wardrobe.”

Picture of everyday life

“After a good workout, I’m either pulling clothes and jewelry for an upcoming gig, working on set, or consulting, styling or shopping for a client.”

Add color to 2014

“Be a part of New York Fashion Week in September and hopefully start my fashion line.”

Layers of paint behind success

“After working with one of Hollywood’s top stylists for A-list celebrities, I brought those skills to Utah.” (See more on Instagram @lindseynshores)


Tonia Doussett

Age 42 • Orem

Stroke of genius This month marks 15 years for ComedySportz, which Tonia owns with her famous-faced husband, Curt. “We love being in Provo and doing shows all over Utah Valley.” She envisioned a different script for her life than one “behind the whistle” of this team-themed improv group, but “15 years later we’re still going strong,” she says.

Picture of everyday life “Work, family and being a shuttle service for my five kids.”

Add color to 2014 “We’ll celebrate our 15 years in business and keep working to be a force for good in the entertainment industry.”

From left to right, Jess Smart Smiley, Kerry Summers, Jodi Maxfield and Isaac Dial. (Photo by Instudio/Kenneth Linge)
From left to right, Jess Smart Smiley, Kerry Summers, Jodi Maxfield and Isaac Dial. (Photo by Instudio/Kenneth Linge)

Kerry Summers

Age 62 • Orem

Stroke of genius With bouffant hair, sideburns for days and bedazzled costumes, Kerry looks the part — and has mastered the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll’s voice. Kerry has worked full time as entertainer, impressionist and ventriloquist for 30+ years, and now this grandfather of two also impersonates Tom Jones, Neil Diamond, Louis Armstrong, Nat King Cole and Natalie Cole.

Picture of everyday life “On a cruise, I get ready for performances (takes 1.5 hours), perform and chat with the audience. At home, I lay low and relax.”

Layers of paint beneath success “I started as a ventriloquist, and one my dummies did an Elvis impression. An agent said it sounded close to Elvis, so I created a full-blown Elvis act.”


Jodi Maxfield

Age 56 • Midvale

Stroke of genius Jodi has been coaching the Cougarettes since 1991 and has won 12 national titles, but what really gets her moving as artistic director of BYU’s dance team is being with the dancers. “They make me a better person,” she says. Jodi regularly receives emails and letters complimenting the Cougarettes’ kindness and positive examples. In fact, the award that means the most to Jodi was when the Cougarettes won “most friendly” at a dance competition in Prague. Jodi’s stroke of genius also includes her attention to detail. “Ask my dancers — I hardly miss anything!”

Picture of every day life “Busy, crazy, hectic, full!”

Add color to 2014

“Find more time to relax and enjoy the journey.”


Jess Smart Smiley

Age 31 • Provo

Stroke of genius As an illustrator and author, Jess is inspired by classical art, handmade items, comic books and retro graphics. That came in handy when his name was drawn out of a hat to paint murals along Provo River Trail. “I painted fish that show up in the river, five people on a long board, my wife is there riding a bike, and I put my friends’ faces to show it’s a community thing,” he says. Jess considers the trail murals a highlight of his career, along with three children’s books he has authored. He’s also filled 60 sketchbooks. “Paper is my playground,” he says. “I do lots of playing on the playground.”

Picture of every day life “My days are filled with squares: sketchbook, favorite chair, computer screen, front room, stack of books. And my two kids’ handprints all over those squares!”


Isaac Dial Age

33 • Orem

Stroke of genius Native American jewelry is Isaac Dial’s blood — and his heart. At 25, he began studying under his father and he’s proud to carry on the tradition as a third-generation artist. Isaac’s pieces took first place in 2009 and 2012 at the Santa Fe Indian Market. His jewelry has also been shown at the Smithsonian, Parrish Arts Museum in New York and Autry Museum in LA.

Picture of everyday life “I wake up, say prayers, read scriptures, answer emails and follow up on commissioned pieces. I begin manual fabrication, go to the gym and work into the evening. My night ends with reading and social media to find inspiration in architecture, art and sculptural artists.”

Add color to 2014 “Creating leather goods like totes, purses and duffle bags. Find a balance between metals arts and leather. Explore painting.”

