Project Staff

Dr. Susan R. Madsen
Founder & Director, Utah Women & Leadership Project
Orin R. Woodbury Professor of Leadership and Ethics
Woodbury School of Business, Utah Valley University
(801) 863-6176 (office)

Dr. Susan R. Madsen is the Orin R. Woodbury Professor of Leadership & Ethics in the Woodbury School of Business at Utah Valley University. She is also the Founding Director of the Utah Women & Leadership Project. Susan has led efforts in Utah to get more women to graduate from college and to help more girls and women find their voices and become leaders. Professor Madsen and her team have written many Utah research and policy briefs, research snapshots, impact reports, newspaper editorials, and other resources. They host 20-30 events each year to support the mission of their work. Susan is also a well-known global scholar, authoring or editing six books and publishing hundreds of articles, chapters, and reports. She is a sought-after speaker in local, national, and international settings. For example, she has presented at the New York Times, Argentina Parliament Palace, House of Commons in England, Lithuania President's Palace, and NGO sessions at the United Nations. She serves on many nonprofit, community, and education boards and committees, including Silicon Slopes, Envision Utah, Better Days 2020, Real Women Run, United Way of Utah County, Utah Financial Empowerment Coalition, Junior League of Salt Lake, and more. Dr. Madsen received a bachelor's degree from BYU, masters from Portland State, and a doctorate from the University of Minnesota. She and her husband Greg are the proud parents of four adult children and two grandchildren. For more detailed information about Dr. Madsen, please see her detailed bio and her CV. For more information about her speaking, see the UWLP Speaking Request page and Madsen Global Leadership.







Robbyn Scribner
Assistant Director, Utah Women & Leadership Project
Utah Valley University

Robbyn Scribner is the Assistant Director for the Utah Women & Leadership Project at Utah Valley University, wearing a variety of hats to advance the mission of strengthening the impact of Utah girls and women. Robbyn has been the team lead for the Utah Women Stats Research Snapshots series, where she co-authored fourteen snapshots on various topics of interest surrounding Utah women, including poverty, labor force participation, domestic violence, and the gender wage gap. She also coordinates fundraising for the Project, and she is active in community outreach, frequently speaking and presenting on women's issues in various settings. Robbyn holds a Master's degree in English with an emphasis in composition and rhetoric from Brigham Young University, and a Bachelor's degree (also from BYU) in European Studies. She has a special interest in researching and writing about women and careers, highlighting the challenges women face in trying to balance work and family responsibilities, while advocating for creative solutions to advance women's professional wellbeing. 



Deirdre Miller
Coordinator, Utah Women & Leadership Project
Utah Valley University
(801) 863-5724 (office)

Deirdre Miller is the Utah Women & Leadership Project Coordinator where she manages projects, events, and coordinates with volunteers and ambassadors. She studied Communications Research and Business Management at Brigham Young University, where she helped conduct research on the global impact of social media. With a background in Digital Marketing and Content Management, Deirdre has several years of experience in growing digital communities and strategizing the best practices to reach targeted audiences. She enjoys the accessibility that digital communication has brought in creating communities. She also has experience in organizing international trade show events as well as local events in the Utah community. As a business owner and having worked in the private sector, Deirdre has fostered a strong desire to strengthen women in business and is honored to work with Dr. Madsen on the Utah and global initiatives focused on strengthening the impact of girls and women worldwide.



Heather Sundahl
Writer and Media Relations, Utah Women & Leadership Project
Utah Valley University

Heather Sundahl is the writer and media relations specialist for the Utah Women & Leadership Project at Utah Valley University. She holds a Master's degree in English as well as a Bachelor's degree in Humanities from Brigham Young University. Since 2014 she has been the President of Exponent II. Before taking on the helm she was an associate editor for the Exponent II. Heather also has many years of experience as a ESL instructor.




