The USTAR Governing Authority is a consortium of business and education leaders from within the state that lead and direct the organization’s financing, research efforts, regional development, and long-term planning. It consists of 10 members appointed to four-year terms by the Governor, the Speaker of the House, the Senate President, and the Commissioner of Higher Education. The Governing Authority is a group of business and community leaders with experience in invention, entrepreneurship, financial capital, university research, and running and growing companies. It is charged with promoting and encouraging the economic, commercial, financial, industrial, agricultural, and civic welfare of the state. The board also advises Governor’s Office of Economic Development staff on the development, attraction, retention and expansion of businesses, industries and commerce within the state.
The Governing Authority generally meets on the first Thursday of the month at the USTAR HQ Office, 60 East South Temple, 3rd Floor, Salt Lake City, Utah 84111.
Meeting Minutes and Agendas may be found on the Utah Public Notice Website
(To find notices or minutes, please use the Advanced Search option and search on Keyword: USTAR and a date range)
Sector President of L3 Technologies Space and Power Sector
Susan D. Opp – Chair
Susan D. Opp is Corporate Senior Vice President of L-3 Communications Corporation and President of L-3’s Communication Systems Group, providing a variety of sophisticated communications and encryption products and services forU.S.and foreign military customers.
In 1986, Opp began her career as an associate engineer with Sperry Univac and has held positions of increasing responsibility in engineering, product and business development, and program management at L-3’s CS-West division. Her most recent position was as Vice President of Strategic Development. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science Electrical Engineering from South Dakota School of Mines & Technology and has a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from the University of Utah.
Executive Director of Governor’s Office of Economic Development
Val Hale – Vice-Chair
Before accepting the position as executive director, Hale served for two years as president and CEO of the Utah Valley Chamber of Commerce, leading efforts in business community issues— including regional economic development and branding initiatives.
Prior to serving in the chamber, Hale was vice president (2010-2012) for university relations at Utah Valley University (UVU), overseeing legislative affairs, marketing and public, media and community relations. From 2006-2010, Hale worked as advancement vice president at the university, responsible for fund raising and all university external activities. During this time, Hale played a key role in transitioning Utah Valley State College into Utah Valley University. Hale started at UVU as the assistant vice president for external affairs (2005-2006), where he served as legislative liaison and oversaw community relations and economic development activities.
Hale received his bachelor’s degree in public relations in 1981 and a master’s degree in communications in 1987—both from BYU. Hale worked as a reporter at the Daily Herald from 1981-1982, covering business, government and BYU.
Utah State Treasurer
David Damschen graduated in 1990 from the University of Washington with a B.A. in Finance, and is a member of the University’s chapter of Beta Gamma Sigma. He is a past President of the Association for Financial Professionals of Utah (a treasury industry association), and recently served for four years as an Executive Board Member and Chair of the Audit & Finance Committee of St. Anne’s Center, a homeless shelter in Ogden.
In the winter, David spends most weekends at Powder Mountain “working” as a member of its volunteer ski patrol, with his wife and two youngest children in tow. He is also the Outdoor Emergency Care (“OEC”) Program Supervisor for the National Ski Patrol’s Intermountain Division.
President, CEO and co-founder of InnoSys
Jennifer Hwu, Ph.D
Jennifer Hwu received her Ph.D. degree from UCLA. She is the founder and has been the President/CEO of InnoSys, Inc. since its incorporation in 2000. She was a faculty member of the Department of Electrical Engineering at the University of Utah from 1990-2004. She worked for TRW, Electronics and Technology Division as a member of Technical Staff during 1989 and 1990. She has also consulted for many companies including E-Systems, Micron Technology, and Hughes. Hwu received many prestigious technical achievement awards including the Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Award and Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers Individual Achievement award. She also received the US White House Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) and was named a US White House Presidential Faculty Fellow (PFF). On the business side, she received many awards including the Technology Entrepreneur award from the Women Tech Council; Outstanding Business Owner award from the Asian Chamber of Commerce; and Woman Business Owner of the Year award from the National Association of Women Business Owners.