Layers of paint beneath success “Early in my career with no formal training, I was self conscious of my skill and design. I picked the brains of artists I admire and I’ve learned to challenge myself and appreciate failures.”


From left to right, Ben Tasso, Leialoha Pakalani and Vern Scott. (Photo by Instudio/Kenneth Linge)
From left to right, Ben Tasso, Leialoha Pakalani and Vern Scott. (Photo by Instudio/Kenneth Linge)

Leialoha Pakalani

Age 43 • Lehi

Stroke of genius Occasionally, Leialoha will be distracted by divine “pho” noodle soup or a shoe sale, but for the most part her days are full, “phat” and fabulous as Major Gifts Director for BYU Law School. “I seize each day 110 percent with as little regret, procrastination or excuses as possible,” she says.

Picture of everyday life “My days start at 3:47 a.m. and are filled with life as a happy wife, helicopter mom and focused philanthropy and development officer. Sleep is overrated.”

Add color to 2014 “Finish a manuscript, welcome home twin daughters in December from missions in Korea, tango on my 44th birthday in the City Creek fire-and-ice courtyard, and take a foodgawking vacation.”

Layers of paint beneath success

“Embarrassing failures, financial losses, illnesses, death of spouse and children, tremendous personal hardship and humbling mistakes don’t define me, but they have changed my heart, mind, relationships and purposes.


Picture of every day life “My days are filled with squares: sketchbook, favorite chair, computer screen, front room, stack of books. And my two kids’ handprints all over those squares!”


Ben Tasso

Age 10 • Alpine

Stroke of genius Ben sprained his ankle before his elite soccer team took the field for the Vegas Cup, but this fourth-grader played through the pain. As an up-and-coming phenom, Ben knows how to go after goals and not give up. As a leftie he promised himself he’d take 100 shots on his right foot every day for two years. One year and two months down.

Picture of everyday life “I play both indoor and outdoor soccer. Outdoor is better. I also play the piano and go to scouts.”

Layers of paint beneath success “It was really hard when my brother left for his mission.”


Vern Scott

Age 94 • Lehi

Stroke of Genius

At 94, Vern works out five days a week (2-mile walk, 400 meter swim, weight training).

Picture of everyday life

“In summer I have an awful lot of work in the garden and with my fruit trees. I get up early and exercise. Then I get things done at home.”

Add color to 2014

“Competing in the Huntsman Senior Games where I’ve won over 50 medals.” (He admits to having very few competitors in his age group.)

Layers of paint beneath success

“I’m awful shy. I force myself to be friendly. Working in the church has made that a lot easier.”


From left to right, Todd Hansen, Jessica Egbert and Wendy Osborne. Alisha Merrill is in front. (Photo by Instudio/Kenneth Linge)
From left to right, Todd Hansen, Jessica Egbert and Wendy Osborne. Alisha Merrill is in front. (Photo by Instudio/Kenneth Linge)

Todd Hansen

Age 46 • Highland

Stroke of genius Now in his fourth year of hosting BYUtv’s “The Story Trek,” Todd travels the country knocking on doors and pulling stories out of anything or anyone. “Everybody thinks they are boring, but lives are meaningful,” says Todd, who began in TV news but felt uninspired and left the industry. Ten years later, he heard BYUtv was looking for programming. “It’s been an amazing ride for a guy who was finished with TV,” Todd says. With a wife, four daughters and a TV career under his belt, Todd certainly has his own story.

Picture of everyday life “It varies — could be preparing a speech for 5,000 or planning budgets.”

Layers of paint behind success “I was a painfully shy kid; I went on a mission and then got into broadcasting.”


Jessica Egbert

Age 35 • Springville

Stoke of genius For more than 12 years, Jessica’s professional home has been with Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions where she has helped create the graduate academic institution. She also donned the robes herself this past year as she earned her Ph.D. She’s a well-known face in the community as she is the board chair of American Red Cross Mountain Valley Chapter and on the board of directors for Utah Valley Chamber of Commerce (hence, the scissors).

Picture of everyday life “Work, community service, laughing with friends and family, whining in a hot yoga class.”