Sharosky Dalmasi
Graduate Assistant, Dr. Madsen & Utah Women & Leadership Project
Woodbury School of Business, Utah Valley University

Sharosky Dalmasi is the Utah Women & Leadership Project Graduate Assistant. She received her undergrad at the Woodbury School of Business at Utah Valley University in Business Management. Her background includes administration, business strategy, and operations management. Sharosky has worked in public service, serving the communities along the Wasatch Front. She is the first in her family to pursue a Graduate Degree and is a great advocate for women seeking a higher education and advancement in the community.






Dr. April Townsend
Research Fellow, Utah Women & Leadership Project

Dr. April Townsend is a Research Fellow focusing on research studies, literature reviews and data analysis. She has 30 years of extensive experience working with government organizations, where she has held leadership and top management positions for the last 21 years. Her focus has been on organizational effectiveness, leadership development, strategic leadership and financial accountability. Dr. Townsend has lead organizational initiatives and cultural change efforts that increased transparency and transformed operational systems.
April received her doctorate in education with an emphasis on organizational leadership from Northeastern University, where her dissertation research explored the journeys of women in top leadership roles within government organizations. Dr. Townsend is interested in bringing the theoretical aspects of leadership into practical application. She actively mentors and develops the leadership skills of the women and men with whom she works and has shared her broad experience and research through numerous trainings in the public sector on coaching and mentoring, effective leadership through developing strengths, change management, and social and emotional intelligence.Dr. Townsend is committed to diversifying the ranks of leadership through increasing the presence of women. She directed the development of an Employees' University training program and was recognized as one of Utah's 2016 American Graduate Champions for her mentorship efforts and for founding the Women's Leadership Forum, which provides women in local government an opportunity for leadership skill development. 

         april townsend

Wendy Fox Kirk
Research Fellow, Utah Women & Leadership Project

Wendy Fox Kirk, joined Weber State University in January 2013 and is a Management scholar in the Goddard School of Business & Economics. After earning her BSc in Human Psychology, at Aston University in England, she worked for a number of years in commercial social research before moving into academia to continue her interest in workforce development research in an academic setting. She returned to Aston to complete her MSc in Work Psychology & Business and to attain professional certification in psychometric testing (accredited by the British Psychological Society). In addition to her academic career, she ran her own management consultancy supporting the public service and not for profit sector in innovative service delivery and organizational development. Her research focuses on addressing issues of disadvantage with a particular focus on women's careers and the gendered organization. She is finishing her PhD in women's leadership journeys in Higher Education with the University of Birmingham, UK. She is a member of the Academy of Management and the Society for Human Resource Management.



Sara McPhee Lafkas

Sara McPhee Lafkas is an Assistant Professor of Social Work in the Department of Behavioral Science at Utah Valley University. She is also an independently licensed clinical social worker (LCSW). She earned a doctoral degree in Human Development and Psychology from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She previously obtained a master's degree in social work from the University of Washington and an undergraduate degree in psychology from UCLA. In addition, she completed a graduate certificate program in the treatment of traumatic stress at the Trauma Center in Brookline, MA. Her clinical experience includes working as a psychotherapist in private practice, LDS Family Services, and at college counseling and community mental health service centers. In her clinical practice, she has worked mainly with adult and adolescent clients who have varied concerns, including anxiety, depression, trauma, family relationships, self-esteem, spirituality, and professional transitions. Dr. McPhee Lafkas' dissertation focused on Latter-Saint Women who experienced the divorce of their parents in childhood. She has presented on her dissertation research at numerous conferences and has also presented on other topics related to mental health, including self-compassion practice, depression, and abuse. Dr. Lafkas is originally from California, where she started her career by working as an elementary school teacher and later as a child welfare specialist. She has taught multiple undergraduate and graduate level courses in the fields of social work and counseling. In her personal life, she is married and the mother of two active girls, ages 10 and 3. She enjoys traveling, having dinners out, theater, museums, movies, and continuing to learn.



