Gary Richard Herbert was born in American Fork, Utah in 1947. Raised in Orem, he served a mission for his church, attended Brigham Young University and volunteered for the Utah National Guard. While in college, he married Jeanette Snelson and started a successful real estate brokerage firm. The Herberts became the parents of six children.
Herbert was elected to the Utah County Commission in 1990 where he served until he was sworn in as Utah’s lieutenant governor in 2005. In 2009, upon Governor Huntsman’s resignation to serve as a U.S. ambassador, Herbert became Utah’s 17th governor. Elected to serve out the remainder of the term in a 2010 special election, he was re-elected in 2012 and 2016.
Assuming office during the Great Recession, Herbert challenged Utah to become the nation’s top-performing economy. He streamlined state regulations, improved government efficiency, and championed Utah as a premiere business and travel destination. During his tenure, Utah consistently topped the nation for overall economic growth, employment and the diversification of its economy. Herbert also addressed difficult quality-of-life and social issues. He increased funding for education, invested in major air quality initiatives, and signed into law pathbreaking civil rights protections for LGBTQ populations that simultaneously protected vital religious freedoms.
Utah’s growth reversed temporarily in 2020 with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Herbert acted decisively during the early days of the pandemic to move schools to online instruction and limit indoor gatherings. Once health precautions were in place, Utah kept businesses open and emerged from the pandemic with low mortality, low unemployment and a vibrant, growing economy.
Herbert chaired the Western Governors Association, the National Governors Association and presided over the Council of State Governments. Upon leaving office, he launched the Herbert Public Policy Institute at Utah Valley University.
Leon Parson (b. 1951) was born in Provo, Utah. After receiving his BFA at the prestigious Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California and his MFA from Syracuse University in Syracuse, New York, Leon became a professor of art at Ricks College/BYU-Idaho University and taught for over 40 years. Leon enjoyed a thriving career as an artist of wildlife, provided illustrations for national magazines, painted portraits for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and created fine art landscapes and murals for temples throughout the world, including the temple located in Rome, Italy.