Friday, September 18, 2009

Governors: Olene Smith Walker

Olene Smith Walker was born in Ogden, Utah. She received her bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees from Brigham Young University, Stanford University, and University of Utah, respectively. From 1969 to 1992, Walker served as vice president of Country Crisp Foods, a family business.

Before entering politics, Walker founded the Salt Lake Education Foundation and served as its director. She also served as director of the Utah Division of Community Development. Walker was a representative in the state Legislature for eight years and served a term as majority whip. She was Utah’s first woman to be lieutenant governor and spearheaded many important initiatives including education programs, healthcare reform and workforce development. She led the Healthcare Reform Task Force that established the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), ensuring affordable healthcare for Utah’s children.

When Governor Leavitt resigned to serve as Administrator of the EPA, Walker became the first woman in Utah to be governor. During her term as governor, Walker was committed to funding education, providing affordable housing, and supporting literacy programs.


William “Bill” Ferrin Whitaker, Jr. (1943– ), son of painter William Whitaker, Sr., grew up surrounded by art. He earned his degree from the University of Utah and later taught at Brigham Young University. Whitaker studied under the famous Utah artist Alvin Gittins and is known for his beautiful portraits of Mormon church officials and other prominent people. He also painted Governor Leavitt’s portrait.

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