Leaders Outline Transition Plans For Utah’s Governor, Lieutenant Governor

Nov 5, 2020, 1:59 PM | Updated: 2:05 pm

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Governor-elect Spencer Cox and his running mate Lt. Governor-elect Diedre Henderson made a special announcement at the Utah Capitol Thursday as they begin transitioning into their new roles.

Gov. Gary Herbert began the special event inside the Gold Room by thanking the people of Utah and pledging his confidence in the new administration.

“I just want to thank the people of Utah for the opportunity I’ve had to be governor these last 11½, before that 4½ years as lieutenant governor,” Herbert said. “It’s been a great run for me and it’s been a great run this last decade for the people of Utah.”

Cox and Henderson will start their new roles Jan. 4.

Herbert said unlike what is often seen on a national level with divisiveness, Utah is different and he has full faith in this new team moving forward. He said he intends to make sure they have a smooth transition to hit the road running.

Cox has served with Herbert the last seven years and calls it an honor of a lifetime.

“I’m grateful for the example he has set, for the things he has taught me, and for this opportunity,” Cox said. “I will have to try, despite my inadequacies, to fill his very large shoes. Governor, thank you so much for your sacrifice and your sacrifice to the State of Utah. Sen. Henderson and I, or shall I say Lt. Governor-elect, are humbled to be here today.”

Henderson also spoke and said their hope is to accomplish three critical things: First, finding the best and brightest to serve along side with them. Second, to take a fresh look at each of Utah’s state government agencies. Third, to provide recommendations related to major policy priorities, like education.

In a statement, the Office of the Lieutenant Governor announced additional volunteers who will be involved with the transition as well as two key staff positions:


Cox announced two key staff positions. Jon Pierpont, former executive director of the Utah Department of Workforce Services, will be appointed into the joint role of chief of staff and chief operating officer beginning in January. Jennifer Napier-Pearce, former executive editor of The Salt Lake Tribune, will be appointed as senior advisor to the governor and director of communications.

“Jon and Jennifer are talented individuals who are dedicated to the ideals Utahns hold dear. They have the experience and judgment needed to lead our team into the future, and to confront head on the challenges we face as a state,” said Cox. “They are the right people for these important leadership roles. I can’t wait for them to get to work for Utah.”


Cox announced he has been working with a small group of volunteers to coordinate an effective transition process.

Lynne Ward, former deputy chief of staff for former Utah Gov. Olene Walker, and Steve Starks, CEO of the Larry H. Miller Group of Companies, will serve as co-chairs of the transition effort.

Other members include Austin Cox, Natalie Gochnour and Rich McKeown.

Cox and Henderson also announced that they are assembling a team of more than 100 community leaders with broad expertise to review all state government agencies and provide recommendations related to major policy priorities, including education and public health.

Leading and participating in various committee efforts are Pamela Atkinson, Bonnie Jean Beesley, Mark Bouchard, Jeff Burningham, Lisa-Michele Church, Amanda Covington, Sophia DiCaro, Kristen Edwards, Francine Giani, Mia Love, Susan Madsen, Crystal Maggelet, Lavanya Mahate, Steve Neeleman, Val Oveson, Jon Pike, Lester Rojas, Byron Russell, Aimee Winder Newton, Heidi Walker and Thomas Wright. Others will be enlisted over the next several days.

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Leaders Outline Transition Plans For Utah’s Governor, Lieutenant Governor