My Family’s Expedition into Disconnection

To celebrate my turning 65 years young, earlier this month I convinced my family to go on a five-day rafting trip. Exploring the vastness of the Utah desert and the serenity of the Green River, my family of eight (my wife, our adult son and daughter, son-in-law, two grandsons and granddaughter (aged between 11-15)) survived a rickety plane ride to the middle of nowhere and set off.

rafting

It was a trip of many laughs, self-discovery, family bonding, and the welcomed chance to unplug from the world for a few days. The experience of being outside, surrounded by red rock and family, surrendering ourselves to will of Mother Nature, reminded us while we can’t control external events, we do have the ability to control our attitudes toward them.

Read the full story here.

Power of Your Purse 2017 – Empowering Girls Through Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math

Every year, The United Way of Salt Lake hosts its annual Power of Your Purse Gala, raising funds for and celebrating the work of the Women’s Leadership Council. The efforts of the Women’s Leadership Council are focused upon Women for Education Achievement, which aims to help young girls and women reach their potential through education.

The Women’s Leadership Council is a group of over 250 local women leaders with a goal of increasing the educational opportunity and achievement for all girls and young women in our community. Their focus, the Women for Educational Achievement, shoot to make a positive impact through tracking key metrics such as:

· Increasing the percent of elementary students testing proficient or higher in math and reading by the third grade;

· Pushing middle school students to play a more active role in engaging in their education by showing they understand its value and importance to their future success;

· Measurably improved high school graduation rates; and

· A major focus on the entrance to and completion of post-secondary educational programs such as technical training or college.

To influence students in pursuing these goals, the Women’s Leadership Council has made efforts to change the narrative and cultural factors regarding women’s place in education and the workforce. By coordinating with local partners promoting education in the community, progress has been made in all of these key areas, but a lot of work must still be done. Funding curriculum that highlights the importance of post-secondary education, as well as raising awareness of and addressing financial issues that impact the ability to pursue continued education remain top priority for the Council.

The annual Power of Your Purse event is held as the signature event to bring awareness and raise funds for these issues, and more. This year’s focus will be on launching new science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) initiatives for low-income students across the Salt Lake Valley. Keynote speaker Reshma Saujani will discuss the importance of equipping young women with the technological and computing skills necessary to pursue high quality careers in the 21st century. She is the founder and CEO of Girls Who Code, a national leader on closing the gender gap in computer science and technology jobs. Her recent TED Talk on empowering girls and young women by teaching them bravery through risk-taking and the embracing failure, as well as the importance of mentorship, has over 3 million views.

While tickets to this event have sold out, you can still make a donation to support STEM initiatives for low income students by clicking here.

Jane and Tami Marquardt are proud to support this event and the work of the United Way of Salt Lake.

Bookended by Terror: Strength, Courage, and the Curiosity to Forge Friendships

Jane at Louvre

My recent family vacation took an unexpected turn due to international conflicts. Our original plan was to go to Turkey with my grandchildren. Ten days before we were to depart, the Ataturk Airport in Istanbul was bombed, killing 44 and injuring over 230 others. Needless to say, we changed our family travel plans, and ended up in France. Terror accompanied us there, too.

Will we stop traveling? Absolutely not. Tami and I firmly believe visiting different places and experiencing different cultures is important for our grandchildren and a part of personal development. It’s up to us to have the strength, courage, and curiosity to forge friendships and gain an appreciation for people living around the world. It’s up to us to stand with the everyday people grieving and worrying in these countries, for they are not much different than us.

We can’t let terror win. We can’t let isolationism win. Read our fully story here.

Plan-B Theatre Announces 2016/17 Shows

Jane Marquardt Plan B Theatre Company

Plan-B Theatre raises awareness and invites conversation about the important issues that are present in our community. The Theatre’s productions spotlight Utah playwrights while delving into themes such as LGBTQ rights, the HIV/AIDS epidemic, cancer, racism, and religion through the use of dynamic and engaging characters to show how these issues impact people every day. Plan-B’s use of stage to focus on equality for all is a powerful medium to encourage meaningful conversations and create change in our community.

Jane and her wife Tami became directly involved with Plan-B during the 2001 production of The Laramie Project. “An extraordinary feat of theatrical journalism,” the play highlighted the social issues, events, and pressures surrounding and leading up to the 1998 murder of Matthew Shepard in Laramie, Wyoming.

This year, Plan-B Theatre is proud to announce its lineup for the 2016/17 season, featuring world premieres by Utah playwrights Debora Threedy, Tim Slover, Morag Shepherd, and Melissa Leilani Larson. The theme of the season is “what it means to speak the truth.” Four shows will comprise the season- One Big Union, Virtue, Not One Drop, and The Edible Complex. For more information on these shows, visit http://www.peaceandpossibilityproject.org/plan-b-theatre-announces-20162017-lineup/.

 

United Way of Salt Lake

Jane Marquardt serves on the Board of Directors as Vice Chair of United Way of Salt Lake. It is an organization that has assisted families in reaching their potential though education, promoting healthy lives, and fostering income stability.

