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Women Leaders Honored at Sundance Film Festival Event

Actress Blythe Danner Headlines

Kallee Feuz | Photos courtesy of Zions Bank Mar 15, 2019
group of nine women standing together
Honorees Julie Castle, Barbara Annis, Keri Putnam, Mary Pat Thompston, The Right Rev. Carolyn Tanner Irish, and sisters Katie, Lisa and Hope Eccles with special guest actor Blythe Danner (third from left) were recognized on Jan. 31 at the Sundance Institute Women's Leadership Celebration.

Emmy- and Tony-award-winning actress Blythe Danner joined Zions Bank President and CEO Scott Anderson to honor nine women leaders at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival Women’s Leadership Celebration. This is the sixth year that Zions Bank and Sundance Institute have hosted the event, held Jan. 31 at The Leonardo in Salt Lake City.

“What makes this group of women really remarkable is that they’re out doing great things,” Anderson said at the event. “They’re using their hard-won clout to change the world.”

During the awards lunch, Danner engaged in a moderated discussion with filmmaker and actress Amy Redford, sharing highlights of her decades-long career spanning theater, television and film.

“I’ve always been a chameleon, and I’ve never quite known who I am. It lends itself to more ease in creating so many different kinds of characters,” said Danner, who co-stars in the 2019 Sundance film, “The Tomorrow Man.”

Despite a prolific acting resume, Danner’s first lead film role came at age 72, in the 2015 Sundance selection “I’ll See You in My Dreams.”

“I didn’t think I would have the energy or the stamina, but it was such a challenge and it was such a wonderful experience. I guess I’m not too old after all,” Danner said of that role. “I look at all the women who are playing fantastic roles even above my age. There’s a plethora of wonderful roles out there.”

The Women’s Leadership Celebration’s nine honorees were recognized for their leadership in fields from business and government to philanthropy and the arts.

Barbara Annis, CEO of Gender Intelligence Group

Barbara Annis began her career as the first woman in sales at Sony, and eventually, the first woman sales manager. For the past 30 years as CEO of Gender Intelligence Group, she has advocated for gender, diversity and inclusive leadership in Fortune 500 companies and organizations worldwide. Her insights and achievements pioneered a transformational shift in cultural attitudes across the globe on the importance of gender unity to organizational success. Annis is chair emeritus and a current member of the Women’s Leadership Board at Harvard Kennedy School and was recently conferred the International Alliance for Women Lifetime Achievement Award.

Julie Castle, CEO of Best Friends Animal Society

Recognized as a leader and voice of the national no-kill movement, Julie Castle took the reins of Best Friends Animal Society in 2018 after more than two decades with the organization. She was the 17th employee hired at Best Friends and subsequently served as director of community programs and services, chief of marketing and communications, and chief of marketing, communications and development. In her tenure at Best Friends, Castle has been instrumental in bringing together multiple organizations and municipalities to tackle a shared social problem — the killing of dogs and cats in shelters. She is leading a bold, coalition-driven campaign to make the entire country no-kill by the year 2025.

Hope Eccles, President of the Goldener Hirsch Inn

Hope Eccles’ long-standing commitment to education and educational reform includes serving as a former member of the University of Utah Board of Trustees and as deputy director for higher education for former Utah Gov. Jon M. Huntsman Jr. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Stanford University, a law degree from the University of Utah, and an MBA from Columbia University. She currently co-chairs Envision Utah’s My Education, Our Future committee, and is a member of the University of Utah Hospital Board, Stanford University’s Bill Lane Center for the American West, the Marriner S. Eccles Foundation, and the Spencer F. and Cleone P. Eccles Family Foundation. She is also involved with other Eccles family businesses, including the Cynosure Group and Goldener Hirsch Inn at Deer Valley.

