Other forerunners to the Utah Statehood Centennial Ambassador Visits Program: Franz Kolb and Dale Ensign
Although the Utah Statehood Centennial Ambassador Visits Program was established in 1995 for the 1996 statehood centennial year, there were several people who had blazed the trail and thus contributed to the success of the program. One person was Franz Kolb who worked for the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED). Born in Austria, Kolb did a lot of the international hosting for GOED. At that time, there was international interest in the IT development in Utah. When ambassadors came to Utah with their trade representatives to visit IT companies, particularly Word Perfect and Novel, Kolb would often call Dr. Erland Peterson of Brigham Young University and ask if the visiting ambassador could tour the university campus. Dr. Peterson would arrange the visit and the ambassador would have lunch with faculty and students from his home country, visit with the BYU President, and give a lecture at the David M. Kennedy Center for International Studies. Kolb’s work contributed to the design of the Ambassador Visits Program. GOED was a major partner in the Utah Statehood Centennial Ambassador Visits Program and continues to be an important partner today.
Dale Ensign was another major contributor in laying the foundation for ambassador visits to Utah. In the 1980s Ensign worked for Earl Holding and the Sinclair Oil Corporation as a lobbyist in Washington D.C. Shortly after his arrival Ensign was asked by his church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), to be the Director of Public Relations for the Eastern States. Holding knew how committed Ensign was to his church callings and asked Ensign to hire somebody to help him with his church calling, so Ensign could stay focused on his role as a lobbyist. Holding authorized Sinclair to pay the salary for that person. Beverly Campbell was hired.
This occurred shortly after the U.S. had reestablished formal relations with the People’s Republic of China. Campbell and Ensign were able to bring the new Chinese ambassador to visit Utah. The Chinese ambassador met the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, became acquainted with the Church’s humanitarian work, and lectured at Brigham Young University (BYU). The LDS Church then began a public relations program with all foreign ambassadors posted in Washington, D.C. When Ensign returned to Utah, the LDS Church hired Campbell to continue her work with ambassadors.
The Utah Statehood Centennial Ambassador Visits Program was a natural complement to GOED’s work with foreign ambassadors, to the LDS Church’s ambassador relations program, and to BYU’s hosting of foreign ambassadors to give student lectures. The ambassadors were complimentary about Utah. They were amazed by the fluency and linguistic ability of the Utahns to speak their language. Steve Studdert drew on the experience of these programs to design the Ambassador Visits Program.
GOVERNOR’S OFFICE OF ECONOMIC DEVELOPMNET (GOED)