Susan Perkins
Graduate Research Assistant, Utah Women & Leadership Project

Susan loves linking data analysis and research to organizational change. Her interests include public policy, mental health, sustainability, and optimizing people resources. Susan completed her undergraduate degree in Neuroscience at Brigham Young University. Further professional certifications were completed at the University of Utah in Human Resource Management and Energy Management at Salt Lake Community College. She saved the best for last by coming to Utah Valley University where she is completing the Master of Public Service. Susan has worked professionally in various sectors as a manager, analyst, and educator. She tries to stay engaged in the community by volunteering her time and skills to worthy projects. In addition to the Utah Women & Leadership Project, she's currently part of a team developing and building a townhome complex in Salt Lake City as a finalist in the U.S. Department of Energy's 2020 Build Challenge. When she's not engrossed in work, school, or volunteer projects, Susan loves watching professional tennis.





Bonnie Mortensen
UWLP Marketing Intern
Coordinator for Undergraduate Talent Sourcing - Woodbury School of Business

With 20-plus years of management experience - from a family owned and operated a group of restaurants in the south to the Assistant Director of a charter school - Bonnie has learned first-hand about the importance of diversity and team building in the workplace. Bonnie studied Graphic Design and Business at Henderson State University in Arkadelphia, Arkansas. While at HSU, Bonnie worked for the Small Business Developmental Center on such projects as Governor Round Tables, with then-Governor Bill Clinton. She organized free marketing seminars through the SBDC that offered educational opportunities for rural Arkansas business owners. Bonnie's career path in Utah began at Novell where she worked full time as a front-line tech specializing in Netware 286 and Netware 386. (She also interned in the marketing department on the team that created the marketing plan for Netware 386.) She was one of the first female, Certified Netware Engineers, and continued a specialized technical education through Novell University an onsite program developed to further the professional development of CNEs. Her love of working in education started during her time as a charter school administrator. Her time was spent implementing programs, such as the National School Lunch Program and Concurrent Enrollment (via UVU) as well as working to develop new educational opportunities for students utilizing local artists, musicians, community leaders, and scholars. Bonnie has been employed at UVU since 2012. She has enjoyed becoming more engaged on campus by serving on multiple committees and boards. She is currently an Academic Affairs Senator for PACE and also serves on the Policy Committee. Bonnie is also furthering her education at UVU and will graduate in Spring 2020 in a dual major degree with emphases in leadership and communications. Bonnie currently lives in Santaquin, Utah with her husband Ryan, 3 of their 4 children, and their 100lb Olde English Bulldogge, Maui.



Karen Deardeuff
UWLP Marketing Intern

Karen Deardeuff is in her senior year at UVU, majoring in Communications with an emphasis in Public Relations. Karen has held management positions in different industries and has seen the need for women in visible leadership roles. Seeing the lack of female representation has given Karen a passion to fight for gender equality. She is excited to work with the UWLP and work with a team that is focused on encouraging female leaders.



Spencer Heywood
UWLP Research Intern

Spencer is in his Junior year at UVU and is studying Construction Management, with plans to pursue his Masters in Business Administration. He also wrestles in the 157 lb. weight class on UVU's Division I wrestling team, and is currently a project manager for a roofing company that services Utah, Salt Lake, and Davis Counties, as well as areas along the Wasatch back. A well-rounded fellow, his interest in the Utah Women & Leadership Project came in taking a business leadership class from Dr. Madsen. He comes from a large, tight-knit, and mostly happy family, where he has been blessed with and seen the power of many top-notch women. He hopes to contribute his talents as a writer and a research specialist in the UW&LP's initiative to empower women statewide and across the globe.



Rachel Miller
UWLP Research Intern

Rachel is a Utahn, born and raised. She is in her final semester of undergraduate studies at UVU, majoring in Liberal Arts; she plans to attend law school and pursue a career in the public realm. Rachel is passionate about the Utah Women & Leadership Project because she has seen the lasting influence of strong women in every area of her life--from athletics, to education, at church, and in the workplace and the community. Unfortunately, she has also seen how the lack of women's participation and empowerment in society can cause a complacent attitude that inhibits progression. By promoting awareness of issues and then encouraging solutions with the UWLP, Rachel hopes to empower girls and women to tap into their potential and continue to change their lives, their community, and the world in great ways.