Utah Ambassadors Visit Program
In October 1996, Dr. Peterson attended a dedication service for the Mt. Timpanogos temple dedication where President James E. Faust talked about the success of the ambassador program. He thought it was in partial to fulfillment of Isaiah 2 and 3. Dr. Peterson was impressed with President Faust’s comments. The following day Dr. Peterson was visiting with President Merrill J. Bateman, President of Brigham Young University. He summarized what President Faust said and then asked President Bateman if BYU would like to pick up the baton at the end of the Utah statehood centennial year. He noted he had worked as a volunteer for the Utah Statehood Centennial Ambassadors Visit Program Committee and he could continue the same role if the other partners were interested and if BYU would provide a basic budget.
President Bateman told Dr. Peterson to give him a proposal for the program and for the budget. Delta Air Lines said they would give complimentary upgrades to ambassadors flying out of Washington, D.C. if BYU paid the full coach seat price. BYU received a 50% discount at Little America Hotel. Governor Leavitt said he would be willing to let the Governor’s Protective Service continue to be involved. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said they were interested in continuing to host ambassadors. President Bateman approved the proposal and allocated the money. The new program was called, Utah Ambassadors Visit Program. Some of the sponsors of the program are GOED, the Salt Lake City Chamber of Commerce, and the World Trade Center of Utah.
In total, the program has hosted more than 180 ambassadors from 93 countries. Fall 2009, the program had commitments from the ambassadors of Jordan, Egypt, Spain, Japan, and Russia. The program usually targets 3 ambassadors for fall (September, October, and November) and 3 ambassadors for winter (January, February, and March), but when the program gets a line-up like this, BYU is willing to accommodate the ambassadors’ schedules.
Beverly Campbell was replaced by Ann Santini, who is the wife of the former Nevada congressmen, James Santini. The Public and International Affairs Office of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Washington, D.C. is located in the Barlow Center in Georgetown where BYU houses its interns. The office assists in hosts four events a year where they invite ambassadors. The events include an annual picnic each fall hosted by Richard Marriott, the Washington, D.C. Temple lighting ceremony at Christmas time where an ambassador is invited to turn on the lights; the Marriott School of Management dinner in February or March with many prestigious alumni, and in April there is a luncheon for the wives of the ambassadors. Dr. Peterson generally attends the events and interacts with the ambassadors.
Under the Utah Ambassador Visits Program, Dr. Peterson sends the invitation signed by the President of Brigham Young University to Ann Santini. Ann will personally meet with the ambassador to presents the invitation. She presents the letter and Dr. Peterson follows up with contacting the Embassy to confirm the visit and prepare the itinerary. After the ambassador visits Utah, Ann will host a dinner and presents a photo album of pictures Dr. Peterson has taken during the ambassador’s visit to Utah. Ann usually invited one or two of the senators or congressmen to the dinner. During the dinner, the ambassador reflects on the visit and Ann gives them the photo album. Governor Leavitt, when he was Secretary Leavitt and living in Washington, D.C., has attended several dinners and he has also attended many of the picnics.
The focus of the program now is identifying key countries important to the State of Utah, the LDS Church, and BYU. The first countries identified were Canada and Mexico. The other countries are the United Kingdom, France, Spain, Russia, Germany, Ukraine, Italy, Egypt, Jordan, South Africa, China, South Korea, Japan, Thailand, Argentina, Chile and Australia. Any time there is a new ambassador from any of these countries in Washington, D.C., Dr. Peterson prepares an invitation for the ambassador to participate in the Utah Ambassador Visits Program.