Nine Star Award Winners To Be Honored at 12th Annual Evening of Stars Gala at SCERA Center for the Arts

Contact: SCERA, (801) 225-ARTS, April Berlin (x. 1011) or Adam Robertson (x. 1014)

Nine Star Award Winners To Be Honored at 12th Annual Evening of Stars Gala at SCERA Center for the Arts

(Orem, Utah) – Those who have made significant contributions to the arts in a variety of categories will be recognized for their achievements in enriching the communities and citizens of Utah at the 12th Annual Star Awards held Saturday, March 11, 2017 at the SCERA Center for the Arts in Orem.  

Singer, entertainer, America’s Got Talent alumni and YouTube sensation Alex Boyé will receive the night’s biggest award — The 2017 Star Award.  Sara Lee Gibb will receive the Lifetime Achievement honor.  Awards will also be given to Chris Clark for theatre, Mark Philbrick for visual arts, Dr. Marden Pond for music, BYU Cougarettes and director Jodi Maxfield for dance, Nu Skin as Friend of the Arts, Heritage School for Advocate of the Arts, and Shari Woodward for volunteerism.    

“We recognize that the scope of talent and commitment to the arts in Utah is tremendous, and the Star Awards are a way of calling attention to their achievements and applaud their talent and dedication,” says Adam J. Robertson, SCERA President & CEO. “The challenge of the nominating committee is in choosing from an amazing array of people, which is the kind of challenge every arts organization should have.”

Storyteller, puppeteer and performer Mark Pulham will host the awards, and may even break out his puppet friends for some lighthearted fun.  The awards are interspersed with live entertainment, and will follow an elegant dinner by the UVU Culinary Arts and a silent and live auction. 100% of the proceeds from the evening will support SCERA’s non-profit charitable Endowment for the Arts.

Each honoree will be given a plaque and make a short acceptance speech. A video tribute for each will be shown at the award ceremony, featuring friends, family and associates speaking on the attributes of each honoree and their contributions to the arts.  

The general public is invited to attend the Gala and Star Awards, and the following options are available:  1)  Dinner, silent and live auctions, and VIP seating for awards and entertainment is $95/person or a table of ten for $950  2)  Awards and entertainment only for $10.  Reservations are required, and may be made by calling SCERA at (801) 225-ARTS or online at

Bios on each award recipient follow:


2017 Star Award

Boye’s musical journey began during his teens years in the Tottenham neighborhood of London, where he was influenced by Motown and soul greats like Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, James Brown and Otis Redding. He launched his professional career in 1995 as lead singer of the European boy band Awesome. The band won a competition on London’s largest radio station, signed to Universal Records Europe and released three top ten pop singles from their debut album. Selling over half a million CDs, they performed shows alongside Bryan Adams, The Backstreet Boys, George Michael, Simon and Garfunkel and MC Hammer.

Alex was raised by his Nigerian mother in England, who kept encouraging him to include his African roots in his music. “Stay true to you,” she would say. It took 20 years for Alex to implement his mother’s plea, and when he did, he started to find success, which lead to his famous mantra “Listen to your momma!”

“Both of my parents were born in Nigeria, and I lived there for several years of my childhood,” says Boyé. “But even with that strong background, I never focused on African culture in my music. I’ve always been this British guy who lived in the U.S.  My mother urged me to put some African influence into my music, but I kept insisting that it wasn’t a commercially viable genre.”

That all changed when he got a phone call from The Piano Guys wanting him to sing Swahili in a music video. “The resulting success of the ‘Peponi’ video had been the biggest response to any of the music I had done up to that point, and it was exciting to see fans responding to pop music with an African twist.”

Alex Boyé is known for his dynamic ‘African infused’ covers on YouTube, which have garnered more 360 million views.  In 2014, his version of “Let It Go” from the Disney blockbuster Frozen, was voted #1 Best Cover Song on YouTube. He realized a childhood dream with his debut at Royal Albert Hall, opening for Olivia Newton John. Last year, Alex performed four times at Carnegie Hall.

