Showcase Community Award

In 1994, we began recognizing the excellence of individuals in their service to our community through their volunteer speaking engagements or support programs that require oral discourse. Often these acts of service are quietly made without soliciting attention to the generous contributor. These distinguished awards are generally given annually as the Donald C. Sloan Community Speaker Award or the Donald C. Sloan Community Service Award.

2016 recipient of the BYU Donald C. Sloan Community Service Award is G. Kevin Jones: 

Dr. G. Kevin Jones established an endowment for the speech program in 2006 to honor his mother’s, Marie Clegg Jones, lifetime accomplishments and service.  Now, a decade later, we wish to honor him for his faithful attendance to the biannual speech showcase, his enthusiastic support of the public speaking students, and his increased financial contributions to the speech program, through the Marie Clegg Jones Endowment.  While he is humorous in his remarks about his donations, his passion for awarding the students is strong.  We thank him wholeheartedly for his example of giving and his desire for the students to succeed

sorensen%20rodger2015 recipient of the BYU Donald C. Sloan Community Service Award is Rodger D. Sorensen: 

We are pleased to honor Rodger with the Donald C. Sloan Community Service Award for his quiet but profound acts of service given the past 13 years to the BYU Public Speaking Program. In 2002, Rodger became the fulltime faculty advisor for public speaking as it transitioned from the Communications Department to the Theatre and Media Arts Department. Rodger has always been a strong advocate of the speech program and continues his support as the program moves to the Student Development Department Fall Semester 2015. Rodger mentored the speech faculty in leadership, curriculum, management, teaching, and spirit.  He is known by all for his sincere, encouraging, Christ-like demeanor, and his intimate, confident support of each instructor and student. His contributions to the speech program have been critical to its growth and strength.

Dr. Rodger D. Sorensen is a Professor of Theatre and Media Arts and serves as Associate Dean in the College of Fine Arts and Communications at Brigham Young University. He served as the Chair of the Theatre and Media Arts Department from 2004-2010. He graduated from BYU with a master’s degree in Speech and Dramatic Arts in 1972. Before coming to BYU as a faculty member in 1996, Sorensen taught at the College of Eastern Utah from 1974-1979 and at Ricks College (BYU-Idaho) from 1979-96, serving as the Theatre Department Chair for the latter ten years. During his first years as a professor at BYU, he completed his doctorate degree at the University of Texas at Dallas (1999). He has directed over a hundred theatre productions. He worked every summer on the Hill Cumorah Pageant near Palmyra, New York, from 1978 to 2004, where he served as Artistic Director starting in 1997. Sorensen specializes in teaching Directing Theory and Practice for the stage. He has also taught introduction to theatre, readers’ theatre, forensics, public speaking, and various acting classes. As the TMA Department Chair, he was invited to present a speech at one of BYU’s weekly campus devotionals in 2008. He was a 2011 recipient of the SCERA Star Award for his significant contributions in enriching the communities and citizens of Utah Valley through the arts. In 2015, he received the Dedicated Service to College/University Education Award from the Utah Theatre Association (UTA) when it was hosted at BYU.

2014 recipient of the BYU Donald C. Sloan Community Speaker Award is Al Carraway:


Al Carraway, who called herself  ’the tattooed Mormon,’ has broken the stereotypical mold of sharing the gospel by reaching out across the Internet through videos, tweets, Facebook and  her blog, as well as through her numerous speaking engagements about her experiences.

Al was baptized a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints over four years ago after two Mormon missionaries met her in New York. She willingly shares her conversion story with many through speaking engagements and online technology.

Carraway is know for her upbeat messages that inspire thousands in person and online.  Through her experiences she discovered that there is “opposition in all things” (2 Nephi 2:11). She lost friends, started having problems with her family, and even struggled with members in the Church that judged her because of her tattoos. Still, she pressed forward knowing that “the Lord seeth not as man seeth for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.” (Samuel 16:7)

Carraway’s influence on the youth and adults in our community, and beyond, is inspiring. Her use of modern technology connects her to a wide and diverse audience with whom she willingly shares her testimony. Her example of reaching out with her voice to the world makes her a perfect recipient for the annual BYU Sloan Speech Community Speaker Award.  Carraway follows instinctively what President Hinckley admonished all BYU students to do, “You are good. But it is not enough just to be good. You must be good for something. You must contribute good to the world. The world must be a better place for your presence. And the good that is in you must be spread to others. … But in this world so filled with problems, so constantly threatened by dark and evil challenges, you can and must rise above mediocrity, above indifference. You can become involved and speak with a strong voice for that which is right…. .you cannot simply … let the world drift along its aimless way. It needs your strength, your courage, your voice in speaking up for those values that can save it… find expression to improve the family, the community, the nation, even the world of which you will be a part.”  (Hinckley 1996 BYU Devotional Address).