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Established over 100 years ago as the Salt Lake Charity Association, United Way of Salt Lake’s mission has always been focused on finding ways to help the poor and coordinate and implement social programs. It has been an agent for social change by building healthy communities, expanding educational opportunities to at-risk children, and being ahead of the curve in identifying new and critical issue areas affecting the community. Today, the group serves 1.4 million people along the Wasatch Front – over half of Utah’s population.UWSL Hand

United Way of Salt Lake is changing the way communities approach problem solving. Through its “Collective Impact” model, the organization has brought community partners together to tackle complex issues. What is the “Collective Impact” model and why is it so effective? To find out, visit the Peace & Possibility Project. 

The Community Foundation of Utah Hosts LGBT Community Endowment Fund Grant Award Reception

Logo for Community Foundation of UtahLast month, the Community Foundation of Utah hosted a celebration of Utah not-for-profit organizations that support and empower the LGBTQ community, as well as the collective good that has been accomplished by all allies who contribute to the LGBT Community Endowment Fund. The event was held on September 16 at the S.J. Quinney College of Law at the University of Utah. Grant check which ranged in size from $1,000 to $5,000 were awarded to a dozen different nonprofits, totaling as much as $40,000 awarded overall. Held to honor the incredible work accomplished by all nonprofit organizations in attendance, the event will highlight the successes of each group in the preceding year, as well as their upcoming projects to continue working for the betterment of Utah’s LGBTQ community members.

Representatives from each nonprofit grantee offered a one-minute pitch of their project or organization which at times resulted in as much as an additional $1,500 in funding. Jane Marquardt was proud to serve on the board of select judges in attendance who weighed in on these pitches, along with fellow selection committee members that included Jim Dabakis and Michelle Turpin (among other donors and supporters).

The nonprofit grantees who sent representatives included:

  • Big Brothers Big Sisters of Utah
  • Equality Utah
  • J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah
  • Office of Inclusion and Outreach, University of Utah
  • OUTreach Resource Centers
  • Pioneer Craft House
  • Senior Charity Care Foundation
  • UMOCA Utah Museum of Contemporary Art
  • Utah Film Center
  • Utah Pride Center
  • Westminster College
  • Youth Futures

The LGBT Community Endowment Fund is just one of more than two hundred different philanthropic funds that the Community Foundation of Utah oversees. This specific endowment represents a united effort to support the LGBT community be creating space to receive and direct the largest, most meaningful contribution of donors willing to fund positive change and progress within the state of Utah. Since its establishment in 2011, the LGBT Community Fund has granted $243,600 to 20 nonprofit organizations.

Grants typically range from $1,000 to $5,000 in size and have been allocated to a dizzying variety of efforts. These include arts performance, youth mentoring, education, legal aid, anti-bullying, aid to rural organizations focused on the LGBT community, college internships, and more. This collective action illustrates the power of LGBT philanthropy and the community’s dedication to the safety, health, and happiness of all Utah’s citizens, regardless of sexual or gender identity.

Peace & Possibility Project Speaker Series Thrives

Hosted at the Weber State University’s LGBT Resource Center, the Marquardt Peace & Possibility Speaker Series continues to work to improve the university’s culture of tolerance and acceptance by inviting leading LGBTQ activists and advocates to campus. This work aims to nurture a sense of inclusion and allyship. Jane and Tami donated a substantial sum to ensure the project is properly funded to achieve this important goals.

When she spoke at the center, Jane shared, “For decades, Weber State has been the leader in northern Utah in promoting conversations surrounding diversity and the LGBT community.   I am so proud of the leadership demonstrated by Weber State, and the opportunities the university is opening for people of all backgrounds throughout Utah.”

The LGBT Resource Center Coordinator, Jayson Stokes, stated the value of their donation in empowering the center to stay open and to eventually expand. It was the first large endowment granted to the newly minted LGBT Resource Center and represents what will hopefully be just the first in a long line of symbolic investments in the center’s mission. Jane Marquardt had previously gifted the university a sum which became the Phoenix Achievement scholarship for Women. Jane is closely associated to the university, a relationship which dates back to the 1980’s when she taught as an adjunct professor there, as well as served on the Board of Trustees.

Since opening in the beginning of 2015, the LGBT Resource Center has organized and cosolidated campus resources available for LGBT students and allies who need them. They also invest in organizations that provide access to legal support for communities in need.

Jane Marquardt in the Huffington Post

Jane Marquardt and TamiMarriage is a major moment in most anyone’s life. Naturally, there is the tradition, the ceremony, and the celebration. All of these receive vast amounts of attention in pop culture. People pour their money, time, and effort into bringing the dream of a perfect wedding to life. However, the wedding itself is only ever symbolic. It represents something much bigger than the sum of its parts.

A marriage is the commitment of two individuals to join into a union. Two become one in a perfect partnership of love. That’s the true reason the day is so often described as “the perfect day,” regardless of what anyone wore, how the food tasted, or what music was played. Recently, Jane Marquardt shared with the Huffington post how she came to have more than a week’s worth of perfect days.