It was Alex’s unforgettable first audition on NBC’s reality show Americas Got Talent that lead judge Howie Mandel to say: “In my six years of judging this show, Alex is the best music artist I have seen!”

As a YouTube artist, Alex’s joyful and innovative videos have been featured on Good Morning America, Jimmy Kimmel,,, Huffington Post, and Worldstar Hiphop to name a few.  

Embracing his rich heritage after years of successful recordings as a gospel artist, Alex Boyé has taken his newfound signature sound to become a charismatic and energetically charged singing sensation who is finally being true to himself.   

Boyé believes that “music has no passport,” adding that the ultimate goal with his Africanized music is to give people a few moments of uplift. “Music can have transforming and even lifesaving potential. I’m glad I finally listened to my mom, and it feels good to be home.”


Lifetime Achievement

Since childhood, Sara Lee has loved dance.  Born and raised under the shadow of Idaho’s Grand Tetons, she trained with Rozelle Frey in Los Angeles and Banff School of Fine Arts, with degrees in Dance, Theatre, Music and Body Sciences

At BYU and in Utah, she established a reputation in Dance Education where, along with Betty Hayes of the U of U, she fought for licensure for dance teachers, allowing credentialed teachers to offer dance instruction in public schools, one of the first states in the nation to do so.  She developed the dance education program at BYU, and founded the current BYU Children’s Creative Dance Program along with Virginia Tanner.

Mrs. Gibb was Chair of the Dance Department at BYU, Professor of Dance, Associate Dean, and completed her career at BYU as Dean of the College of Health and Human Performance, retiring in 2009.

She formed a partnership with the Chinese National Dance Education Organization and has given seminars and workshops in China along with colleague Jiamin Huang.  She was instrumental in organizing the first Study Abroad Program in China for BYU dance students.  From 2003 to 2009 they hosted a BYU Leadership in Arts Education Conference for 92 Chinese arts leaders. Sara Lee received several honors from BYU, including the Zina Young Williams Card Professorship and the Karl G. Maeser Distinguished Teaching Award.

Gibb completed 8 years on the Utah Arts Council Board, and served as Chair for three. She was elected to the board of The National Association of State Arts Agencies in Washington, D.C.  She was a board member of the Utah Alliance for Arts and Humanities Education and served six years as Arts Chair of the Utah Academy for Science, Arts and Letters.  She helped author the Utah State Core curriculum for Dance in 1983, 1995, 1999.

Sara Lee has contributed to the national dialogue as President of the National Dance Organization and was instrumental in founding the National Dance Education Organization, where she was President from 2003-2005. For 9 years, she was president of the higher education accreditation body, the National Association of the Schools of Dance.

Mrs. Gibb served six years as the USA Representative for Dance and the Child International.  She published and presented research topics central to dance – the most recent was a July 2015 paper on the importance of movement and dance in early childhood at Oxford University, England. She has fulfilled teaching residencies or given keynote speeches in Japan, Korea, New Zealand and China.

Sara Lee and her husband J. David Gibb have five children and fourteen grandchildren.  Since retirement, they have served two LDS missions in Hong Kong and Leeds, England.  She is a homemaker, gardener, loves reading, music and nature.

She has a predominant philosophy that our talents are divinely granted and we have a responsibility to develop and use them in the service of our fellow beings and ultimately to God; that the joy of movement glorifies the soul and celebrates the gift of the human body and spirit.



A theatre professor, actor and director, Christopher is the former chair of the Theatre Department at Utah Valley University and the executive producer for Robert Redford’s Sundance Summer Theatre in Sundance, Utah.