We look forward to having Al Carraway as our guest at the Winter 2014 Donald C. Sloan Speech Showcase!

rebeccacressmanOur 2013 recipient of the Donald C. Sloan Community Service Award – Rebecca Cressman

Rebecca graduated in Communications from BYU in 1988. She returned as the News Director for KBYU-FM in the late 1990s. There she oversaw the News and Information multi-media features on BYU Television, Classical 89, and BYU Radio where she developed an award-winning student radio newsroom and managed both professional and student productions for television and radio.

A native of San Diego, Rebecca spent much of her childhood traveling back and forth between Baja Mexico and California. She has lived all over North and South America including Saskatechewan, Canada, Santa Cruz, Bolivia, Texas, Wisconsin and Vermont.

It was in Texas that Rebecca began a career in broadcasting. In the years since, she has been busy raising three sons, reporting for public and commercial television, and working in corporate and commercial radio. In 2005, Rebecca hosted the Spanish/English bilingual gardening series HomeGrown for BYU Television. A former KSL News Radio Anchor, Rebecca was a morning show radio host for KSFI/FM100.3 and is now the Mid-day On-Air Personality and Public Affairs Producer. She was featured in Utah Valley Magazine’s Fab 50 for her excellent work in the broadcasting world. She loves working for the radio and connecting with people through her talk show. She hopes “to spread positivity through the airways.” She also currently hosts the Living Essentials radio and television series for BYU Broadcasting.

Rebecca has been and continues to be actively involved in our community calling attention to needs, participating in fundraisers, and racing for cures.

Dianthomas2012 recipient of the Donald C. Sloan Community Speaker Award is Dian Thomas  Dian is a dynamic, professional, entertaining speaker and alumni of BYU. We were privileged to hear from her about her amazing career and how she went from amateur presenter to quickly conquering television, radio, magazines, newspapers, books, and the internet.

Dian Thomas was blessed with the good fortune to be born and raised in breathtaking southern Utah where her father was a forest ranger.  Dian’s family gave her the opportunity to learn camping activities, outdoor cooking techniques and many other skills for creating fun over a campfire and in the wilderness. Dian took those skills and with determination moved onward to bless the world. The skills she mastered led to her write her BYU master’s thesis and then her first book, Roughing It Easy which sold more than a million copies.  She appeared on NBC’s Tonight Show with Johnny Carson which propelled her into the national media scene, where she became a regular on NBC’s Today Show for eight years. Tom Brokaw, NBC’s news anchor, said, “Dian made her network television debut on NBC’s Today Show and quickly became one of our most popular featured performers. Dian has some of the most spectacular ideas you can possibly imagine.” She has now written nineteen books and made thousands of personal appearances with her innovative “live demonstrations”.  That campfire Dian lit years ago in the southern Utah forests of her youth is still burning bright and bringing warmth and light to millions. It was a privilege to have her speak to us. Please enjoy an excerpt of her presentation below.

Enjoy this video introduction of Dian:

Video Clip of Dian Thomas’s showcase presentation coming soon.

2012 recipient of the Donald C. Sloan Community Service Award

Mike Schlappi was rewarded with the 2012 Donald C. Sloan Community Service Award. As a a master of the impossible, Mike inspires, encourages, and motivates from what many would consider a disadvantage—a wheelchair. He has taken a personal tragedy and turned it into a platform for inspiring others.

Courageous and ingenious, Mike has figured out to make his wheelchair a tool for triumph. He’s not only speedy and agile, he’s a true champion.  His can-do spirit has taken him everywhere he has wanted to go. He served a full-time mission in Ventura, California, managed the BYU basketball team, graduated from BYU, married his sweetheart, Tami, and competed in the Olympics. But that’s just the beginning of his amazing life of service.

Mike has taken his message all over the world, reminding each audience of the internal strength they have within in his powerful keynote address, “Just because you can’t stand up, doesn’t mean you can’t stand out.” Mike has exemplified excellence in every aspect of his business and community service, bringing countless accolades and the admiration of all. He not only encourages greatness, he demonstrates it daily.

