2022 Conference Speakers
Nubia Peña : Senior Advisor on Equity and Opportunity
Nubia Peña is the senior advisor on equity and opportunity to Governor Cox and the director for the Utah Division of Multicultural Affairs, whose mission is to promote an inclusive climate for Utah's growing diverse community through training, outreach, and youth leadership development. Ms. Peña is immensely grateful for the extensive experience acquired during the past 15 years working as a community organizer, advocate, and ally for systematically marginalized populations. She has the great opportunity to facilitate dialogues amongst local and national leaders on complex topics of inclusion and racial justice working to create equitable access in services and resources for historically disenfranchised communities. Ms. Peña also designs and implements various workshops on creating culturally relevant and gender-specific programming, specifically when working with youth and adolescents.
Ms. Peña is a proud former member of the zealous team at the Utah Juvenile Defender Attorneys, where she advocated for youth rights during detention and delinquency proceedings. She is certified by the National Juvenile Defender Center as a Juvenile Training Immersion Program facilitator. In addition, Ms. Peña is a national consultant dedicated to bringing awareness to intersections of trauma and the School-to-Prison Pipeline, an epidemic that targets our most vulnerable youth by streamlining them into the juvenile justice system. She also serves as adjunct faculty at the University of Utah’s S.J. Quinney College of Law.
Ms. Peña has actively sought to bring awareness to issues of violence and systemic oppression through her professional endeavors and personal faith-based initiatives. She has a decade of experience assisting survivors of domestic abuse, sexual assault, human trafficking, and violent crimes as a law enforcement victim advocate. Since 2007, she has served as the training and prevention education specialist at the Utah Coalition Against Sexual Assault (UCASA), where she developed trainings on youth advocacy for trafficked survivors, social justice in prevention efforts, and sexual harassment in the #MeToo era.
Ms. Peña received her Juris Doctorate from the University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law in May 2016. During that year, she was selected as one of 25 law students in the nation to be recognized and highlighted for her social justice activism in the National Jurist, a leading news source in legal education. She was also selected as the recipient of the National Juvenile Justice Network 2019 Emerging Leader Award due to her longstanding commitment to youth rights, empowerment, and leadership development. She was named in Utah Business Magazine’s 2020 40 Under 40 award recipients, recognized among the 2020 Heroes for Utah Philanthropy Day, and selected as one of Sundance Film Festival 2021 Women’s Leadership Celebration honorees.
Lisa Argyle: Assistant Professor of Political Science, Brigham Young University
Dr. Lisa P. Argyle is an assistant professor of political science at Brigham Young University and a faculty fellow at the Center for the Study of Elections and Democracy. She earned a Ph.D. in political science from the University of California, Santa Barbara, in 2016. Dr. Argyle studies American politics, using approaches from political psychology, public opinion, and computational social science. Her main area of research focuses on understanding how and why people have political conversations with each other in the course of their everyday lives. She is particularly interested in exploring the relationship between political conversations and rising political polarization and incivility. Dr. Argyle and her husband live in Provo, UT, with their three children.
Workshop Speakers and Panelists
Arlene Anderson: Ogden School Board Member
Arlene Zisumbo Anderson is a long-time resident of Ogden City. She attended Weber State University and received a bachelor’s degree in respiratory therapy with a minor in child and family studies. She began as a clinician in respiratory therapy, which allowed her to transform her career into her current role as a clinical informatics portfolio manager working in the healthcare IT industry. She also has a master’s degree in business administration.
Arlene has volunteered on many local committees to promote civic engagement and health and education issues related to disparities for ethnic populations. She is passionate about education and advocating for those who feel they do not have a voice. She was a member of Ogden’s multicultural COVID-19 healthcare task force and has volunteered with programs helping community members prepare for a path toward citizenship. Arlene also served on her city’s citizens advisory committee and strategic planning advisory committee. She was previously on the Hispanic/Latino advisory council for the state of Utah.
Arlene believes in our children and their potential for obtaining higher education. She is an adjunct professor at Weber State University teaching career paths in healthcare to high school students. She is a true believer of the “si se puede” motto to encourage ALL children to graduate from high school and pursue their aspirations. She is bilingual in Spanish and is committed to reaching a wider audience and expanding engagement and representation within the Ogden school board, the Ogden City School District, and the community at large.
