My amazing wife, Kim, and I have four children ranging from 13 years down to 3. Our oldest three currently attend public school, which has provided me with a great insight on how things are now and what can be done to improve our education system. My wife received her degree from Utah Valley University in Social Work. She grew up in Ephraim and attended Snow College. While in High School, she was the pitcher on the softball team. She spends most of her time running our kids to all of their different activities, as well as teaching piano. She is also currently taking some classes in preparation to go back to get her Masters and eventually plans to become a school counselor. Our son Jackson spends most of his time either playing soccer with Surf, practicing the cello, or scouting. Laney and Brooklyn both love dance and cheer. Lincoln is our fun little busy body and attends Learning Dynamics. As a family, we love to visit southern Utah, either to St. George or Moab. We enjoy spending time in the mountains, hiking and fishing. In whatever spare time I have, I love to read and play the guitar.
Kim and I both come from large families. She has five kids in her family and I have seven in mine. This means we have lots of cousins for our kids to play with and our kids look forward to our family reunions every year. Most of Kim’s side of the family lives in Canada, which is where she spent her summers growing up. Even now, she stays close with her cousins that she used to visit as a kid and tries to get up there at least once a year.
I was born on July 4th, 1976, hence the name Jefferson. I was the fifth child of seven kids. My family was very active in public service and we often discussed issues around the dinner table. My dad served in the State House of Representatives and worked on many campaigns, which meant that we also helped on many campaigns. My dad had us memorize the Preamble to the Constitution at a young age and those words have stayed with me throughout my life. In addition, when I was young I read a quote by Thomas Jefferson that I often still use in my public service. He stated “The price of freedom is eternal vigilance”. That statement is as true today as it was 200 years ago.
My father passed away suddenly when I was 14 years old. This left my mom with seven kids to raise on her own. My oldest brother was 21 and had been home from his mission for a week and my youngest sister was 10. Shortly after my father passed, my mom returned to complete her doctorate degree while still working full time. Watching my mom work so hard to provide for us while doing what she needed to do to retain her job had a significant impact on me. Finances were tight but she took care of us and taught us the importance of getting a good education. I started working at a young age and did what I could to take care of myself. I believe that experience has helped shape my view of the world. If I needed something, I knew I had to work hard and earn it. I saw my mom stretch a dollar as far as she possibly could, while still providing us with opportunities.
I believe in being a lifetime student and have gained much of my education from personal reading. My first real passion in government came as I read several books by Ezra Taft Benson. In college, I received my degree from Brigham Young University in Political Science with an emphasis in Philosophy. I was particularly interested in the philosophers that helped to shape our founders’ ideas on our form of government. During my undergraduate, I attended the Washington Seminar in Washington DC. While working for a member of Congress, I gained a practical education on how government works. I also earned an MBA from BYU, with an emphasis in Finance and Entrepreneurship. I was one of a handful of students selected to be a member of Cougar Capital, a student run venture capital firm. As an investor in startup companies, I gained a deeper understanding and appreciation for the free market system and what it takes to build a business from a simple idea to a successful enterprise. I also completed a certificate in financial planning from New York University.
My career has traveled down several paths. I started several businesses while attending college, including a web development and marketing company. After graduating, I helped launch a tech company. I watched as the founders of that company put everything they owned (and every credit card they could get their hands on) to build a company from the ground up. I vividly remember my first day there when I completed a sale, and the founder of the company came up to me and thanked me because they now had enough to make payroll. During that period, I had a roommate who was making interesting leather products. I asked if he wanted to go into business together. I self funded the company and led the sales, marketing, strategy and business development. We were able to grow the company into a multi-million dollar business and successfully sold the company.