Add color to 2014 “Dan and I are hoping to adopt a baby this year. We also love exploring local restaurants and road trips.”

Layers of paint behind success “Growing up the child of a US Air Force officer made me a people-observer.”


Alisha Merrill

Age 27 • Provo

Stroke of genius Economic downturn. No business education. Single mom. Alisha had three strikes against her, but still started Bella Ella in 2010 and now has seven locations (five in Utah Valley).

Picture of everyday life

“I start with pink! Mommy duties are first, followed by inventory management, photo shoots, meetings, store visits. Evening is family time followed by researching and ordering product.”

Add color to 2014

“Open three more Bella Ella locations with one in California.”

Layers of paint beneath success

“When I became a single mom, I dug my heels in and got to work. By recycling furniture for store displays and putting an apparel order on credit, I opened my first boutique in Lehi.”


Wendy Osborne

Age 43 • Spanish Fork

Stroke of genius Inspired by the Biblical story of Tabitha, Wendy quit her sales job to start Tabitha’s Way — a Christian organization in Spanish Fork providing families with food, clothes and hygiene products.

Picture of everyday life “I get up at 6 and spend time in prayer and meditation. Then paperwork and Tabitha’s by 9. We prep and open doors at 10. By 6:30 I’m off to kids’ ball games. If we have time, we watch ‘Castle’ together. It’s so funny.”

Layers of paint beneath success “It’s hard to get a non-profit going, but I could see God’s hand. Women near Price were closing a community closet because they were losing their space. We continued their work and it put us on our path, too.”


From left to right, Dayan Bernal, Joe Evans, Mark Philbrick and Jason Mertlich. (Photo by Instudio/Kenneth Linge)
From left to right, Dayan Bernal, Joe Evans, Mark Philbrick and Jason Mertlich. (Photo by Instudio/Kenneth Linge)

Joe Evans

Age 47 • Pleasant Grove

Stroke of genius Joe might be best known for what he didn’t do. As the backup quarterback to Ty Detmer at BYU, Joe became known as “Just Joe.” “Every time Detmer got hit in Cougar Stadium, I was the only one who cheered,” Joe says. Now he cheers for the 40+ teams he has coached the past 20 years, including basketball, softball and baseball. Three years ago he also wrote a doctrinal book called “Encompassing Charity” based on Paul’s biblical definition of charity.

Picture of everyday life “I take the kids to school, work out and go to work at my Allstate Agency. Two or three times a week, I have lunch with my wife, Shauna. We met at the Holiday Bowl when I stepped on her foot in the elevator.”

Layers of paint behind success “My mission and marriage are the best decisions of my life. Shauna has her fourth cookbook coming out in June. My biggest battle is staying in shape while being her guinea pig.”


Jason Mertlich

Age 40 • Lehi

Stroke of genius Jason was training for competitive weight lifting when a jiu jitsu class changed his life. “This little 150-pound guy had me crying like a baby!” says Jason, now a black belt in jiu jitsu. Even though Jason is recognized as a top UFC coach, he’s never taken a fight himself and believes the purpose of martial arts is helping others. Jason gives a portion of his proceeds to dog euthanasia.

Picture of everyday life

“Wake up, wrestle with my son, make him breakfast and turn on Sponge Bob, watch MMA fights and break down film, video production, gym, train professional and amateur fighters, teach evening classes, come home and eat with my beautiful wife, go to bed, watch more video.”

Add color to 2014

“Going global with my company Four7 Training.”

Layers of paint beneath success

“My wife, Shar, and son, Roman, inspire me. My mother and grandfather encouraged all my adventures. I wouldn’t be where I am without guidance of God.”


Dayan Bernal

Age 28 • Provo

Stroke of genius Dayan was the first in her family to graduate from college. Now she empowers students to reach their own potential through Teens ACT, a 7-year-old organization that helps students on the brink of dropping out of high school to switch gears and prepare for the ACT. She sees herself as a “peaceful defender for at-risk teens by helping school and community leaders see that our students can succeed.”

Add color to 2014 “Help 50 new students prepare for college.”

Layers of paint behind success “My Latin heritage (Bolivia). My difficult circumstances. My belief that God wants each person to reach her potential.”


