Meet the Local First Utah Board of Directors
Betsy Burton, Board Co-Chair
Betsy Burton is co-owner of The King’s English Bookstore, founded in 1977 in Salt Lake City. Burton co-founded Local First Utah, and has served as its Board Chair since its inception. She was a co-founder of Vest Pocket Business Alliance of Salt Lake City and has worked on behalf of local business and community in Utah for decades. She serves on several boards and foundations, including the American Independent Booksellers Association (ABA), and the American Independent Business Alliance (AMIBA).
David Nimkin, Board Co-Chair
David Nimkin is the Southwest Regional Director of the National Parks Conservation Association, an organization dedicated to the protection of national parks, monuments and heritage sites. He is a co-founder of Local First Utah, as well as the founder of the Utah Microenterprise Loan Fund. Nimkin is the former State Director of the Utah Small Business Development Centers, and also served as the first Executive Director for Salt Lake Neighborhood Housing Services.
Leigh von der Esch, Treasurer
Leigh von der Esch recently retired from being the Director of the Utah Office of Tourism. She has worked as State Film Commissioner, Chief Administrative Officer for the Utah Department of Community and Economic Development, and was Chairman of the Sundance Film Festival Committee for 9 years. She was named one of Utah’s 100 Most Influential People in Business by Utah Business Magazine. She is currently a member of the College of Social and Behavioral Science Board for the University of Utah, and serves on the Advisory Board for the Utah Arts Festival.
Keith joined the board in 2012. Being so inspired by all the entrepreneurs he met through the organization, in early 2014 he started his own business a design & build studio focused on using upcycled components to create unique living accessories. Most recently he was the Marketing Director for Harmons. Prior to Harmons, he was the Vice-President of Classified Business Development at MediaOne. Having grown up in Michigan, he originally came to Utah in 1983 with the United States Air Force, and he now calls downtown Salt Lake City home. He has held management positions with Detroit Newspaper Agency, First Security Bank and First Interstate Bank.
Bob has played an instrumental role in Downtown Salt Lake for decades. One the central figures in the creation of the Downtown Alliance, Bob has also served as a chairmen of the cabinet of Downtown Rising, and lead efforts to generate support for Trax, Salt Lake City’s light rail system. Before arriving in Utah, Bob played college basketball at the University of Texas in Austin.
Jorge Fierro came to the U.S. from Mexico over 20 years ago, and in 1997 started Rico Mexican Market by selling pinto beans at the Downtown Farmer’s Market. Rico Foods now produces more than 125 different food products and distributes products across the state. Fierro was named Minority Business Man of the Year by the Small Business Administration and the Salt Lake Area Chamber of Commerce. Fierro has served on the boards of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the Salt Lake Business Advisory Council, among others.
Jocelyn Kearl is co-owner of Third Sun Productions, a web development company that has been serving nonprofits and small businesses in Utah since 2005. From her past work as development director for KRCL and a grantwriter, Jocelyn has experience in fundraising, message positioning, and marketing, and advises Local First as needed in these areas. She holds a master's degree in English from BYU. Although mostly raised in Utah, she spent several years after college in Los Angeles, Austin, and Boston prior to moving back to take advantage of the outdoors, better cost of living, and less traffic. She has been happy to find out that Salt Lake City increasingly offers great music, great local restaurants, and a progressive community.
Marci Milligan has more than 25 years experience in community planning, banking, secondary market financial services, small business and affordable housing development arenas on both local and national levels. She continues to work in the non- and for-profit arenas “cultivating” sustainable neighborhood driven projects in both urban and rural Utah. Marci’s knowledge of private and governmental resources has assisted numerous projects in coming to fruition and has resulted in expansion of local financial tools and resources essential in strengthening small businesses. She has served as a municipal planning commissioner and continues to volunteer her time on various non-profit boards which strive to improve the lives of all Utahns.
Sheridan Mordue is co-owner of Hip & Humble headquartered at 9th & 9th in Salt Lake City. Founded in 1999 in Sugarhouse as a high-end furniture store, she has since evolved her company into a women’s lifestyle boutique focusing on gift, home accessories and fashion. In 2007, Sheridan expanded her business to Bountiful and then Sandy neighborhood business districts. Her unique color driven and fun fashion business has been editorialized in many national, regional and local publications including a feature spread in Country Living Magazine (2006) and cover of Wasatch Woman (2009). Sheridan is currently serving as board secretary of the 9th & 9th Business District. You can find her at one of her shops, walking the streets of 9th & 9th, road biking, exploring canyons of Southern Utah or playing pickle ball with her family.
Originally from New Hampshire, Blake began cooking when she was a small child. By the time she was eight years old, she was preparing full meals for her family. Blake began working in the restaurant world at an early age and at the age of sixteen moved with her family to Flagstaff, Arizona. In her twenties Blake began cooking as a river chef, mostly on the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon, and continued to do this for many years. She also worked for Greenpeace, during which she helped with an anti-pesticide campaign that inspired her passion for organics, sustainability, and all things biochemically and genetically unaltered. While working as a river chef, she began another career: “extreme catering”—cooking in remote, isolated locations, including a deserted island in the Bahamas and the Amazon rain forest. She also opened a catering business in Flagstaff. As a practicing Buddhist, she was often asked to cook for Tibetan lamas, and this directed her relationship with food into one fused with spirituality and meaning. In the year 2000, the opportunity to own Hell’s Backbone Grill presented itself, and she moved to Boulder with her friend in cooking, Jen Castle.