Clark was born in Bozeman, Montana, but was raised mostly in Provo. He earned his Bachelor’s degree in English from Brigham Young University. He had originally entered BYU with a passion for theatre, complete with a theatre scholarship. While serving a full-time mission to Finland for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, he decided he couldn’t support a family on that degree, so he switched to English. After four years of retail management, Chris decided to go back to his passion, so he and his wife, Lisa, and their two sons moved to England, where he earned a Master of Fine Arts with distinction from the University of Exeter. He trained with the Royal Shakespeare Company and performed Shakespeare in the renowned Globe Theatre.  Eventually, the young family returned to Utah and, upon the suggestion of a friend, Clark enrolled in the Educational Leadership Program at BYU and earned his PhD in 2012.

Chris has studied with the Royal Shakespeare Company, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre (London,) Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Second City Chicago, and Theatre Biomechanics (Italy and Austria).

He has directed for the Utah Shakespeare Festival, Hale Center Theatre Orem, Hale Centre Theatre West Valley, Utah Valley University, Northcoast Repertory Theatre, Sundance Summer Theatre, Brigham Young University, Nauvoo Theatrical Society and performed with the Punchdrunk Theatre Company.

He won the 2013 National Outstanding Director Award for his production of Vincent at Brixton as well as the 2016 Gold Medallion Award from the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival. In 2013, Clark was honored with the Theater Educator Award from Utah Repertory Theater Company. He won The Deseret News Best of Theatre Award in 2005, 2006, and 2010.

Chris has produced and traveled eight productions to the famous Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland. He wrote a play called The Marrying Man, which won the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival Meritorious Achievement in Playwriting Award in 2006.

A favorite professor at Utah Valley University, Clark has led several Theatre Study Abroad tours to England and Scotland. He is married to Lisa Valentine Clark, and they have five marvelous children.


Visual Arts

Mark retired in September 2016 after an incredible 40-year career as BYU’s official university photographer.

If the adage a “picture is worth a thousand words,” then Philbrick might be the country’s most prolific campus chronographer. He has photographed prophets and apostles, presidents, dignitaries, performers, athletes, faculty members, and students. His assignments and discerning eye have taken him to nearly 60 countries and all of BYU’s 34 football postseason bowl appearances.

In four decades of professional photography, Mark Philbrick has captured the world.

With camera in hand, he has hiked the tangled jungles of Guatemala, dived off the coast of Papua New Guinea, sailed the Caribbean, climbed inside the pyramids of Egypt and caught the flavor of both the charming rural and economic giant sides of China.

Mark’s photographs have been featured in hundreds of publications, such as Sports Illustrated, National Geographic, Time Magazine, Parade Magazine, New York Times and USA Today. Among notable national figures he has photographed are President Ronald Reagan, President George Bush, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and Condoleezza Rice.

Mark is most comfortable kneeling behind the camera lens or in the darkroom as he silently, yet personably served from his office in the Smoot Administration Building during a time that spanned six University presidents from Ernest L. Wilkinson to Kevin J. Worthen. In a 2008 devotional, former BYU President Cecil O. Samuelson recognized Philbrick as an “unsung hero of the university.”

Not one to care about the spotlight, the recognition for his talents came anyway. Eight times he was named Photographer of the Year by the University Photographers Association of America, more than double the awards of his closest competitor. With Mark retiring this year, the UPAA decided to put his name on the award permanently, naming it The Mark A. Philbrick Photographer of the Year. Philbrick served five years as president of the UPAA. He has also won several Best of Show and other awards for individual photographs.

This was a culmination of lugging around 100 pounds of equipment through all sorts of weather, with adroit acumen framing, focusing and constantly coming up with creative ideas for group shots, portraits, commercial, illustration, environmental portraitures, sports action, and cultural events. He morphed from souping through chemicals to honing his craft in the modern digital age, all while protecting and promoting the brand of BYU.

Fellow UPAA winners have lauded him for the passion to continuously produce outstanding work, his creative spirit, and his desire to push his own boundaries. Says colleague Jim Dusen, himself a three-time POY winner, “Mark is the Renaissance man of photography. He’s able to approach a wide variety of subjects and find a creative end, and he has the technical expertise to pull it off.”

