SALT LAKE CITY — In honor of Women's History Month, Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski held the second-annual Deedee Corradini Women’s Leadership Awards Thursday, named after the city's first woman to serve as mayor.
Corradini served as Salt Lake City's mayor from 1992 to 2000. Some of her most noteworthy accomplishments include the role she played in bringing the 2002 Winter Olympic Games to Salt Lake City and successfully advocating for the TRAX light rail system. She died in 2015 at 70 years old.
The awards were created to honor and recognize the community's women leaders, Biskupski said.
“We want to highlight them so other young women can see themselves in their shoes someday,” Biskupski told the Deseret News. "By creating an event like this, we start telling the history of women in Utah and how they are leading and how they are making a difference here and that part of our own history is very valuable and very inspiring.”
The event comes just three days after Biskupski withdrew her name from the mayoral race.
Biskupski shared with the audience that this week had been difficult for her both personally and professionally. She addressed her recent decision and said that while she knew it was the right choice, it wasn't easy.
"Of course I thought about what it would say, especially to women, for the second female mayor of Salt Lake City, the woman in Deedee's shoes, to leave even when there was enough work to be done to fill another four years," she told the crowd.
She expressed gratitude for the outpouring of love and kindness she said she received, especially from women and the LGBTQ community, about her decision to drop out.
Five women were recognized at the event and three awards were handed out.
"As a known lover of the Utah Symphony, for which she served as chair, as a successful businesswoman prior to becoming mayor, and as a woman of faith and philanthropy, I know Deedee Corradini would be proud of all the women who are being honored today," she said.
Utah Venue Market founders Casey Chase and Remy Fowles received the Opportunity Builder award along with the market's event director, Ashlee Espinoza. Chase and Espinoza accepted the award Thursday.
"Women supporting women is everything," Chase said as she accepted the award.
The market is an all-women run business that strives to bring the local event industry together and promote local businesses, according to its website.
Victoria Petro-Eschler, the executive director of the Salty Cricket Composers Collective, received the Emerging Leader award. The music program offers free, after-school orchestra-based lessons to students at Title 1 schools.
Sen. Luz Escamilla, D-Salt Lake City, who announced her decision to run for mayor Wednesday on social media, introduced Petro-Eschler at the event. Escamilla has yet to file an official bid, but as of Thursday she was on track to be the only woman candidate.
"We all get inspired by her dedication to bring equity and justice for children," Escamilla said of Petro-Eschler. "She does it in a way that is not patronizing, she does it in a way that brings love and patience."
Petro-Eschler spoke about her love of music and the important role it can play in a child's life, saying it was her duty to ensure "the power of arts, the power of humanity is available to this next generation in an unrestricted way."
She also said she supports having a woman as the next mayor.
"Let's keep that woman thing going," she said.
The final award of the event was the Community Leader Award, given to the Right Rev. Carolyn Tanner Irish, the first woman in Utah ordained as a bishop in the Episcopal Church, and the fourth worldwide.
The Rev. Tanner Irish also serves as chairwoman of the board at O.C. Tanner.
"She has been an outspoken advocate for equality and compassion, leading campaigns to support minorities, ban guns from being brought into churches, and oppose making English the only (language) on government documents," a news release stated.
Biskupski cited several statistics pointing out disparities in women leadership across the state. She said only 24 percent of the Utah House and Senate are women, and 33 of the 243 Utah mayors are women.
She said she hopes whoever wins the upcoming election to replace her will continue the women's recognition event.
"We have a long way to go, my sisters, a very long way to go," she said. "I hope that moving forward you see the value in supporting one another."