Kristin Andrus : Community Advocate and Organizer
Kristin Andrus is a community champion who advocates for women, children, and refugees within and beyond Utah. She is also "chief culture officer" to her husband and six children. Kristin serves as a board member for the Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Intermountain Area and for UnDEfeated, an organization serving underprivileged youth and single mothers in Uganda. In addition, she holds advisory roles with the First Lady of Utah, Neighborhood House, The Younique Foundation, Utah Valley University, and Women Who Succeed. Nonprofits count on Kristin for her social media and marketing savvy as well as her supernatural ability to get stuff done. With over 100,000 combined followers on social media, and live cooking segments on Utah’s Studio 5, Kristin has built a platform for awareness and impact. Her musings on marriage and motherhood and her collection of 250 free home workouts offer love, light, and laughter for her social media community.
In November 2020, Kristin launched #SisterGoods, an Instagram campaign that raised $30,000 in its first week to supply menstrual care products to schools, shelters, and foster care facilities throughout Utah. #SisterGoods has since spread to more than 60 communities across the U.S. Kristin is currently leading the charge of the Utah Period Project bill this upcoming legislative session ensuring free period products are supplied in all public and charter school bathrooms.
Melinda W. Brown: Author, Philanthropist
Melinda Wheelwright Brown is the author of "Eve & Adam: Discovering the Beautiful Balance," which grew out of her passion for solving problems, particularly those faced by women. Prior to its release, she spent several years studying, researching, and praying about Eve, the fall, the need for mortal experiences, and our Heavenly Parents' love for their daughters and sons. When she's not at her desk, she's often supporting great organizations working to lift and support women, such as Fight the New Drug, Days for Girls, Big Ocean Women, Faith Matters, and the Elizabeth Smart Foundation, whose board she currently serves on. She also enjoys co-managing her extended family's charitable foundation.
She earned a bachelor's degree in economics from Brigham Young University and hopes to begin work on a master's degree in Biblical studies in the fall. Mindy and her husband, Doug, are the parents of four children and have three darling grandsons. Her very happiest day would be spent with all of them, exploring their favorite South Carolina beach together searching for sand dollars. Join her and the Brave community sharing encouragement and inspiration @brave.like.eve.
Meredith Gardner: Director of Media Literacy
Meredith Gardner serves as the media literacy director for Mormon Women for Ethical Government. She graduated with her bachelor’s degree in news-editorial journalism from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and has experience working as a full-time newspaper reporter, editor, and freelance writer. She has a passion for helping people gain news literacy skills and believes Russell M. Nelson’s philosophy that “good inspiration is based upon good information.” She is also an American Association of Suicidology-accredited crisis worker and worked for seven years at a national crisis and suicide prevention hotline. Meredith currently lives in central Texas with her husband and five children.
Gina Hales: LCSW, School Board Member
Gina Hales is a licensed clinical social worker with a focus on youth, children, and families. She currently serves on the Provo City School Board, where she sits on the PTA Executive Board, DEI Community Council, Interagency Committee, Sexual Education Curriculum Review Committee, and the PEA Liaison Committee. Gina has a passion for working with individuals and communities who have traditionally been underrepresented and underserved, and she is also passionate about increasing transparency in the district.
Gina attended Brigham Young University, where she earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in social work. Gina earned her PhD in educational leadership and foundations in 2017 and currently contracts with a local company to provide training to educators about how to teach students the skills of resilience. Gina has been married to Paul Hales for 10 years, and they have one daughter, Kahealani, and a 4-year-old Boston terrier named Lola.
Julie King: School Board Member
Julie King was elected to serve on the Alpine School District Board of Education in 2018. She is the mother of four children and a fierce advocate for learning in all its forms to meet the individual needs of each child. Julie graduated from BYU in 1997 with a degree in family sciences with an emphasis in human development. She has worked as a social worker, specializing in children who have suffered abuse and neglect or experienced domestic violence. Julie and her husband have previously been foster parents, and she has a special place in her heart for children aging out of care.
She is a strong advocate for dual language immersion, Advanced Learning Lab, and supports for students with disabilities.
Julie has served on multiple PTA boards, has been PTA president at Riverview Elementary, and was president of the Westlake PTA Council. She has served on SCC for several schools and was appointed to serve on the Alpine District Community Council. She was appointed by the Utah State Board of Education to serve on the Student Data Privacy Advisory Group. In 2012, she was honored to be named the Parenting Magazine Mom Congress Utah Delegate. In 1999, she was the Utah County Child Advocate of the Year.
Happy to call herself a nerd, Julie loves history and travel and is an avid reader. She is also a published author.
Michelle Love-Day: Educator and Consultant
Michelle Love-Day has been an educator for 20 years. She received her bachelor's in education (K-8, Minor In Spanish) and master's in reading (K-12) from Bowling Green State University (Ohio), plus a master's in education, leadership, and policy from the University of Utah. Her second language is Spanish and she studied abroad in Alcala, Spain. She taught in North Carolina for three years before relocating to Utah in 2005. She has been a second grade teacher, literacy coach, principal, and associate director of educational equity. In March 2020 she began as consultant for Jordan School District in the Language and Cultures Services, Teaching and Learning Department.