I then worked for vSpring Capital as a portfolio consultant. This again provided me with great insight into how critical entrepreneurship is to our economy and how the free market system works. I was then recruited to work in San Francisco for Credit Suisse, a Swiss Investment Bank. This provided me with a much greater understanding of finance, banking and investments. It also gave me a global view on how the world financial system is interrelated and the impacts that fiscal and monetary policy has on the global economy. After several years in San Francisco, my wife and I determined we should move back to Utah. For the last four years, I worked for Key Bank in their Private Bank. My role was to coordinate the efforts of our team on all aspects of wealth management, including estate planning, financial planning, tax strategy, philanthropic goals, credit needs and investment management. Currently I work as the Senior Director of Investment Management and Development Services for the Utah Valley University Foundation. My role is to oversee the day to day operations for the endowment management and fundraising efforts.
I have spent most of my adult life involved in public service. I was raised with the expectation that I should always give back. I began by service on the city council while in my mid twenties. I had only recently moved to Saratoga Springs, but I felt compelled to get involved. As the fastest growing city in Utah, I knew it was critical that we were managing our growth effectively and ensuring we were being fiscally responsible. Shortly after being elected, our city was hit severely by the housing crisis. We had a high percentage of speculative homes and our housing revenue dried up almost overnight. Much of this impact of the financial downturn was not provided to the council, with the hopes by staff that things would be temporary. When it continued to decline, the council was informed. As a small business owner with an MBA, I felt that I needed to dig in and do what was necessary to fix the mess we were in. Other council members and I held multiple town hall meetings to share every detail of our financial situation and ask for feedback and recommendations. We went over every item in every department to ensure we were being as efficient as possible. We cut our city budget drastically, which required some very difficult decisions. I pushed to cut deeper than any other city council member. I knew we could do more with less. With the recent launch of a police department and other city services that we needed to provide, it was obvious we weren’t going to be able to sustain the current revenue necessary. In evaluating our options, our city staff recommended increasing fees on utilities. Many other cities use this approach because it doesn’t require compliance with truth in taxation laws. My concern in doing that was two fold. One, I thought it was deceitful. I didn’t think it was the honest, transparent way to tax residents. I’d rather state exactly how the funds were being used. Two, it was fiscally responsible to match fixed revenues with fixed costs. This way we knew that there was a fixed base that could sustain financial downturns for things that were critical to our city. This experience taught me some very valuable lessons when it comes to government and I’ve learned that you need to be continually vigilant. You need to always be prepared for worst case scenarios. I also learned that you can’t always trust the information you are provided.
After moving back to Saratoga Springs, I was asked to serve on the Planning Commission. Having served on the City Council, I better understood how important the planning process was, particularly in a city growing as fast as ours.After that I decided to run for the State Board of Education, representing parts of Saratoga Springs, Eagle Mountain, Bluffdale, Herriman, South Jordan and other outlying areas. With my finance background, I was asked to serve on the Finance and Audit committees.Up until that point, it wasn’t common to have board members with strong finance backgrounds. In our case, we had two with MBAs and one with a CPA background. We began to dig into the numbers and asked a lot of questions around multiple issues we found. It was clear that things weren’t being managed as well as they should be. There was an obvious lack in systems and oversight. The State Board had never approved an actual budget and there were no spending plans for individual departments. There were large balances in broad item codes that would be shifted to other object codes on an as needed basis. We found many expenses that were “pet projects”with no accountability or clear strategic benefit. In addition, with the recent cuts in certain departments there was a lack of revenue to support operations. Since becoming aware of these issues, the Board has put systems and people in place to ensure that we are being accountable andas efficientas possible with our resources.
Additionally, I have served on a number of other boards. For the last four years, I’ve served on the foundation board at Utah Valley University. It was clear when I joined the board that there was limited investment experience on the board. When evaluating the endowment, it was apparent our investment portfolio was misaligned with the goals and time horizon of the endowment. I was tasked with putting together an investment committee specifically focused on the management of the portfolio. I brought in some seasoned individuals in a variety of areas, including institutional management, private equity, venture capital and family office investment management. For three years I served as the chair of this investment committee. After being asked to serve on the Utah State Board of Regents, I stepped down but continue to serve on the foundation board and investment committee. I also serve on the board of the Hale Centre Theatre (in Salt Lake) and American Indian Services. I’ve previously served on the Boards of the Stem Action Center and ConnectShare.