Katie Eccles, Partner and Of Counsel Attorney at Ray Quinney & Nebeker

After receiving undergraduate and law degrees from Stanford, Katie Eccles clerked on the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals for Stephen H. Anderson before beginning her law career at Ray Quinney & Nebeker. Eccles currently serves on the Board of Trustees Executive Committee at the University of Utah and as a director of the Nora Eccles Treadwell Foundation, the Spencer F. and Cleone P. Eccles Family Foundation, and the Eccles family-owned Goldener Hirsch Inn. In 2015, she received the American Cancer Society’s Sword of Hope Award for her service as chair of the Hope Lodge Board and its efforts to fund, design and construct the Salt Lake City Hope Lodge, which provides free lodging for cancer patients during treatment.

Lisa Eccles, President and COO of the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation

Directing the operations of one of Utah’s largest private philanthropic foundations, Lisa Eccles has worked with nonprofits throughout the state, awarding more than $600 million in grants since 1989. Eccles graduated in art history from the University of Utah and has played an active role at her alma mater as a former member of its board of trustees, chairing its Campus Master Plan Committee. She currently serves as a member of the University’s National Advisory Council, and the Steering Committee for the U’s capital campaign. She is also a director of the Spencer F. and Cleone P. Eccles Family Foundation and the Eccles family-owned Goldener Hirsch Inn.

group of six people standing together
Spence Eccles joins Blythe Danner and Scott Anderson in congratulating his daughters, Hope, Lisa and Katie Eccles.

The Right Rev. Carolyn Tanner Irish, Retired Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Utah

As the former 10th bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Utah, the Rt. Rev. Carolyn Tanner Irish was the first woman leader of a major religious denomination in the state. In her tenure as bishop of Utah from 1995-2010, she established a reputation as a community leader, bringing together people of many backgrounds and faiths. Irish is chair of the board of O.C. Tanner Company, the employee recognition company founded by her father. She serves on the Dean’s Council of the Washington National Cathedral, as well as on the boards of directors of the Tanner Lectures on Human Values and the Nature Conservancy of Utah.

Rep. Karen Kwan, Utah State Lawmaker

Rep. Karen Kwan was elected to the Utah Legislature in 2016 to represent residents of Taylorsville, Murray, West Valley City and Millcreek. She is the House Minority Caucus Manager and the first Chinese-American lawmaker in the Utah Legislature. Kwan has a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s degree in clinical psychology, both from Pepperdine University. She is an associate professor of psychology at Salt Lake Community College, where she was named the SLCC 2014 Distinguished Faculty Lecturer. A founding member and past chair for OCA Utah Asian Pacific American Advocates, she is also an adviser for the Chinese Railroad Workers Descendants Association and is a Spike 150 commissioner for the upcoming anniversary marking the completion of the transcontinental railroad.

Keri Putnam, Executive Director of Sundance Institute

As executive director of Sundance Institute, Putnam oversees the annual Sundance Film Festival, as well as the Sundance Institute labs, grants, mentorships, smaller festivals, public events and workshops offered year-round and globally. Before joining the Institute, she served as president of production for Miramax Films. During her tenure, Miramax Films won and was nominated for multiple Academy Awards, including the Best Picture Academy Award for the Coen Brothers’ “No Country for Old Men.” Prior to joining Miramax in 2006, Putnam was executive vice president of HBO Films. A graduate of Harvard College, Putnam is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and serves on the board of Women in Film Los Angeles.

Mary Pat Thompson, Idaho Business Leader and Zions Bank Advisory Board Member

Mary Pat Thompson served until October 2018 as senior vice president of finance for MWI Animal Health, a $3.6 billion global distributor of animal health products. Thompson served as MWI’s CFO from 2002 to 2015, leading the company’s successful IPO in 2005 at $17 per share and overseeing an 11-fold increase in price to $190 per share. During her tenure as CFO, she led 13 acquisitions totaling $962 million in revenue. She was twice honored for women’s leadership in animal health and was a founding board member for a women’s leadership group to elevate women in her industry. She is a member of Zions Bank’s advisory board and is chairperson for the Federal Reserve Bank’s 12th District Economic Council.

woman speaking at a podium
During her introduction of honoree Kari Putnam, Pat Mitchell gave kudos to Zions Bank President and CEO Scott Anderson.
crystal awards lined up
The nine honorees were recognized for their leadership in a variety of fields from business and government to philanthropy and the arts.

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