Her style of hands-on learning, encouragement, and realness has helped students to overcome their barriers to success. Michelle has worked with teachers to inspire and establish great reading practices in the classroom. Through her company, Love-Day Educational Consulting, she helps parents work with schools, advocate for their children, and assist in creating a rich diverse literacy environment at home and in school. As she began to see the need for Black students in Utah, she created an online, weekly school called RISE Virtual Academy in August 2020.
Mrs. Love-Day serves on many boards, including the Hale Centre Theater Board of Trustees, the Access to Justice Commission, and the Conviction Integrity Board. She enjoys acting on stage and in commercials. She is also an active member of Delta Sigma Theta, INC. and plays an active role in the community.
She is passionate about schools being student focused, equitable, and a place where all students feel they are welcome and have an adult they can believe in and who believes in them. In 2019, she ran as candidate for Bluffdale City Council and is the proud mother to five children and wife to a supportive husband.
Anna E. Thomas: Senior Policy Analyst, Voices for Utah Children
Anna Thomas is a senior policy analyst with Voices for Utah Children, focusing primarily on early childhood care and education, as well as juvenile justice reform. Before joining Voices in 2017, Anna spent nearly a decade with the ACLU of Utah, where she served in a variety of roles, from development and media relations to criminal justice reform advocacy and community outreach. Previously, Anna handled development and communications for Front Range Earth Force, a service-learning nonprofit partnered with public school teachers in Denver, Colorado. She also worked as community organizer for a grassroots environmental justice nonprofit in Northeast Denver and served as an aide to U.S. Representative Diana DeGette of Colorado's First Congressional District.
Anna is a Salt Lake City native, proud to claim West High School as her alma mater. She earned a BA in journalism from the University of Denver and an MPA from the University of Utah.
Katie Wright: Executive Director, Better Boundaries
Katie Wright is a professional in the nonprofit sector with a focus on connecting human and financial capital to challenges such as climate change and democracy reform. As executive director of Better Boundaries, she is charged with advocating for all Utahns in securing an independent redistricting process that centers the needs of voters, not politicians.
From 2008-2021, Katie led Park City Community Foundation as its executive director and its programs director. During that time, the Community Foundation tackled critical issues such as early childhood education, mental wellness, climate change, and equity and inclusion. Under her leadership, the Community Foundation was recognized as one of the nation’s fastest-growing community foundations, greatly expanding its grant making and community investments while also growing total assets under management and an endowment to secure enduring change.
Katie is a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (Morocco 2005-2007) and received a master’s in public administration from Rutgers University and a B.A. from Colorado College. A deep love for nature and winter brought Katie to the mountain west at age 18. She loves to ski, mountain bike, hike, and camp in the mountains and deserts of Utah with her spouse and two children.
Kim Horiuchi: Former Member of the Jordan and Canyons School Boards
Kim Horiuchi is a former member of the Jordan School Board and an inaugural member of the Canyons Board. She was instrumental in the start up of the Canyons District, the first school district to be created in Utah in 100 years. She advocated for its creation as a way to bring a greater voice for constituents into educational decision making. She remains keenly interested in school governance and serves on the board of directors for Raise Your Hand Utah. Kim’s professional background is in journalism. She has worked at every daily newspaper in northern Utah and has a journalism degree from Utah State University. Her daughters are graduates of Hillcrest High School’s International Baccalaureate program.
Hannah Koford Adams: Special Project Manager, Ballard Center for Social Impact
Hannah Koford Adams is graduating from Brigham Young University with an undergraduate degree in communications in April. This fall, she will begin the master of public administration program at BYU. She has worked for the U.S. House of Representatives, Ballard Center for Social Impact, and International Bridges to Justice. Her passion for social impact through public policy is her professional and personal motivation.
Myra Beecher: USUSA Eastern Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion 2022-2023
Myra Beecher is currently a student at Utah State University working on her bachelor's of human development and family studies. She has been married for almost two years to her husband, Kanyon. She enjoys serving everyone but especially has a passion for helping children. She hopes one day to be an elementary school counselor to help children deal with mental health and to fulfill her dream of teaching. Myra recently was elected as the new director of diversity, equity, and inclusion at the Eastern Campus of Utah State University. She enjoys working with the Utah Educational Equity Coalition as an intern, where she has learned about the influence of social media and politics in our world today. She has gained a desire to make changes in her community and loves to advocate for minorities.