Mark Philbrick

Age 60 • Orem

Stroke of genius

Mark has documented nearly every fabulous frame of BYU’s history in the past 37 years. He has been named Photographer of the Year by the University Photographer’s Association of America seven times.

Picture of everyday life

“It’s not 8-to-5. You get there when you need to get there and stay longer than you thought. In one day, I might be in the lab, off to a presidential luncheon, to a press release illustration and to an athletic event.”

Layers of paint beneath success

“I’ve been around prophets and kings and queens and prime ministers. My role isn’t to interfere with history, but to capture it.”


(Photo by Instudio/Kenneth Linge)
From left to right, Scott Hammond, Maria Carr and Brad Wilcox. (Photo by Instudio/Kenneth Linge)

Scott Hammond, Ph.D.

Age 59 • Provo

Stroke of genius Scott has found his life’s work in the lost. He is the author of “Lessons of the Lost: Finding Hope and Resilience in Work, Life and the Wilderness.” He teaches in the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business for USU, and about 10 times per year his puts his red pen down and loads Dusty in the car to head out as a volunteer with Rocky Mountain Rescue Dogs.

Add color to 2014 “I’ve identified shipwreck survival stories from Vancouver Island that I’ll research, re-enact and write about. I plan to ride my bike across Utah from east to west. But the best moment will come after a long day of radio chatter, when a mother of a child who was lost hugs me like a hero.”

Layers behind success “My grandmother gave me the gift of story. My parents gave me the gift of adventure, taking us to 30 countries before I was 7. My wife, Barbie, gave me the gift of security, love and support.”


Brad Wilcox

Age 54 • Provo

Stroke of genius Although the LDS community has hung onto Brad’s pages and speeches for decades, his first national title comes out this spring called “The 7-Day Christian.” Brad has lived his title by serving on the Sunday School General Board for the LDS Church, speaking at EFY since 1985, and even stepping up to the unenviable challenge of teaching fifth-grade maturation clinics throughout Utah Valley.

Picture of everyday life “Teaching BYU students, teaching children, teaching youth, teaching teachers, teaching adults.”

Add color to 2014 “Speak at Women’s Conference, welcome my daughter home from her mission to Spain (the first thing she wants to do is eat at Los Hermanos), lead a tour to Israel in June, and speak at an international youth conference in Sweden in July.”

Maria Carr

Age 58 • Orem

Stroke of genius Maria and her family fled Cuba and settled in Florida. After joining the LDS Church, she made her way to Utah. Maria’s bilingual skills lead to appearances in commercials and films as well as voicework. She’s a champion for the Latin community.

Picture of everyday life “I love juggling multi-colored days. I’ll fit in auditions and also spend time bookkeeping at my husband’s chiropractic office. Then Zumba — I love the Latin beat — and time with grandchildren. If I have time to myself, I make jewelry.”

Layers of paint beneath success “I miss Cuba. I’m the oldest of 3 sisters and feel responsible to keep my parents’ legacy alive. I blog about things I remember — games, songs, my mom’s recipes.”


From left to right, Mari Turner, Maddy Talbert and John W. (Jack) Welch. (Photo by Instudio/Kenneth Linge)
From left to right, Mari Turner, Maddy Talbert and John W. (Jack) Welch. (Photo by Instudio/Kenneth Linge)

Mari Turner

Age 50 • Pleasant Grove

Stroke of Genius As producer of the Sundance Summer Theater and programming manager of popular events like the Bluebird Cafe Concert Series, Mari’s footprints have been all over Sundance for 20 years.

Picture of everyday life “Breakfast cooked by my husband (egg scrambler with veggies and cheese) before heading to Sundance. Most evenings include exercise — spin class, ride cruiser bike with my sister, walk my dog Dewey — then chocolate and reading before lights out at 11 p.m. On my nightstand right now is ‘Command & Control’ by Eric Schlosser, who is part of our Sundance 2014 Author Series.”

Add color to 2014 “Be more open to adventures and opportunities. I want to travel to one new place — seeing the Eiffel Tower lit up at night is at the top of my list.”

Layers of paint beneath success “I have had dark times and they make me appreciate the sunny side of life.”


