Pioneers in leadership honored

Credit: Glen Ricks, Glen Ricks Photography
Credit: Glen Ricks, Glen Ricks Photography

Brigham Young University Management Society, Utah Valley Chapter, honored Alan C. and Karen J. Ashton during the 9th Annual Pioneer in Leadership Award Gala scholarship fundraiser held on Feb. 15.

The award recognizes individuals who are “contemporary pioneers” in their communities, with past recipients that include President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, LaVell Edwards, Glenn Beck, Dr. Stephen R. Covey and Bill and Donna Marriott, to name a few.

Brother Ashton cofounded the WordPerfect Corporation after serving as a professor of Computer Science at BYU for 14 years. In 1994, Novell Inc. acquired WordPerect. The next year, Brother and Sister Ashton founded in Lehi, Utah, Thanksgiving Point, a farm, garden, and museum complex with a restaurant, deli, gift shop, theaters and other recreational features that appeal to families.

“We wanted to create something for the people around us,” Sister Ashton said. “We’ve been blessed financially and with a large family. We wanted to give something back to the community and the families in our area.”

Sister Ashton, a recipient of the Senator Arthur B. Watkins Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Cultural Arts, also is credited for establishing the Timpanogos Storytelling Festival, one of Thanksgiving Points’ most popular annual events.

The award sculpture was created by New Zealand artist Leroy Transfield and depicts two pioneers diligently pressing forward as they put their shoulders to the wheel of a wagon.

The artist wanted to depict “how the human spirit can overcome all obstacles through tenacity, hard work, teamwork and great leadership, both individually and as a group,” according to the artist biography in the event program.

The BYU Management Society works to be of service to the community and provides scholarships for outstanding local students attending the BYU Marriott School of Business and the Utah Valley University Woodbury School of Business.

Casey Adams is a features writer and reporter for Deseret News. Contact him at or (801) 236-6068 or on Twitter @casey907.

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