Celebrating Utah Women | Part 3
As a business with many successful, talented and motivated women, Mountain West Cider will be celebrating the power of Utah’s women leaders throughout the month. We will feature successful Utah women who have risen up, and have made a real difference in their fields and in their communities.
Shandra Benito — Executive Director, Art Access
When Shandra Benito was just 18 years old, she started her own small non-profit. Seeing the need for youth in social services to have a fun and memorable summer, Shandra launched a summer program specifically tailored to children who couldn’t afford any other summer programs. This was just one of the moments that laid the groundwork for Shandra, and her unrelenting success in the non-profit world.
Joining Art Access just last year, Shandra is the youngest Executive Director to date, which she takes in with pride. With years of non-profit experience behind her, Shandra is ready to speak out, get people involved, and create programs that are fun, engaging and most importantly inclusive. She believes in getting her hands dirty, and would never ask someone to do something that she wasn’t willing to do herself, including “cleaning rotten milk.” She can take tough moments, and turn them into learning experiences. Taking responsibility is so much more, “a strength, and not a weakness,” she says.
Shandra thinks that it’s an interesting time for feminism, and for women’s leadership. She takes solace in the thoughts of Dr. Angela Davis, an American political activist, who would rather worry about the floor than that glass ceiling. Those thoughts often keep her humbled, and remind her why she’s doing this work. “We often get in own way. We need to post those salary ranges and know what we should be looking for, asking for — and to be taken seriously,” says Shandra.
Shandra believes that you can either be quiet, and observe — or you can speak out. She decided to speak out on behalf of those who aren’t able to speak out for themselves. And until everyone has equal opportunities — not just women, but people of all ages, races, backgrounds, and identities — she will fight every step of the way.
A fun and interesting thing about Shandra? She has run 2 half marathons, and is planning on training for a third in Bryce Canyon. “Be proud of what your body can do! No matter if you fit a mold or not …”
Stacie Kulp — Executive Director, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society
Starting off her career in hospitality and hotel management, Stacie Kulp never thought that one day she’d be running a non-profit focused on fighting cancer. When Stacie was young, she unfortunately lost her grandmother to cancer. She ended up registering for a marathon that helped raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, while she was going to school in San Francisco.
After really enjoying her experience, volunteering and working part-time for the organization, Stacie realized that this work was resonating with her at such a different level. She loved helping, she loved the patients, and most of all she loved how it made her feel. The chain of events from there on out, was quite serendipitous.
Stacie moved back to Utah, was pushed out of her comfort zone, and started working as a campaign manager for the organization. After so much growth during those years, the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society finally decided that it needed to open up a dedicated Utah chapter. There would be no other person better for the job of managing and directing, than Stacie Kulp.
Stacie believes that everything happens for a reason. She was scared, nervous, and wanted to keep a good balance with work and home — but those thoughts didn’t let her keep from “ripping the band-aid off.” Instead, it pushed her to rise to the opportunity. Having a good support team around you will always help, but as women we really must not be afraid of the challenges. Embrace the learning and growth you will obtain. For the generation of women behind us, Stacie advises to “be patient, and build those foundations.”
Stacie is so proud of what her LLS chapter has become, and looks up to the great women who’ve come before her — paving the way. A few things about Stacie you might not know? She has a ladybug tattoo, that helps her to “remember the past, but trust the journey.” Stacie also has biked 100 miles around Lake Tahoe, and she loves to fly fish — but just for fun, not for eating!
Elisabeth Nebeker — Executive Director, Utah Film Center
As a student Elisabeth had many jobs, starting with babysitting. One of her favorite families asked her, “what is the highest hourly rate among your friends? Because you deserve that, plus $1.” Who wouldn’t want that kind of praise and affirmation as a young teen? After many jobs including a department store, a bagel shop and even a Utah ski resort, Elisabeth really just wanted to grow up and be “happy.”
Early on, Elisabeth was drawn to Sundance in 1996, out of her respect and vision of Robert Redford. She was interested in independent film, and learned quickly that the Institute was very much centered on the storyteller. She admired that focus, and through enormous growth, it was truly that connection to our own communities that drew her into the industry. She knew that she definitely wanted to be part of the Utah Film Center.
Now Executive Director of the organization, Elisabeth finds so much joy in the talent, passion and dedication of her staff. Not only in the work they are doing, but also in their personal lives, hobbies, interests, activism and their families.
As a woman in a leadership position, Elisabeth refers to the photo of the sweet little girl who is awestruck at Michelle Obama’s portrait hanging in the Smithsonian. It “perfectly demonstrates the importance of actually seeing what is possible,” she says. Women in leadership positions — whether it’s politics, business, media, or non-profits — need a representative of our voice. It needs to be a priority. In the film industry, “18% of all directors, writers, producers, executive producers, editors and cinematographers worked on the top 250 US films release last year (Celluloid Ceiling Report 2017), and that definitely needs to change,” says Elisabeth.
Elisabeth is inspired by her 15-year-old twin daughters, who teach her to always be kind throughout the ups and downs of life. As a runner as well, Elisabeth is also inspired by her morning running group. These close-knit women create friendship, support, motivation and advice — even at 5am on the Shoreline Trail! And one interesting thing about Elisabeth? She hasn’t missed a day of exercise (primarily running), since November 25. Now that is dedication!
Join us for our celebration of these wonderful women, and toast to National Women’s History Month! Feel free to bring the special women you want to celebrate, and of course the men who support them are also welcome.
A Cider Toast For Utah’s Women!
Tuesday, March 27, 2018
5:30-7:30pm | Mountain West Cider
425 N. 400 W., Salt Lake City, UT