The City of Orem recently announced a new Women in Leadership scholarship program for female employees. The first of the scholarships were presented this week.
“Utah State University recently released research data from the Women in Leadership Project that identified the lack of women in leadership positions in state and local government,” said Keri Rugg, Orem’s Human Resource manager. “One of the barriers that was identified was Utah women’s ability to compete for leadership positions due to limited formal education.”
In response to the barriers identified in the research data along with the city’s Equal Employment Opportunity Plan, the city administration created a Women in Leadership scholarship which allows female employees the opportunity to apply for up to $5,000 annually paid directly to their school of choice in their name.
“The City of Orem isn’t waiting to be a follower when it comes to giving women the opportunity to be competitive for leadership positions,” Rugg said. “The city is proactively leading the charge for change.
“It is my greatest pleasure to work for an organization that promotes and supports equal opportunity and looks for ways to remove barriers in equality,” Rugg added. “I appreciate the city administration and our elected officials for championing this effort and hope that other local governments will follow our example.”
This inaugural year for the program saw the city award eight employees the scholarship on Tuesday.
“Each recipient will be provided with a mentor who is a current leader in the city to help support and encourage the recipient through their educational journey,” Rugg said.
Recipients of the new scholarship program include the following:
Alexandra Morgan — She has been with Orem for a year and a half and is a member of the Police Department working as a dispatcher. Her long-term career goal is to earn a nursing degree and she is looking forward to using her nursing skills as a dispatcher to provide more compassionate service to those that call in for help. Her mentor will be Fire Chief Marc Sanderson.
Amy Peterson — She has been working for Orem for 26 years and has been in the HR division for 20 of those years. Peterson is going to use this scholarship to finish her degree in HR Management. As a single mom, it is important to her to show her two kids that when life gets tough you don’t give up, you work hard to change your situation. Rugg will be Peterson’s mentor.
Aubrey VanLeeuwen — She has been with the city for about five years and is working in the Finance department as a 311 Agent. VanLeeuwen is looking forward to using her scholarship to help her finish her degree in computer science. She hopes to become a leader in the IT division in the future. She currently works full time and goes to school full time. VanLeeuwen’s mentor will be Community Services Manager Kena Mathews.
Julie Heckert — Heckert has been with the city for over 25 years and works as an associate librarian. Her life is full of library memories. Heckert is passionate about library services, according to Rugg, and the importance of this community resource that fosters learning. She knows firsthand the power of the library to change lives. She will be using the scholarship to earn her Master of Library and Information Science degree. Julie’s mentor will be Economic Development Manager Kathi Lewis.
Katie Rossiter — She has been with the city almost a year and works in the police department as office administrator. She plans to use this scholarship to earn a degree in Communications from Utah Valley University. By going to school, as a single mom, she wants to be an example to her three daughters by showing them the importance of being goal-driven and hard working. Rossiter’s mentor will be HR Generalist Scott Swift.
McKell Hadlock — She has been with the city nearly four years as a police officer. Her goal is to break the boundaries of how far women have gone in the city and the police department, and she looks forward to competing in the future for administrative roles. Hadlock’s mentor will be Police Chief Josh Adams.
Sydney McGagin — She has been with the city for four years and is a dispatcher in the police department. She is looking forward to using this scholarship to further her education in emergency services at UVU. She is also interested in promoting within the department or possibly moving on to become a paramedic. Her dream is to be a first-generation college graduate. McGagin’s mentor will be Risk Manager Jason Adamson.
Tara Calencea — She is approaching her 13th year with the city and is currently an evidence technician in the police department. She placed her formal education on hold to care and provide for her family. Although she has a great deal of experience in the field of evidence, she lacks formal education. She looks forward to using this scholarship to one day sit on the court stand and say she has a bachelor’s degree when asked to state her schooling and experience. Calencea’s mentor will be Councilmember Debby Lauret.
“The city is investing $33,818 in these women’s futures,” Rugg said. “The biggest investment will be in the ability for these women to provide diversity and innovation in their future leadership roles here in the city of Orem.”