John W. (Jack) Welch

Age 67 • Provo

Stroke of genius Jack paints the town with black and red ink. He authored, edited or contributed significantly to every book in the stack. He’s the long-time editor-in-chief of BYU Studies and a professor at BYU Law School.

Picture of everyday life “It’s a spectrum of interesting lectures, classes and submissions. Each day is different. I have no idea what is going to come in as far as scholarly writings. I meet with our editorial staff and my colleagues. It’s a full array. I also write every day, even if it’s not a lot. I’m sharpest first thing in the morning, but I also think about what I’m working on in the evening.”

Picture of perfect day “I would be with my wife, Jeannie, in museums in Paris. She’s a French teacher. We paint the town and the Louvre paints the world.”


Maddy Talbert

Age 53 • Spanish Fork

Stroke of genius Maddy is in her 25th year as a social worker, 28th year as a mother, 32nd year married to her best friend. “I’m an eternal optimist — it bugs some people,” she says. Maddy helps her daughter with “Miss Teen Extraordinaire” for special needs girls in the Nebo district. The fourth annual pageant will be March 25th at Spanish Fork High.

Picture of every day life “After Zumba, I head to work as the director of Wasatch House, which helps those suffering from mental illness. My team of 12 social workers helps up to 90 clients per day get their lives back through education, employment, relationships and hope. In the evenings, I fund-raise for ‘Hand in Hand Outdoors,’ which takes veterans on fishing trips on boats that accommodate wheelchairs.”

Add color to 2014 “Get in shape, go on a cruise, travel to Ireland, be a better person.”


From left to right, Mimi Knowles, Jeremy Cottle and Adam Terry. (Photo by Instudio/Kenneth Linge)
From left to right, Mimi Knowles, Jeremy Cottle and Adam Terry. (Photo by Instudio/Kenneth Linge)

Jeremy Cottle

Age 41 • Spanish Fork

Stroke of genius In Jeremy’s previous career as regional director of operations for a hospital corporation, he spent most of his time on the road. After reading a story to his daughter over the phone, she said, “Why can’t you be home like other dads?” Jeremy came back to Utah in 2011 and opened Provo Canyon Behavioral Hospital in Orem. “There was a lack of available mental health services in Utah County,” he says. “When someone is struggling, it’s important they find treatment quickly. I love giving people hope.”

Picture of everyday life “My day begins at 5:30 am. I play racquetball, run or bicycle. At the hospital, every day is different. When I pull into the garage at night, I have several children running to meet me and relate their day’s adventures.”

Add color to 2014 “I have taken up cycling and I plan to do three 100-mile rides.”

Layers of the paint beneath success “I am happy to be back in Utah County with my family and investing in the community I know and love.”


Adam Terry

Age 31 • Orem

Stroke of genius Adam’s Waffle Love introduced the valley to Leige waffles and launched a food truck trend in the process. But it hasn’t always been peaches and cream for Adam. When he started, he was living in a one-bedroom apartment with his wife and three children and was unable to find employment in banking. “I put everything into starting the waffle truck, and I was determined to make it happen,” he says. Adam’s dream is cooking on high with two busy waffle trucks and a brick-and-mortar waffle house in Provo.

Picture of everyday life “Phone calls, meetings, training employees, dreaming up ideas, wrestling with my boys — if I’m lucky I steal time with my wife before kids sneak into our bed at 2 a.m.”

Add color to 2014 “Give local musicians and artists an opportunity to share in our store.”

Layers of paint beneath the success “I graduated in business during a rough economy. Luckily, I had a support network that lifted me to where I could launch; then the community helped me turn the business into something awesome.”


Mimi Knowles

Age 24 • Provo

Stroke of genius Fresh off winning Velour’s December 2013 Battle of Bands, Mimi Knowles’ sound is described as hip-pop-funk-soul. “There is unique talent in Provo, and I thrive off of its diversity,” says Mimi, who describes Battle of the Bands as “phenomenal.” “We were all rooting for each other. If any of us won, we all won.” Mimi has been singing since his childhood in Maine, and he plays guitar, bass and piano.

Picture of everyday life “Wake up. Gym. Actually wake up. Music. Sleep. Repeat.”

