Natalie Gochnour serves as an associate dean in the David Eccles School of Business and director of the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute at the University of Utah. She also serves as the chief economist for the Salt Lake Chamber. In these roles, she provides policy leadership that helps Utah prosper.
Gochnour’s experience includes a diverse mix of public service and business experience. During her public service, she advised Utah governors Norm Bangerter, Mike Leavitt, and Olene Walker. She also served as a political appointee in the George W. Bush administration, serving as an associate administrator at the EPA and counselor to the secretary at Health and Human Services. For seven years she led the public policy business priorities of the Salt Lake Chamber.
Gochnour has authored over 250 published columns in Utah Business magazine and the Deseret News and co-hosts the weekly public radio program Both Sides of the Aisle on KCPW.
She has been recognized by the Downtown Alliance, YWCA of Salt Lake City, South Valley Chamber, Friends for Sight, Girl Scouts of Utah, and other community-focused organizations for her service and example in the community. Gochnour also serves the community by serving on the Utah Olympic Legacy Foundation, Utah Transportation Commission, O.C. Tanner, Altabank, and Primary Children’s Hospital boards. She is also vice-chair of Envision Utah and World Trade Center Utah.
Gochnour has both an undergraduate and master’s degree in economics from the University of Utah and specializes in and teaches public finance.
On November 19, the Salt Lake Chamber will recognize Natalie Gochnour as the 2021 ATHENA Leadership Award recipient at the Women & Business Conference and ATHENA Awards Luncheon. This award is given to an active member who demonstrates creativity and initiative in business, provides valuable service by devoting time and energy to improve the quality of life for others in the community, and assists women in reaching their full leadership potential.
We asked her a handful of questions to get to know her a little better:
- What are you passionate about? I love Utah’s mountains and deserts. My husband and I love to ski, hike, cycle, and camp. We met in Utah’s red rock country and take every opportunity we can to “bag peaks” in the Greater Wasatch.
- As you reflect back on your career, which initiative stands out as one that had an impact on business and for Utah? It was gratifying to play a role in helping to expand TRAX Light Rail and Frontrunner Commuter Rail in Utah. I also worked closely with many others to write and promote the Utah Compact on Immigration, and to found the Downtown Rising Movement.
- What is your most rewarding professional experience? I loved serving as a political appointee in Washington D.C. during the George W. Bush Administration. It also meant a lot to me to help with the 2002 Olympic Winter Games.
- What does your organization do to support women in business? The Kem C. Gardner Institute helps Utahns make informed decisions. By supporting data-informed policies in business and in government, we help Utah prosper, which increases opportunities for women.
- What do you see as the biggest challenge women face in business today? How do you think it can be overcome? I would like to see society invest more in Utah families, including an earned income tax credit, high quality Pre-K and childcare, increased funding for socio-economically disadvantaged students, more guidance counselors in schools, and increased expenditures for parks and trails. Utah’s business community, led by the Salt Lake Chamber, can help promote these and other public policies.
- What does it mean to you to be the recipient of the 2021 ATHENA International Award? I’m humbled to join a group of women whom I admire. I’m uncomfortable with the attention, but find peace in knowing that my story may inspire other women.
- What does having grit and grace mean to you? It means you have an inner strength that helps you stand up to challenges and lift others as you do it.
- What advice would you give to aspiring women leaders? Don’t get too enthralled with worldly things. Instead, find joy in simple pleasures – nature, music, great books, promising ideas, and the love of your family and friends.