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Stories of Service from Commissioners and Past Executive Directors

- Our past and current commissioners - 

In celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Utah Commission on Service & Volunteerism Governor Gary Herbert signed a declaration making 2014 a year of service in Utah. The declaration recognizes that community engagement improves the quality of life of residents and that volunteerism contributes significantly to our state’s economic growth and prosperity.

Without the hard work and dedication behind the scenes, of our Commissioners and Executive Directors, UServeUtah could not have accomplished so many wonderful things and impacted the community and Utah citizens in such a powerful way.

In celebration of our 20th Anniversary we reached out to the people who have made us what we are today, past Executive Directors and Commissioners, and asked them to them to share their stories of service.

Erica DahlErica Dahl, UCOV Commissioner, 2009-Present

What is your favorite memory from the time you have spent with the Commission?

Being asked by Governor Huntsman to serve and seeing his strong commitment to volunteer service carried on by his predecessor and Lt Governors Bell & Cox.

Why do you believe in the mission of the Commission? Why is what we do important to the state of Utah? 

Volunteering really does make a difference to our community and it brings the best people together to serve a greater good.

What volunteer activities are you currently involved with? Why do you serve your community? 

 I love service and I really do receive more from it than I could ever give.  I am on the board of The Road Home and the Junior League of Salt Lake.

Dwight RasmussenDwight Rasmussen, Commission Chair, 1998-2006 & 2010-Present

Please tell us about the accomplishment(s) you are most proud of achieving during your tenure with the Commission. 

During my 3 separate appointments on the Utah commission, I am most proud of maintaining a presence and focus of older adults as a resource of potential volunteers.  Even though the federal regulations governing Commission membership required a representative of that demographic, it has been important that it be more than just a commission member.  I believe this presence has inspired collaborative working relationships between AmeriCorps and Senior Corps programs.

What is your favorite memory from the time you have spent with the Commission?

Seeing the Commission evolve from the beginning from a group of individual commission members that were primarily just a body that was reported to on the activities undertaken by Commission staff, to a working body of involved and interested individuals in advancing service in our communities and state wide.

Why do you believe in the mission of the Commission? Why is what we do important to the state of Utah?

In my extended career in managing national service grants, I have had an opportunity to view firsthand the great work that these programs accomplish in communities here in Utah and across the Nation.  All of the programs, Senior Corps, AmeriCorps and Vista have helped communities solve problems at the local level and have helped countless individuals faced with some of the most difficult challenges.  I have always believed that federal, state and local governments have a strategic role in mobilizing individuals into service.  Once an individual has served in a National Service program, the likelihood of them continuing to serve and volunteer throughout their life in some capacity increases dramatically.  Communities across the nation are always in need, Government does not have the financial resources to serve everyone’s needs, but national service is the catalyst by which a relatively small investment in financial resources yields huge returns in service, thus making communities a better place to live and individual lives are enhanced and changed for the better.

What volunteer activities are you currently involved with? Why do you serve your community?

At this point in my life, I am not engaged in an organized volunteer program.  Full time work keeps me very busy.  However I am always engaged in helping my neighbors, other family members and in my church.  I think every person should give willingly to lend a hand to those who are a little less fortunate.  I never think twice about helping a friend in need.

Kathy Smith presenting awards with David Eisner at the 2007 Utah Conference on Service

Kathy Smith presenting awards with David Eisner at the 2007 Utah Conference on Service

Kathy Smith, Utah Commission on Volunteers Executive Director, July 2005-July 2008

Please tell us about the accomplishments you are most proud of achieving during your tenure with the Commission.

Happy 20th Anniversary, Utah Commission on Service and Volunteerism! I have many wonderful memories of my seven years at the Utah Commission on Volunteers. I started in June of 2001 as a Utah’s Promise program manager creating communities of promise.  Governor Olene S. Walker’s literacy program was an important priority. In 2002, the Utah Commission on Volunteers Executive Director Scott Snow and I added a focus on citizen involvement in emergency preparedness and in March of 2003, we co-founded the Utah Citizen Corps Council with the Utah Department of Public Safety. In July of 2005, I became Executive Director found myself, just six weeks later, helping to coordinate volunteer and donations management for the Hurricane Katrina relief efforts at Camp Williams.
In April of 2006, the Utah Commission on Volunteers launched the Be Ready Utah campaign with the enthusiastic support of then Lt. Governor Gary Herbert. If I had to pick one accomplishment, this is the one I am most proud of. Every time I see the red button logo of the Be Ready Utah campaign, I remember the little band of volunteers returning from a Citizen Corps Conference in Montana, sitting in an airport and sharing big ideas for a Utah Citizen Corps program that eventually led to Be Ready Utah.