Co-Chair of Education First, Education Policy Advisor to Prosperity 2020
Richard Kendell, former commissioner of the Utah System of Higher Education and a retired district superintendent, also served as Southern Utah University’s interim president during their search for a new president in 2013.
He has a 35-year professional career, highlighted by his time as the commissioner of the USHE. He was an associate dean for two different schools at Utah. He was also the deputy to Governor Michael O. Leavitt for public education, higher education and economic development, among other various positions throughout his career.
He earned a Bachelor of Science in English at Weber State, then a Master’s degree and Ph.D. in Leadership and Policy at the University of Utah. He has worked as a high school English teacher and as a faculty member and associate dean in both the College of Education and the Graduate School at the University of Utah. He served as Superintendent of Davis School District in Farmington, Utah and as Utah Associate Superintendent of Public Instruction. Richard has also worked in private industry as research and development director for WICAT Educational Systems and as a project manager for hospital and health care facilities for the Boyer Company.
On a more personal level Richard and his wife Joan are the parents of four married children. Children and spouses, with one exception, hold degrees from the University of Utah. They have 12 grandchildren. Based on Utah logo wear alone there is little doubt that these grandchildren will follow in their parents ( and grandparents) footsteps at the University of Utah.
Corporate Vice President, Cardiac Surgery Systems Edwards Lifesciences
Rich Lunsford has been corporate vice president, cardiac surgery systems since January 2012 and previously served as vice president and general manager, cardiac surgery systems since joining the company in February 2011.
Lunsford has more than 25 years of experience in the medical device industry, including extensive experience in global sales and marketing. Before joining Edwards, Lunsford was president and CEO of Anulex Technologies, a Minnesota-based manufacturer of minimally invasive technologies used during spinal surgery. He has also served as president/CEO of Acorn Cardiovascular, president of commercial operations at ev3 and has held leadership positions at Scimed Life Systems/Boston Scientific, Allergan Medical Optics and Spinetech Inc. Lunsford has been a board member for Acorn Cardiovascular Inc, Anulex Technologies, Endius Inc, and Tutogen Medical. He received his bachelor’s degree in multinational business operations from Florida State University.
President & CEO of the World Trade Center Utah
Derek Miller is the President and CEO of the World Trade Center Utah, an organization dedicated to expanding international business for the State of Utah. Prior to his current position, Miller served as Chief of Staff to Governor Gary Herbert, overseeing the Governor’s Office, the Governor’s Cabinet and state operations. He has also served as Deputy Director of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED) where he was responsible for recruiting new businesses to the state and helping existing Utah businesses to expand. While at GOED, Miller supervised the International Trade and Diplomacy Office and the Rural Development Office. He has also served as Director of the Utah Division of Real Estate.
Before moving back to his home state of Utah, Miller worked in Washington D.C. for the U.S. House of Representatives as legal counsel and for Arthur Andersen as a management consultant. He is a graduate of the J. Reuben Clark Law School at Brigham Young University, and also holds a Master of Public Administration from the University’s Romney Institute of Public Management.
Heather Zynczak is a data-driven, growth marketer with more than 20 years of experience in technology. As CMO of Pluralsight, Heather is focused on leading a data-centric marketing organization that delivers real qualitative results. She spends her time driving go-to-market strategy and increasing brand visibility for the company’s technology learning platform. Prior to joining Pluralsight, Heather served as CMO of Domo where her marketing expertise and passion for high-energy environments supported the company’s revenue growth from $0-$100 million, achieving 100 percent year-over-year growth. She has held executive positions at some of the world’s largest enterprise technology companies, including SAP and Oracle. She has also led teams at several Silicon Valley startups and served as a business consultant for top firms, including Accenture, The Boston Consulting Group and Booz Allen Hamilton.
Heather is a well-known thought leader whose writing has appeared in Fast Company, Forbes, Fortune, Inc. and other high-profile publications. She actively mentors other businesswomen, was named one of 30 Women to Watch by Utah Business magazine in 2014, and has been recognized by the Women Tech Awards for Professional Excellence. She holds an MBA from The Wharton School.