Mark graduated from BYU with a Bachelor’s Degree in communications (emphasis photography) in 1975 and received his Master degree in Education in 1978 after working on both the Banyan and Universe staffs. Mark and his wife Peggy are the parents of five children and have 14 grandchildren.



Dr. Marden Pond is an Emmy Award-winning composer who has created commissioned music for Ririe Woodbury Dance Company, Meet-the-Composer (New York), USAF Heritage of America Band, Utah Centennial Commission, National Pony Express Association, International Year of the Child, Barlow Endowment for Music Composition, LDS Church sesquicentennial general conference, Arizona State University, Music Teachers Association, and many others.

Marden is the recipient of the Alfred Lambourne Prize, Pearl Award (Best Classical Album), Utah Composer of the Year, Utah Governor’s Award for Contributions to International Understanding, and over twenty special awards from the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (which contains a registry of over 300 of his works). He arranged and conducted music for a performance in Arlington National Cemetery on the one-year anniversary of the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon. He won an Emmy Award for Utah’s Sanctuary: Great Salt Lake, a project he described as “an absolute joy.” Marden also directed and arranged music for America’s Freedom Festival America 9/11 performance.

Marden has been the conductor of professional, community, educational, and recording ensembles, including Nachtmusik Chamber Orchestra, CityJazz Big Band, Kingsbury Ballet Orchestra, Kixx Jazz Ensemble, West Jordan Symphony Orchestra, Salt Lake All-City Orchestra, Wasatch Brass Society, and others. As a trumpet performer, he has performed with the Utah Symphony, Alvino Rey, Bob Hope, John Davidson, the 562nd Air Force Band, The 23rd Army Band, Utah Valley Symphony, BYU Synthesis and BYU Philharmonic.

Dr. Pond has taught for nearly thirty years at Utah Valley University, where he is the recipient of the Faculty Excellence Award, Innovative Programming Award, and Elderhostel Teacher of the Year. He produced a 38-episode television course in humanities that was broadcast for nearly ten years on KBYU-TV, UVU Channel, and Utah Education Network. He also taught and developed curriculum materials for universities throughout the western United States, and a collection of over 200 works is maintained in BYU’s Harold B. Lee Library.

Pond holds degrees from the University of Northern Colorado, Arizona State University, and Brigham Young University.  He has also done postgraduate work at California State University Fullerton and University of Utah.

Marden and his wife Judy are the parents of eight children and grandparents to twenty-three. He considers his mother a great musical influence which led him to begin playing trumpet and composing in 5th grade.  A Sterling Scholar in Music at Highland High School, by 8th grade Marden had his own jazz group and composed a big band arrangement as a junior.  

Recent premieres include: Echo Canyon Serenade (Symphony No. 2) with Utah Symphonic Winds (Temple Square Concert Series), Fast Break and Ywanamaksupmawvit with CityJazz, Ode’ d’Lurch with members of the Utah Symphony, Lost Soles (Roscoe String Quartet), Whimsicon with Barry and Debra Bounous, Sweetly Sing with Red Rock Singers, and Ring In the New with Gabriel Trumpet Ensemble (Temple Square First Night Concert).

He is currently working on a new piece for solo cello, a film score, an oratorio, a symphonic suite, and a CD release.

BYU COUGARETTES (Jodi Maxfield, Director)


The Cougarettes of Brigham Young University were first established in 1946, and boast an alumni of thousands.  In 2009, the Cougarettes became an official part of the BYU Athletics Department.  They celebrated their 70th anniversary in 2016, and continue to represent the best of dance and artistry at BYU through their annual concert and performances at varied athletic and community events.  

The Cougarettes are categorized as a precision dance team, but the scope and breadth of their talent includes jazz, ballet, hip hop, contemporary, character and jazz.  These talented young women have established themselves as a perennial powerhouse in the collegiate dance world, and take pride in representing the excellence of the outstanding student athletes at BYU, providing  entertainment and cheering on the men’s football and basketball teams.   