What is your favorite memory from the time you spent with the Commission?

Our outstanding AmeriCorps members deserve a special mention especially those who served with us at the Commission on Volunteers in 2007-2008.  the Utah Commission on Volunteers had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to recruit and manage volunteers for the Utah State Capitol Rededication and Open House event in February of 2008. It was an enormous commitment to the Capitol Preservation Board. The AmeriCorps members managed several hundred volunteers during an eight-day period with great success!

Why do you believe in the mission of the Commission? Why is what we do important to the state of Utah?

Utah consistently ranks #1 in the nation because our heritage is built on a strong work ethic and a spirit of self reliance.  Utahns are quick to help whenever and wherever they can – in our schools, churches, hospitals, and neighborhoods, volunteering as everything from teachers’ aides to docents at the zoo. Service and volunteerism areempowering, both for the volunteers and for the communities we love. I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to work for and direct the Utah Commission on Volunteers if I hadn’t first immersed myself in its volunteer programs.

What volunteer activities are you currently involved with? Why do you serve your community?

I chair the Constitution Day Committee of Utah which hosts an annual event for the anniversary of the signing of the U.S. Constitution on September 17, 1787. Our mission is to unite our community in a celebration of and appreciation for the Constitution of the United States; to inspire Constitution Study Groups and further action on the part of adults and youth. I also volunteer regularly with church youth activities and occasionally in our community gardens because I want to behave as though I’m here to stay.

Please share anything else you would like about your service with the Commission.

The best thing I learned from my tenure at the Utah Commission on Volunteers was how to develop partnerships to accomplish a common goal. Recognizing that people and organizations have much to offer and inviting them to be active participants is what makes communities strong.
I loved working with LaDawn Stoddard and have great respect and admiration for her many abilities and skills. She is a very capable Executive Director with a passion for AmeriCorps and volunteerism.
I extend my sincere best wishes to all of you, LaDawn, Commissioners, and the team at the commission as you celebrate 20 years of association with the Corporation for National and Community Service!


Scott Snow, Utah Commission on Volunteers Executive Director, 2002-2004

Please tell us about the accomplishments you are most proud of achieving during your tenure with the Commission.

Utah’s Promise being awarded the Utah Philanthropy Day award for nonprofit/community program of of the year in 2003 or so.

Team AmeriCorps Serving Utah during the Winter Olympics of 2002 which brought 200 members of AmeriCorps*State, AmeriCorps*VISTA & Americorps*NCCC all together to serve in SLC at shelters, food kitchens, etc. it was the first project that had all three branches working together. It also created a new logo which was adapted into the new, current AmeriCorps logo.

Expanding Governor’s Points of Light Awards, started by Michael Call.

Planning & Hosting the national Conference on Community Service & Volunteerism which featured First Lady Laura Bush as keynote speaker in June 2002.

Helping start & create the Governor’s Commission on Literacy and ‘Read With A Child 20 minutes everyday’ campaign under Governor Olene S. Walker’s leadership in 2004.

The strong partnership with Utah’s Volunteer Centers that I helped solidify because of my time as a VC director and Chair of the state association before my role as ED of the Commission.

What is your favorite memory from the time you spent with the Commission?

Hearing Olene S. Walker as Lt. Governor/Chair of the Commission sharing her vision and inspiration! She is the best boss I’ve ever had!

What volunteer activities are you currently involved with? Why do you serve your community?

I am active in local politics and consider myself ‘civically engaged’ in my community with city council, county commission, etc. I also am a PTA volunteer in my kids’ elementary school classrooms and assist with literacy efforts as a United Way of Utah County ‘Everyday Learners.’