Add color to 2014 “Opening for Boyz II Men, winning the Stadium of Fire music competition, recording an EP and learning the electric slide.”

Layers of paint beneath success “It has taken a lot failure to get to a point where I feel like I’m failing less often.”


From left to right, Stephanie Sobotka, Taylor Oldroyd and Barbara Leavitt. (Photo by Instudio/Kenneth Linge)
From left to right, Stephanie Sobotka, Taylor Oldroyd and Barbara Leavitt. (Photo by Instudio/Kenneth Linge)

Taylor Oldroyd

Age 47 • Provo

Stroke of genius Taylor served with President Bush for 6 years but says his favorite job is working as CEO of Utah County Association of Realtors, where he focuses on public policy and protecting property rights. Taylor is known as the “Energizer Bunny” for smaller, less intrusive government. He’s a former chair of the Utah County Republican Party.

Picture of everyday lifeGreen drink for breakfast, then a good workout and steam room. Working lunch at local restaurant and meetings with elected officials/business leaders. Return calls as I drive. Before kids go to bed, we have traditional daily songs and prayers.”

Add color to your 2014 “This year’s bucket list includes public speaking, riding with law enforcement (in the front seat), paying off master’s degree (finally). Trip plans include Hole in the Rock.”

Layers of paint beneath success “I am a proud mama’s boy, and I call her every day. I love powerful, independent women like my wife and three daughters. Liberals and lovers of big-government should fear my tireless efforts to promote courageous conservatism and limited government.”

Stephanie Sobotka

Age 39 • Highland

Stroke of genius On Jan. 8, 2014, Stephanie was running her daily carpools for her 5 kids: piano, baseball, basketball, tennis, scouts. On Jan. 9, she suffered a major heart attack. On Jan. 10, she underwent open heart bypass surgery. With her family at her side, she’s recovering and learning more about her genetic disposition for heart disease — while also inspiring other thirtysomethings to be aware of their health. “The color red has been added to my 2014,” Stephanie says of the color the American Heart Association highlights with its National Wear Red Day. “Maybe it’s just a coincidence that it’s also the color of our hearts.”

Picture of everyday life “Making lunches in the morning and staying up late with teenagers over a bowl of cereal. I play on a tennis team and enjoy my weekly Institute class.”

Add color to 2014 “Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women in U.S., and I want to be an advocate for heart health and to prompt women to take action to protect their hearts. Even if you’re a yoga-loving, marathon-running workout fiend, your risk isn’t eliminated.”

Barbara Leavitt

Age 57 • Orem

Stroke of genius

Barbara started the Help Me Grow program in Utah County and is now seen as a national leader. As the community impact director of the United Way of Utah County, she builds systems in the community to support families and especially parents in the hardest job in society: “creating healthy, happy, emotionally stable, productive human beings.”

Add color to 2014

“Bring greater feedback through deliberate conversations with parents and caregivers so that we create a more sustainable approach.”

Layers of paint beneath success

“Behaviors modeled by my parents, a missionary experience that taught me the depth of human suffering, my LA neighborhood that showed me the beauty of diversity, watching my late-husband reach out to others, sisterhood that healed my broken heart, a community that teaches me we are much bette


From left to right, Lisa Valentine Clark, Mustapha El Akkari and Susan Madsen. (Photo by Instudio/Kenneth Linge)
From left to right, Lisa Valentine Clark, Mustapha El Akkari and Susan Madsen. (Photo by Instudio/Kenneth Linge)

Mustapha El Akkari

Age 25 • Provo

Stroke of genius Mustapha speaks Arabic and English, but he overseas China as the supply chain manager for Nu Skin. Before moving to Utah, he was the first non-LDS, Muslim to be elected studentbody president of BYU-Hawaii. “Steven Wheelwright (BYU-Hawaii president) and Truman Hunt (Nu Skin CEO) have been mentors to me in every way,” he says. Mustapha hopes to be an influence for good himself as an Arab in a Christian society. “I always ask myself, ‘Did I please God today? Did I pray enough?’”

