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Mayor Leach mingling with community members

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Women of Influence

Southern Utah's seven women mayors tackle community issues with dynamism

Donia Jessop of Hildale

Donia Jessop ran for mayor of Hildale because of her love for her community and its people.

She says, “We had a community to rebuild, and so I dove in.” She adds, “The things I love best about Hildale are our beautiful mountains surrounding us—and the people.” 

She is concerned about water, as Utah, being the second driest state in the U.S., is experiencing a drought.

Donia says, “If I had one wish, I would create a whole new water system and solve the water shortage situation.”

She still finds optimism in the local citizenry, and when talking about teamwork, she states, “The key to creating a good team is to find those whose values align with yours and surround them with the tools and support they need to do their job efficiently and to the very best of their ability."

Nanette Billings of Hurricane

Nanette Billings has been involved in her community all her life. Her first experience with leadership was running for student council in high school.

She says, “I was also selected to attend Girls State at Southern Utah University my junior year by the American Legion. What a blessing! It changed my life to participate in the elections held there. I fell in love with the American process and saw the way we keep liberties—by standing up and leading out. I ran for Hurricane City Council and was on the council two years before being elected mayor. 

She says she loves everything Hurricane has to offer, but her love is with the people. “The small-town charm is a real thing here.”

She would like to see more walking trails and infrastructure, but she believes it is the people who help solve the issues in a community. “People are the answer. People solve the problems.”

Mollie Halterman of Parowan

Mollie Halterman spent most of her life in a family business and in business for herself. She also completed a 10-year corporate stint as a regional manager for in the IT industry. When she moved to Parowan from the Tampa Bay area almost 20 years ago, she opened a hardwood door manufacturing company, Parowan Millworks, and then later, Gym on Main. After more than a decade of working alongside community members in various capacities and learning more about their goals for her town, she got involved. As a result of her involvement, she was encouraged to run for mayor of Parowan as a write-in.

“Each one of us is important and adds value to our communities and the organizations and groups in which we associate,” says Mollie. “The key is finding your place that aligns with what gets you super jazzed to walk out the door and then finding others who ignite and excite you to be your very best. There is so much we can do, and more importantly, so much we can do and accomplish together!"

Mollie believes the heritage and culture of Parowan is deep and rich with individuals who live the mantra “community before self.”

Pam Leach of Rockville

Pam Leach and her husband, Ron, fell in love with Rockville during their many backpacking and hiking trips in and around Zion National Park over the years. When it came time to retire, Pam said they felt lucky to find a beautiful piece of land in Rockville, moving from California, building a home and becoming full time residents in 1996.”

Pam’s background was in the field of real estate escrow and investment in California. Former mayor, Dan McGuire, was persistent in his encouragement for Pam to serve on the town council, and she later served as mayor when another former mayor, Tracy Dutson, resigned to relocate for business.

“I am honored that the residents of Rockville elected me as mayor two additional terms,” says Pam.

Pam says it is a constant challenge to manage the increasing numbers of visitors to Zion National Park who pass through Rockville, as well as those who choose to call southern Utah home. She hopes they will slow down, enjoy the views and the history, be good stewards of the land and its resources, and respect the lifestyle Rockville supports.

Barbara Bruno of Springdale

Barbara Bruno’s background is in sales and marketing, spending 45 years working for large corporations, such as Northwest Pipeline Corporation, DuPont, Milliken and Herman Miller, retiring from Herman Miller after almost 22 years of service. She earned an undergraduate business degree from Westminster College in Salt Lake City and an MBA from the University of Utah. She and her husband have owned their home in Springdale for nine years.

Barbara loves the natural beauty of the area, with stunning views of Zion National Park.

“I never get tired of waking up to my view of Mount Kinesava. The town is magical, even when crowded, and the town and its residents are charmingly eccentric. We love our visitors, and we hope they’ll honor the Zion National Park pledge to leave no trace and protect the canyon wall, rocks, trees, natural sounds, vegetation, soils and wildlife.” 

Barbara enthusiastically states, “It has become obvious to me that one person with passion and energy can make a big difference in a small town like Springdale.”

Michele Randall of St. George

Michele Randall was elected to St. George City Council because she wanted to be a voice for the residents of St. George. 

She says, “When former mayor, Jon Pike, resigned, and after a lot of thought, discussion with family and prayer, I chose to apply for the position.”

Michele feels the best things about St. George come from the people. She surrounds herself with the residents at numerous functions and engages in conversations wherever she goes, and she listens and responds to their concerns. Even if you send her a message on Messenger, she takes the time to respond. She also believes in surrounding herself with positive smart leaders.

Michele has grave concerns about the lack of water in this area. She says, “If I had a magic wand, we would have all the water we could possibly need!”

Jean Krause of Virgin

Jean Krause worked as an attorney in California before she and her husband moved to Virgin. While serving on the town council, she discovered her passion for municipal and public administration, and she completed a master’s degree in this field at Southern Utah University. 

Even after a decade of living in Virgin, Jean finds it a place of tranquility and calm; she relishes the slight breezes and the sound of the windchimes on her patio and the sound of the wind blowing through the desert sage. It is an idyllic setting, indeed.

“Even with the growth that is currently happening in Virgin, it is still a quiet and peaceful place,” Jean says.

Yet, she would like to see more development in Virgin to meet the needs of the residents, not just the tourists. She talks about a charming, walkable town with shops that meet the needs of Virgin’s residents.

“Virgin has no stores to walk to, no places to go and run into your neighbors, no sense of overall community. With careful and wise planning, Virgin could build that.”

Seven women mayors now serve their respective cities in Washington and Iron counties. Even with increased growth, they are passionate about their communities and see leadership opportunities and challenges. In fact, according to a recent U.S. Census report, Washington County is ranked the fastest growing metro area in the country.

  • Donia Jessop - Mayon of Hildale
  • Children are the future leaders
  • Nanette Billings - Mayor of Hurricane
  • Mayor Billings with Hurricane City Youth Council
  • Mayor Halterman shares what it is like to be major with the community as recognizes the importance of spreading the joy in leadership as interesting and fun!
  • Pam Leach - Mayor of Rockville
  • Mayor Leach mingling with community members
  • Barbara Bruno - Mayor of Springdale
  • Mayor Bruno meeting community members
  • Michele Randall - Mayor of St. George
  • Mayor Randall speaking to City of St. George
  • Jean Krause - Mayor of Virgin
  • Mayor Krause engages in the community
  • Mollie Halterman - Mayor of Parowan