The Cougarettes are currently the 2016 National Champions in Jazz Dance, and are also the 2015, 2013, 2012 and 2011 Hip Hop National Champions. Named one of the top 25 dance teams in the country by Dance Spirit Magazine, they have garnered 16 national dance titles over the past 19 years, including national champions in 1997, 1998, 1999, 2001, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2010, 2011, 2012, and two national titles in 2013, 2014 and 2015.  They also have 12 Best Choreography awards since their first appearance at college nationals.

The Cougarettes are also well respected internationally.  In 1995, they traveled to Southwestern China to present a six-week performance tour entitled “Dance Across the USA.”

In 2012, they competed in their first international competition, winning the Grand Prize Trophy, as well as being presented with the “Most Friendly” Trophy at the Prague Dance Festival in the Czech Republic.

Jodi Maxfield has been the Artistic Director and Head Coach of the BYU Cougarettes since 1990.  Adjudicator, teacher, and choreographer for over 30 years, dance team is her passion. While attending BYU as a dance major, Maxfield was a Cougarette herself from 1976 to 1979 and also served as dance captain.  

Jodi appeared on the cover of Dance Teacher Magazine’s March 2013 issue and was named as one of the nation’s outstanding directors in 2003 and 2004. Many of her former Cougarettes can be found performing, teaching, mentoring and sharing their light around the world. She considers one of her greatest accomplishment to be the numerous young women who have become like family and have blessed her life. Jodi is currently the Western States Representative for the National Dance Coaches Association and is the advisor over staff and curriculum for Precision Dance Camps.  She and her husband of 38 years, John Scott Maxfield, are the parents of three children and five grandchildren.  

The mission of the Cougarettes is to provide a wholesome environment for dedicated dancers to grow and develop as artists and athletes, as well as to maintain the spiritual focus and atmosphere of Brigham Young University and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  The Cougarettes take very seriously the opportunity they have been given to serve as role models in their genre of dance.



Friend of the Arts

Founded more than 30 years ago, Blake Roney, Sandie Tillotson, and Steve Lund decided to build a company that would combine innovative personal care products with ingredients that subscribed to the philosophy of “all of the good, none of the bad” and a generous business opportunity that would attract high-caliber salespeople.

It didn’t take long for people to discover the difference of Nu Skin’s unique one-of-a-kind products. In fact, the first product order was so popular that it was gone in a matter of hours. People loved the products so much that many even brought their own bottles and jars for the founders to fill with the unique formulas using an ordinary spoon.

Today, Nu Skin is differentiated by its ability to demonstrate that they truly have the best people, product, culture, and opportunity in the direct sales, skin care, and wellness industries. As the premier anti-aging company, Nu Skin sets the standard with more than 200 premium-quality products in both the personal care and nutritional supplements categories. The company builds upon its scientific expertise in both skin care and nutrition to continually develop innovative product brands that include the Nu Skin® personal care brand, the Pharmanex® nutrition brand, and most recently, the ageLOC® anti-aging brand.

At Nu Skin, they feel it both a civic responsibility and opportunity to give back to a community that has helped shaped the company into what they are today. By partnering with local charitable organizations, including many visual and performing arts programs, Nu Skin strives to further the missions and objectives of organizations seeking to make a positive impact in the community. Recently, Nu Skin partnered with Utah Valley University to help provide a significant funding grant for the new UVU Performing Arts Center.

Aside from local partnerships, Nu Skin has made considerable contributions throughout the world in improving the lives of children. To help children live a healthier and more joyful life, the Nu Skin Force for Good Foundation partners with organizations throughout the world to provide surgeries and medical research for children. The Foundation also supports initiatives that give children the opportunity to learn and further their education, providing an opportunity for a brighter future.


Advocate of the Arts

Jerry Spanos, the founder of Heritage School, was not your typical mainstream student in the public school system.  Plagued with strong feelings of failure and a school phobia throughout high school, he went on to conquer his fears and graduate with honors with a Master’s Degree in Clinical Social Work.