Layers of paint beneath success “I played for the Lebanon national basketball team. We lost to China by 1 point and missed the Olympics. I was recruited to Houston to finish high school and play ball. I didn’t know a word of English and lived alone. I lost 45 pounds in a couple of months. I would walk 4 miles to a gas station to get a phone card to call my parents. It would work 1 of 5 times. But basketball and education have opened doors. I played in the NCAA for BYU-Hawaii and earned a ring. On Saturdays I play basketball with former BYU and NBA players. I’m emotionally attached to the game.”

Add color to 2014 “Hopefully marriage. Focused on getting into Harvard.”


Lisa Valentine Clark

Age 39 • Provo

Stroke of genius Cover girl Lisa Valentine Clark is also smiling in the UCCU ad on page 4. Her face has graced billboards, Ensign pages and Deseret Book commercials — and she stars in “Pretty Darn Funny,” a web series. “I say yes to opportunities that scare me, and I surround myself with funny, creative, kind people,” she says. Lisa’s family tree is dotted with a brother in Maroon 5, a sister who competed on Project Runway, and sisters-in-law who dominate the blogosphere (nieniedialogues.com and cjanekendrick.com)

Picture of everyday life “Most days I’m doing mom stuff (five kids range from age 6 to almost 16) and some creative project.”

Layers of paint beneath success “I was a founder of Thrillionaires. I love a well-crafted line, but it’s hard for me to stick to a script. I prefer improv. I met my theater husband when we were English majors at BYU — we did a really bad play together. He played Satan and I was a chicken. It’s a tale as old as time.”


Susan Madsen

Age 52 • Highland

Stroke of genius Susan directed the Utah Women and Education project for the state of Utah and is the go-to source when it comes to women in education, leadership, politics and non-profits. A UVU management professor, Susan is co-editor of a book series on women in leadership and has founded four groups on women internationally or locally. “I feel the need to shake things up a little bit,” Susan says. “But only in Utah would I be called liberal.” She’s the mother of four and married to the “wonderful Greg.”

Picture of everyday life “I get up at 3 and go to bed by 9:30 or 10.”

Layers of paint beneath success “I published a book on lifetime leadership development. I interviewed 10 female governors about their childhood, their families, their experiences. I found fascinating themes.”

Advice for women “Women have been gifted with talents and need to step forward — they need to know they can be leaders. My joy comes from seeing women become more confident.”


From left to right, Darcie Warren, Eden Walker and Michelle McCullough. (Photo by Instudio/Kenneth Linge)
From left to right, Darcie Warren, Eden Walker and Michelle McCullough. (Photo by Instudio/Kenneth Linge)

Eden Walker

Age 11 • Orem

Stroke of genius As part of the Young Entrepreneurs Academy (hosted by Utah Valley Chamber of Commerce), Eden and her class partner created a holiday parody video called “What Does the Reindeer Say.” More than 45,000 views later, Eden learned a few lessons the hard way. “You can’t use other people’s karaoke tracks or you don’t earn money,” says the SCERA Park Elementary sixth grader, who actually pocketed $2.80 on the video.

Picture of everyday life “Get out of bed at 7, let my dog Tux outside, school, Young Entrepreneurs Academy.”

Add color to 2014 “Make videos and family-friendly parodies for parents and kids to enjoy together — including a ‘Paint the Town’ video inspired by this Utah Valley Magazine article.”


Darcie Warren

Age 35 • Pleasant Grove

Stroke of genius When the doctor told Darcie she had a genetic predisposition for high blood pressure, this extrovert got busy competing in marathons and triathlons. For the past two years, Darcie has focused on Crossfit (combines weight-lifting, gymnastics, running, pull-ups, bars, etc.) and was the only woman on Crossfit Hyperion’s team at last year’s competition. “I love the intensity of Crossfit and getting a good workout in a short time because I’m a busy mom of six,” says Darcie, who has converted friends and family to Crossfit — her husband joins Crossfit for date nights.

Picture of every day life “Head to the gym for an hour, get kids ready for school, back to the gym with my littlest one, pick up the house, prep for dinner, laundry, possible nap, kids get home and the chaos begins.”

Add color to your 2014 “Compete at CrossFit Open and make it to nationals.”

