Olene Smith Walker, Ph.D. , Former Governor, State of Utah
Presentation Topic To Be Announced
With an unflinching commitment to hard work and good government, Olene S. Walker was sworn in as Utah’s 15th and first woman governor on November 5, 2003. Past accomplishments and a strong commitment to the future are hallmarks of Governor Walker’s distinguished service with the state.
While serving as Utah’s first woman lieutenant governor, Walker spearheaded many important initiatives including education programs, budget security measures, healthcare reform, and workforce development. She led the Healthcare Reform Task Force that resulted in establishing the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), ensuring affordable healthcare for Utah’s children. Walker also served as chair of the Workforce Task Force, resulting in the development of the Department of Workforce Services.
Governor Walker was a leader in the Utah House of Representatives where she served as majority whip. In 1985, she sponsored a bill to create the “Rainy Day Fund.” The fund helped enable the state to get through the economic slowdown without raising taxes. In 2003, USA Today named Utah as the state that best managed the downturn of the previous two years.
Walker's peers recognize her ability to provide clear leadership. She has chaired the National Conference of Lieutenant Governors and is a past president of the National Association of Secretaries of State, becoming the first lieutenant governor ever to serve as the president of that organization.
With a strong academic background, Governor Walker led Utah toward improvements in literacy and education. During her service, she pledged to keep education the highest funding priority and to provide a nurturing environment for Utah’s students. Walker continues to promote literacy for people of all ages.
Walker was born in Ogden, Utah. She received her bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate degrees from Brigham Young University, Stanford University, and the University of Utah, respectively. She is married to Myron Walker and is the mother of seven children and 25 grandchildren.