Jerry will tell you that “Education is Sacred,” and he has become a powerful role model and advocate for teenagers who are struggling with the many challenges of life. Driven by his passion to never give up and to be there for others in their time of need, he formed Heritage, a residential treatment center and school for at-risk adolescents based in Provo.

Since its inception in 1984, Heritage has served thousands of young people and their families.  Utilizing a relationship-based approach, the organization effectively works with teens who experience a wide variety of mental health issues, specializing in the treatment of mood disorders and with students on the spectrum.

Heritage’s core values are family based. They believe in the strong traditions and connecting points of family, education, health, social and emotional functioning, relationships, spirituality and life skills. As a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, Heritage is run by a governing board where the focus is on treatment, education, and facilities and programs that help youth become happier, healthier, well-adjusted adults.

One of the ways this is accomplished is through the performing arts.  Performing for a sold-out crowd in the state-of-the-art, 620-seat Loveland Performing Arts Center is one of many life-changing experiences students experience at Heritage. Three months of diligent practice, getting out of their comfort zones, memorizing lines, and singing and dancing finally pays off when enthusiastic crowds – including members of the local community, their family members and Heritage staff – provide a standing ovation.  As each student strives to be healed and healthy, Heritage’s advocacy of the arts in their treatment rewards them with a sense of accomplishment. With full sets, costumes and makeup, Heritage has produced and presented The Wiz, West Side Story, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Fiddler on the Roof, Annie Get Your Gun and A Christmas Carol.  The next show will be Seussical on May 4-5.

Through their unique performing arts program, Heritage students gain much more than the value of completing an activity…they feel important as a human being. That feeling of being valued is crucial for at-risk teens on their way to recovery.  Being part of a show can help a struggling student develop a sense of belonging, and the creative team at Heritage is dedicated to using the arts as a force for good.

Go see a show at Heritage School – the smiles on the actor’s faces will tell you all you need to know about how the arts can change lives.



Shari was born and raised in the small town of Shelley, Idaho.  She attended and graduated from Ricks College and Utah State University.  Throughout college, she found that her closest associations were with individuals she met while involved with service activities.

Shari’s career led her to live in a number of different states including Utah, California, Virginia, Texas and then back to Utah.  She credits her twenty years of living in the D.C. area as a great opportunity for growth both professionally and personally.  Workwise, she was able to get in on the ground floor of the new world of computers, starting out as a programmer, then a quality assurance analyst, and lastly as the first female manager in her organization.  There were opportunities as a volunteer (Utah State Alumni committee), but working and commuting took up a significant amount of time.  Involvement in her church, however, has always been a top priority.

The combination of work and personal travel was life-enriching along with the many museums and historical sites along the East Coast.  One year at Christmastime, Shari was visiting with family in the Orem area when a nephew said he had a special surprise for her.  After lunch, he took her to see the Springville Museum of Art.  She was not only surprised to find such a great museum in a small Utah community, but the quality of the art was excellent!  (As a point of reference, at her job in D.C. she was literally across the street from several Smithsonian museums.)

Perhaps the seed was planted that day.  Shari decided that upon retirement she would like to volunteer and be involved in helping such an institution to succeed.  Her father’s illness brought her back west to Ogden, where she was able to continue her work until she reached retirement.  While living in Ogden, she had the great experience of working with the Olympics, and served as team leader for the Curling Event and also volunteered for the VIP events that took place during Opening Ceremonies.

One month after retiring and moving to Springville, she walked into the Springville Museum of Art to volunteer and worked her first shift that very afternoon.  That was 11 ½ years ago.  Since then, Shari has served for four years as an officer on the Hafen-Dallin Guild; served nine years as a docent; conducted tours; spent eleven years as a desk volunteer; worked art take-in; and served as a volunteer for the Children’s Art Festival.  She considers her most challenging service to be chairing the Art Ball in 2012 and heading up the museum-sponsored tour of Greece and Turkey.

Shari loves the arts and loves to serve.


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