2011 recipient of the Donald C. Sloan Community Speaker Award

The 2011 recipient, Peter Vidmar,  is a dynamic and powerful speaker. Peter, the highest scoring American gymnast in Olympic history, has helped people throughout the country realize and fulfill their own potential. He does much more than just speak about his experiences, he inspires and entertains his audiences through performing pommel horse routines and discussing important life lessons that listeners can apply to life.  More importantly, Peter exemplifies what Quintilan said, vir bonus, dicendi peritus “the good man speaking well” We were honored to have him here to receive this award and inspire our students.

The winner of numerous national and international titles, Peter finished his successful career at the 1984 Olympic Games. As the USA men’s gymnastics team captain, he led his teammates to America’s first ever team gold medal with their stunning upset victory over the defending world champions, the People’s Republic of China. He went on to win the silver medal in the individual all-around competition (the first American to have won an Olympic All-Around medal), and with a perfect score of 10, he captured the gold medal on the pommel horse. Peter continues to contribute to the Olympic movement today. He is the Chairman of the Board of USA Gymnastics, the national governing body of gymnastics in the United States. He has served as the Co-Chairman of the US Olympic Committee Summer Sports Summit, an annual series of workshops designed to prepare America’s medal hopefuls to win gold in future Olympics.

Peter married his best friend Donna (former captain of the UCLA women’s gymnastics team) and together they have five children. Although Peter graduated from UCLA, he has strong ties to the BYU community through family; with two brothers and two sisters who graduated from BYU, plus 4 children who attend or graduated from BYU and his youngest daughter plans to attend after completing high school.

Peter has served in the LDS church as a Sunday School teacher, assistant scoutmaster, stake director of public affairs, ward mission leader, bishop, and currently serves as second counselor in the stake presidency of the Santa Margarita California Stake.

We enjoyed hearing his inspiring message at the showcase.

2008 recipient of the Donald C. Sloan Community Speaker Award: Barbara Smith
The 2008 recipient of the Donald Sloan Speaker Award is Barbara Smith. A Utah native Barbara began her broadcasting career at the age of 17 at KLVR radio in Heber City, Utah. Her early interest in communications led her to Brigham Young University where she earned a bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism and an associate degree in education. She has since worked as a reporter and anchor for KSL radio, KIFI television in Idaho Falls, and as a backup anchor for another television station in Salt Lake City. Barbara joined the ABC 4 news team in October, 1990 as a Good Morning Utah anchor. She has also worked as weekend anchor and reporter during her many years at ABC 4. In January, 2001 she joined Randall Carlisle weekdays at 5:00 & 5:30 pm. Barbara finds public service rewarding and is currently a spokesperson for the Muscular Dystrophy Association and a volunteer for the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts of America. Barbara is a strong supporter of BYU and its mission. It is an honor to have Barbara here tonight.

Retirement Recognition: Brenda Butterfield
Brenda retired in 2008 after 33 years of service to BYU students and faculty. Brenda Butterfield has been employed with BYU since 1975. She earned her B.A. degree at BYU in Interpersonal and Speech Communications and her M.P.A. degree in the Marriott School of Management with an emphasis in Public Administration. As supervisor for the Fine Arts and Communications Advisement Center, Brenda has mentored thousands of students. Her love for her students and belief in the value of speaking and interpersonal skills led Brenda to teach the public speaking class in 1991. Brenda was instrumental in keeping the public speaking course as a service to the BYU community when it transitioned from Communications to TMA. She has received various awards for her outstanding service to the students and departments she serves, including the Staff Excellence Award and the President’s Appreciation Award. Brenda has helped coordinate the TMA speech activities and faculty for the past 18 years. She has also mentored the most diversified group of speech students in the Independent Study Program. Now that Brenda is retiring she will do other things she enjoys, like golfing and creating pottery! But knowing Brenda, she will continue to mold and mentor the youth and future college students. Thank you Brenda for your invaluable service to us individually and to the speech program!

Donald C. Sloan Community Service Award recipients

• April 2007 – Dr. Merrill F. Frost
• April 2006 – Marie Clegg Jones
• December 2005 – Helen Bateman
• April 2003 – Cindy Richards
• April 2001 – Gordon Whiting
• April 1999 – Susan Easton Black
• April 1998 – Laura Blanchard
• December 1997 – David P. Forsyth
• April 1996 – Judge Kay A Lindsay
• November 1995 – J. Lavar Bateman
• December 1994 – Dr. J. Douglas Gibb

Donald C. Sloan Community Speaker Award recipients

• December 2008 – Barbara Smith
• December 2007 – Emily Jensen
• December 2002 – Marion Bentley
• December 1999 – Brad Wilcox
• December 1998 – Ed J. Pinegar
• April 1997 – Mary Ellen Edmunds
• December 1996 – Les Newren
• April 1995 – John Bytheway


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