2019–20 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipients
Six outstanding alumni honored
compiled by Ann McCoy (MAT ’11, MEd. ’13) and Johanna Droubay
Each year the alumni board recognizes individuals who exemplify the spirit of Westminster and our tradition of excellence in the community. To nominate someone for next year’s Distinguished Alumni Awards, contact Conor Bentley: email@example.com
Honorary Alumna Award
You will often find Kristi Jones mentoring students and alumni long after her classes have ended—which is one of the reasons so many School of Education alumni call her their favorite professor. Kristi started teaching more than 35 years ago. In 2000, she earned a PhD from the University of Utah, and in 2001 she began teaching at Westminster.
Kristi’s educating has focused on preparing pre-service teachers to be leaders, advocates, and critical thinkers who design holistic instruction that honors each student’s developmental, cultural, personal, and linguistic backgrounds.
Kristi’s passion for developing thoughtful readers led her to conduct a 10-year study in Title I second-grade classrooms, the results of which she has presented locally, nationally, and internationally. She takes an active role at many Utah State Board and legislative meetings, arguing on behalf of teachers and the teaching profession. In 2015, she spearheaded a successful School of Education reunion, bringing more than 100 education alumni back to campus.
Outstanding Volunteer Award
Tyson Olcott (’13, MSC ’17)
If you’ve attended a Westminster alumni event in the last few years, there’s a good chance you’ve met Tyson Olcott (’13, MSC ’17). And there’s an even better chance Tyson has volunteered to make that event a success. Tyson studied communication and arts education as an undergrad before going on to earn a master’s in strategic communication. After graduating from Westminster and well into his successful career, Tyson participated in Westminster’s Master Track program. Throughout the program, he made professional connections that enriched his career.
Tyson is currently the marketing strategy manager at MasterControl, a computer software company based in Salt Lake City. In this role, he helps manage and develop the company’s brand via public relations and internal communications. Before joining MasterControl in 2018, Tyson worked as senior communications manager at Clearlink and, prior to that, as associate media relations manager for the Summit Group. He credits Westminster’s strong communication programs with helping him achieve his career goals. Because of this, Tyson gives back to Westminster whenever he can.
Distinguished Alumni Award
Amy Leininger (’11)
Amy Leininger (’11) is a remarkable entrepreneur, volunteer, humanitarian, and multitasker. While majoring in business at Westminster, she was also running her small business, Q Clothing.
Since graduating, Amy has stayed connected to the college, returning to speak at Westminster’s Women in Entrepreneurship Series. She is also active in the local community, volunteering for numerous organizations including the Junior League of Salt Lake City. She has made a significant contribution to the league’s human trafficking initiative and to its Women Helping Women clothing boutique. She co-founded the Downtown Artist Collective and has volunteered with Girls on the Run.
In addition to Q Clothing, Amy and her husband, Rheda Fouad, have opened several successful businesses in the Salt Lake area, including The Ruin, a cocktail bar recognized in Utah Business magazine’s “Best of Utah” issue.
Distinguished Alumni Award
Charles (Chuck) Chiarotti (’85)
Lieutenant General Charles (Chuck) Chiarotti (’85) has served in the US Marine Corps for 33 years. He currently serves as the deputy commander of the US Forces Japan at Yokota Air Base. Chuck has received numerous personal decorations including the Legion of Merit and the Bronze Star, among many others
After the events of September 11, 2001, he served as watch officer for the Crisis Action Team in the European Theater Command and Control Center. He then served as the branch chief of the Logistics Support Operation, responsible for the planning and execution of logistics support operations in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom from within the European area of responsibility. The lieutenant general also completed a fellowship at Pennsylvania State University’s Smeal School of Business and earned a master’s degree from the Naval War College.
Chuck’s nominator wrote: “He never expected to make his military service into a career, but he views it as a way to give back to his country and a community that has given him so much. Chuck adopted these values while at Westminster. He believes Westminster challenges students to serve others.
Athletic Hall of Fame Award
Ann (’66) and Anthony “Tony” (’64) Merritt
Theirs is a classic Westminster love story. Ann Merritt (’66) and her late husband, Anthony “Tony” Merritt (’64), met on campus and were very active students. Tony played football and noted that Professor John Telecky and Coach Harold Richardson had a major impact on him. He and Ann had a picture of John framed and hung at the college.
After graduation, Tony and Ann ran successful car dealerships in Arizona. Their core business values emphasized honesty, diversity, and respect for customers and employees. Tony continued his involvement with the college by serving on the Westminster Board of Trustees during 1988–89, and he and Ann hosted Westminster College alumni events.
Ann and Tony were married for 48 years before Tony passed away unexpectedly in January of 2013. Shortly thereafter, Ann decided to honor Tony’s legacy with a gift to Westminster that provided scholarships to single mothers, as well as athletics funding that would propel the college into NCAA Division II. When Ann gave this transformative gift, she said, “Tony always said that if he ever could, he would give the little college $1 million.”
About the Westminster Review
The Westminster Review is Westminster University’s bi-annual alumni magazine that is distributed to alumni and community members. Each issue aims to keep alumni updated on campus current events and highlights the accomplishments of current students, professors, and Westminster alum.