Sydney Ward: Student, Brigham Young University
Sydney Ward is currently studying public relations and civic engagement as a student at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. She works as the marketing coordinator for Student Voice and has been involved in their campaigns for youth voice at the national level, fundraising, and measurement efforts since 2020. Passionate about youth civic engagement, Sydney was a youth fellow with Citizen University from 2018 to 2019 and has served as an ambassador to Student Voice and mentor with the Utah legislative group, Girl’s Lobby. She is the founder and former director of Project 320, a Utah-based organization to increase youth connection with local and state representatives. At present, she is serving as an education ambassador for the Partnership for the Future of Learning, writing pieces around civic learning in schools today. She is a big fan of “I Voted” stickers, pastries, and yoga.
Noriadnys Gomez de Bybee: BYU Dreamer Liaison and MWEG Student Intern
Nori was born in Venezuela but was raised in Utah starting at age 4. She is currently in her third year at BYU studying sociology. On campus she co-manages the Undocumented Student Support Services and is a teaching assistant for the sociology of race and ethnicity course. Advocating for herself as a minority and immigrant has been a spiritual experience. She loves learning new things, activism, and sushi.
Hannah Lyons: Student, Brigham Young University
Hannah is a student at BYU in the master of public administration program with an emphasis in nonprofit management. Originally from Canada, she recently received her U.S. citizenship in 2020. She is passionate about building inclusive and compassionate communities. She has worked with a variety of nonprofit organizations analyzing impact data, managing volunteers, fundraising, and building community partners. She is currently building an app with a team of student entrepreneurs to help international organizations bridge the gap between governments and nonprofits.
Kristen Smith Dayley: Executive Director, Their Story Is Our Story
Kristen Smith Dayley is a partner with Scale LLP, practicing in the corporate law arena. She is also the executive director of Their Story Is Our Story (TSOS), an international nonprofit that collects and shares first-hand refugee stories to educate, advocate, and encourage and facilitate integration on behalf of those who are forcibly displaced. Kristen also works with a number of legal nonprofits to provide pro bono representation for those seeking asylum and resettlement in the U.S. She serves as a Sponsor Circle lead in the Seattle area, a new program launched by the State Department at the end of 2020 to allow the private sponsorship of refugee families for the first time since 1980.
Kristen lives in the Seattle area with her husband, four children, and their pandemic-purchase dog.
Christy Bishop: Assistant Director of Advocacy, Their Story Is Our Story
Born in South Africa, Christy immigrated to the U.S. when she was 7 years old, the beginning of many years of international moves required to eventually reach permanent resident status in the U.S. It wasn’t until after she became a naturalized citizen in 2011 that she found her interest in the varying experiences in all types of migration, voluntary or involuntary. She spent two years working with the asylum-seeking population in Phoenix, Arizona, and joined TSOS after supporting their story-gathering trip to Phoenix in 2019. Currently, she serves as assistant director of advocacy at TSOS and is a member of the steering committee of the We Are All America Arizona Coalition. She serves as a volunteer lead at the International Rescue Committee Welcome Center for asylum seekers and participates in Arizona’s annual refugee advocacy events with legislators at the state capitol.
Her “day job” is directing a women’s triathlon that she co-founded with two other women in 2015, and she loves triumphant hugs from women of all shapes, sizes, and abilities at the finish line. Christy enjoys any opportunity to serve in her community, whether it’s collecting supplies for her kids' teachers, taking her family on “trash walks,” or collecting furniture for a new refugee family. She believes no act is too small and our biggest influence comes from lifting where we stand. She calls the beautiful desert of Phoenix home with her husband and three kids, but she dreams of Hawaiian beaches.
Sarah Webb: Assistant Director of Advocacy, Their Story Is Our Story, and Co-Founder, Gathering Humanity, Inc.
Born and raised in Logan, Utah, Sarah is one of 10 children. Growing up, her parents always opened up their home as a refuge for refugees and foreign college students. This provided her with a very diverse childhood and a deep love for refugees, immigrants, and individuals in need. Prior to joining the advocacy team at Their Story Is Our Story last year, Sarah co-founded the nonprofit Gathering Humanity, Inc., in Tempe, Arizona, and served as executive director of operations there for almost five years. Her work with Gathering Humanity and Their Story Is Our Story has given her the amazing opportunity to work closely with the refugee community, asylum seekers, resettlement agencies, and many other humanitarian organizations.
Sarah enjoys any opportunity to serve in the community and advocate for marginalized populations. Arizona has been her home for 22 years, and she lives there with her husband, Chris, and their four boys.