Jane’s story is winding and inspirational, especially for people who may not yet understand the huge advances in LGBT rights that have only been witnessed recently. These developments have had very real, positive, and immediate impacts on the lives of so many Americans. In celebration of the Supreme Court’s recent ruling which finally put to rest the dwindling debate on this civil rights issue, Jane spoke candidly about what it was like to grow and find love with her longtime partner, Tami. These two women proudly fought time and again to express their love and confirm their partnership in the eyes of what was, at the time, an ever-changing legislative landscape. Ultimately married six times in multiple states, as well as in Canada, before the U.S. Supreme Court decision this year cemented their union’s legal legitimacy, Jane and Tami continue to work towards wider acceptance and empowerment of the LGBT community in their home state of Utah and beyond.

Read Jane Marquardt’s full story in her own words on the Huffington Post here.

The 2015 Utah Pride Festival Is Poised For Success

janemarquardtDowntown Salt Lake City is buzzing with eager anticipation as this year’s Utah Pride Festival approaches. Held this week from Thursday, June 4 to Sunday, June 7, the celebration showcases our state’s proud lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community. Organized and managed by the Utah Pride Center, the event hosts a massive array of exciting and positive activities, including Utah’s second-largest parade, the Pride Parade. The theme for 2015 is Pride Is…, purposefully designed to encourage everyone to reflect on and embrace the meaning of Pride for them personally.

The Utah Pride Festival began in 1974 as a small, informal gathering in City Creek Park of proud residents who were ready and willing to celebrate their community. Joe Redburn and the staff of the Sun Tavern loosely organized it. In the decades since, it has grown to meteoric proportions and become a staple of the city’s annual calendar, serving as a bright and bold opportunity to come together, educate, and revel in the robust diversity of the community. These days, the Festival attracts over 35,000 participants – and that number grows every year! Nearly 1,000 volunteers will cover 1,400 shifts and vendors will staff hundreds of booths. The Pride Parade alone included 143 entries last year and drew about 25,000 spectators.

The 2015 iteration includes a number of exciting activities for LGBTQ community members, families, friends, and allies. On Thursday, the Community of Christ will host an Interfaith Service at First Baptist Church. The following evening begins with the Grand Marshal Reception. This year’s Grand Marshal is Janet Mock, the prominent advocate, speaker, and New York Times bestelling author. In addition to receptions, the Grand Marshal leads the Pride Parade. Afterwards, there will be poster making and rallies, followed by a kick-off party and Opening Ceremonies.

Saturday afternoon, the Festival Gates open at 3pm. Festival organizers have planned a number of “zones” for different activities and to cater to different visitors, including a SAGE Zone (for everyone), a Youth Zone, a Family Zone, a Gender Zone (to celebrate and support transgender identities), a Health Zone, a Pet Zone, a History Zone, and several more. At 8pm headliner DEV will take the stage. The rest of the evening is dedicated to a dance party. Sunday starts with a Pride Day 5k Fun Run at 9 in the morning, followed by the beloved Utah Pride Parade at 10. The Festival Gates open again at 11am, with entertainment scheduled (including headliner XELLE) until the Festival closes at 7pm.

The Utah Pride Center oversees the Festival, in addition to a growing portfolio of ongoing and annual services, events, and activities that support the state’s LGBT community. The Center evolved from the Utah Stonewall Center which was founded in the early 1990s.

Plan-B Theatre Announces New Season

In celebration of its 25th anniversary season, The Plan-B Theatre Company will produce five new pieces by Utah playwrights. One of these four plays will be the company’s first ever original musical production. Tickets for the season are $70.

The company’s work promoting socially conscious narratives at the local level has earned recognition from Governor Gary Herbert as true art leadership. The new season will include the tenth edition of a radio play, a co-production with musical accompaniment from the NOVA Chamber Music Series, and a dark, new Christmas comedy.

Between October 18 and November 9, they will present “The Kreutzer Sonata.” Adapted by Eric Samuelsen from Leo Tolstoy’s classic, the play tells the tale of a man driven to violent insanity by Beethoven’s music. Co-produced with NOVA, it will feature live performances by esteemed pianist Jason Hardink and Utah Symphony associate concertmaster Kathryn Eberle.

On October 30, Plan-B will showcase Mathew Ivan Bennett’s “Radio Hour Episode 10: Otherwise.” The production features music by David Evanoff and KUER’s Doug Fabrizio conversing with the book’s author about paranormal activity. The performance will take place at 11 in the morning on RadioWest and be rebroadcast at 7 that evening.

Beginning on December 3, Rob Tennant’s black comedy “Booksmart” will run for ten days. The play details the holidays from a retail perspective, as a bookstore clerk attempts to incite a seasonal protest amongst his co-workers.

In 2016, from February 25 until March 6, the theatre company will share the story of a woman trapped in the future, totally removed from her husband and normal life, in Elaine Jarvik’s “Based on a True Story.” The play investigates how the way in which a story is told can impact and alter both the past and the future.

Between March 31 and April 10, Plan-B will produce “Kingdom of Heaven” by Jenifer Nii. The piece describes the life of Mormon housewife on a mission to learn true self-acceptance, all while dressed in drag.

The Plan-B Theatre Company sits poised to gift the community with thought-provoking and sincerely entertaining work in the coming season.