Layers of paint behind success “I attribute my mental toughness to motherhood.”


Michelle McCullough

Age 34 • Provo

Stroke of genius Michelle’s book “Make it Happen” will be internationally released in late spring, but she already lives the title. As the mother of two, entrepreneur of a handful of companies and a popular motivational speaker, Michelle makes so much happen that her self-selected word of the year is “savor.” “I want to make sure I’m savoring moments with my family and friends but also savoring the wins in my business and book launch,” she says.

Picture of everyday life “Get up before kids and work. Then feed the kids, race to the gym, get the kids off to school. Coaching calls and client meetings. After school, we do homework and dinner. I then work from 8 to midnight.” (See michelleontheair.com.)

Layers of paint behind success “I’ve learned that life will ‘life’ us. Challenges come in different forms and create who we are. Also, one of my layers is happiness. Adages like ‘look on the bright side’ are actually true.”


(Photo by Instudio/Kenneth Linge)
(Photo by Instudio/Kenneth Linge)

Shoe Nelson

Age 56 • Spanish Fork

Stroke of genius Shoe has six state championships as head baseball coach at Spanish Fork High, and now he’s in his 30th — and last — season in the dugout. His father helped build the field that Shoe coaches on, which was named after Shoe in 2011.

Picture of everyday life “I get up at 6 a.m. and get ready to teach English and P.E. After school we have practice or games. Later I prepare practice plans for the next day and watch TV with my wife. If it’s a great day, I spend time with my kids and grandkids.”

Add color to 2014“We’re in the hunt to win the state championship, but it takes more than being good. It takes luck, too.”


Erika Dalton

Age 13 • Cedar Hills

Stroke of genius Erika entered the Miss Utah Pre Teen pageant to get experience playing violin. She ended up with the sash and a top 10 finish at the national pageant. She played the national anthem at the Jazz game earlier this year and will solo in Carnegie Hall in March.

Picture of everyday life “I spend the day at Mountain Ridge Junior High and the afternoons practicing — I’ve been playing violin since age 4. My cousin Meg inspired me to be a musician.”

Add color to 2014“Keep working on my charity ‘Golden Harmony’ where I play violin for seniors.”

Layers of paint beneath success “We lived in Japan where we saw many people lose not only things but also their lives during earthquakes and tsunamis. I learned to appreciate my life and to work harder.”


Rae Ann Nilson

Age 59 • Highland

Stroke of genius Rae Ann and her husband started National Security Safe Company in 1985, and she was known as their “secret weapon.” They sold it in 1997 and she sold herself on charity work. Twelve years ago, she started Shadow Light Foundation “to work in the shadows while bringing light to others.” She provides Christmas for up to 400 families annually and each school year she fills dozens of supply-filled backpacks for Utah Valley students in need.

Picture of everyday life Quilting, family history, serving, preparing wonderful food for family and friends. “Having been raised in the South, I learned the true meaning of southern hospitality.”

Personal motto “To search out those who are suffering or in need, rather than waiting for them to have to ask for help.”

Layers of paint beneath success “Even as a child my concern was in making sure my brothers were comfortable on our long trips from Texas to Utah.”


Sam Farnsworth

Age 37 • Orem

Stroke of genius More than 100,000 have ridden the Stringtown Railroad, which choo-choos over 1.5 miles through six properties in Lindon. Sam’s extended family operates the free train rides but takes donations and has given thousands to Primary Children’s Hospital, Red Cross and the LDS Missionary Fund. Sam’s other “hats” include father of five, technology appointee for the Utah PTA, and Wood Badge course director for the Boy Scouts.

Picture of everyday life “I’m a web developer, but I also travel all over Utah and Idaho teaching Internet safety.”

Best tip for parents “It’s not about technology. It’s about communication.”

Add color to 2014 “I’m going back to BYU to finish my degree in computer science. I’m also going to take my kids – ages 13 to 4 — canyoneering.”


Get more on our Fab 40 with our online extras where they paint a picture of their perfect day and let us know what is so boring that it is worse than watching paint dry. Also, be sure to check out the behind-the-scenes photos that didn’t quite make the cut.

See the entire March/April issue of Utah Valley Magazine here.

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