Alan and Karen Ashton Honored as “Contemporary Pioneers”

Contributed By Casey Adams, Church News staff writer

  • 23 February 2017

Alan and Karen Ashton accept the Pioneer in Leadership Award presented by the Brigham Young University Management Society during a gala held February 15, 2017.  Photo by Glen Ricks, Glen Ricks Photography.

Article Highlights

  • Alan and Karen Ashton were honored with the annual Pioneer in Leadership Award.
  • Brother and Sister Ashton founded Thanksgiving Point as a way to give back to the community.

The Brigham Young University Management Society, Utah Valley Chapter, honored Alan C. and Karen J. Ashton during the 9th Annual Pioneer in Leadership Award Gala scholarship fundraiser held on February 15.

The award recognizes individuals who are “contemporary pioneers” in their communities, with past recipients that include President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, LaVell Edwards, Glenn Beck, Dr. Stephen R. Covey, and Bill and Donna Marriott, to name a few.

Brother Ashton cofounded the WordPerfect Corporation after serving as a professor of computer science at BYU for 14 years. In 1994, Novella Inc. acquired WordPerect. The next year, Brother and Sister Ashton founded in Lehi, Utah, Thanksgiving Point, a farm, garden, and museum complex with a restaurant, deli, gift shop, theaters, and other recreational features that appeal to families.

“We wanted to create something for the people around us,” Sister Ashton said. “We’ve been blessed financially and with a large family. We wanted to give something back to the community and the families in our area.”

Sister Ashton, a recipient of the Senator Arthur B. Watkins Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Cultural Arts, also is credited for establishing the Timpanogos Storytelling Festival, one of Thanksgiving Point’s most popular annual events.

The award sculpture was created by New Zealand artist Leroy Transfield and depicts two pioneers diligently pressing forward as they put their shoulders to the wheel of a wagon.

The artist wanted to depict “how the human spirit can overcome all obstacles through tenacity, hard work, teamwork, and great leadership, both individually and as a group,” according to the artist biography in the event program.

The BYU Management Society works to be of service to the community and provides scholarships for outstanding local students attending the BYU Marriott School of Business and the Utah Valley University Woodbury School of Business.

Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve, at left, visits with Pioneer in Leadership Award honoree Karen Ashton during the award gala presented by the Brigham Young University Management Society held February 15, 2017. Photo by Glen Ricks, Glen Ricks Photography.