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Why Graduates Who Want a Career Full of Travel and Adventure
Should Consider the US Department of State Foreign Service
(and Eight Skills and Habits to Help Them Thrive)

By Vella Mbenna

          Now that finally here, you may be dreaming of finding a job that encompasses everything you want in a career: adventure, travel, challenge, growth, risk, and reward. The problem is, most jobs come up short in these areas. But if you're determined to do meaningful work that's full of excitement, the Foreign Service may be the right place for you.

          For those who may not know, the Foreign Service is the corps of employees dedicated to representing America abroad and responding to the needs of American citizens living and traveling around the world. While not everyone is cut out for this line of work, it is a great job opportunity for ambitious new graduates.

          Being a diplomat with the US Department of State demands intellect, courage, and a sense of adventure—not to mention an unshakable work ethic. If this describes you, you may have what it takes to join the ranks of hardworking citizens making a difference in our global society.

          But make no mistake: Jobs in the Foreign Service are not easy to come by.

          In my opinion, they are one of the hardest government positions to obtain. And once you're doing the work, you'll be challenged daily to push yourself and find out what you're truly made of. You must have the right mindset and the right skill set—and acquiring them is absolutely worth it.

          Early in my life, I never suspected that I would spend 26 years working as a US diplomat with the Foreign Service. After getting my college degree, I wound up back in my hometown in rural Georgia with a young child and few career prospects. But staying put was not an option. My wanderlust prompted me to apply for a position with the US Department of State, where I eventually became an information management officer (IMO) in charge of information technology (IT) and communications, working in places like Beirut, Uganda, and Tunisia.

          There, among my primarily "male, white, Yale" colleagues, I (a minority three times over: black, Southern, and female) started my long journey to the top. Despite facing instances of insubordination, racism, sexism, and culture shaming, I worked my way up to level "01," the highest-grade level you can earn in the Foreign Service—provided there is no desire to hang around for some years to see if you will be selected to join the cadre of senior, policy-level foreign affairs professionals.

          For a self-proclaimed adrenaline junkie, the challenges, victories, and even the near misses I experienced were the very definition of a fulfilling career.

          If you're ready to graduate and may be interested in a career in the Foreign Service, here are the skills and behaviors you should turn into habits right now:

Do the work—and more. Dutifully do your work every day, and do it well. And when your work is done, see if you can help someone else with theirs. I routinely went above and beyond throughout my career, including my efforts in the aftermath of the 1998 bombing of the US Embassy in Dar es Salaam. My contributions during this dangerous time even earned me a Heroism Award from the Department of State.

My mother's 'hard work from dawn to dusk' mandate, which I was raised with, shaped my professional work ethic. The good news is, anyone can learn this skill with enough perseverance. Challenge yourself daily to not just show up for your work—whatever it may be—but come with a contagiously positive attitude that shows your gratefulness for the type of work you do. Rise to the occasion consistently, and soon it will become second nature, and people will take notice.

Find a role model/mentor. Develop trusting relationships with colleagues—in the field or not—who can help guide and develop you in your career. Think of someone you admire whom you could learn from and ask them if they will offer you career guidance. The Department of State also has an excellent formal mentor program, and I highly recommend newer diplomats take full advantage of it.

Don't be afraid to share ideas. Never sit around the table during meetings thinking you are too low in rank or too ignorant of the subject matter to contribute. You would not be there if you did not have something to contribute. Meetings are the ideal time for discussing ideas; come prepared with at least one or two ideas or questions, and then communicate them. Around mid-career, I became tired of sitting in meetings and rarely contributing. So, my motto became: "If you think it, share it." It paid off for me, and it will for you too.

Respect the chain of command. I do not believe any leader wants to be second-guessed or challenged by a subordinate, especially not in public. The leader is the leader for a reason. Respect the chain of command and insist on it regardless of whether you are the leader, the second-in-command, or the follower.

Overstepping boundaries without being invited to, especially if it is not your project or post, makes for a rough ride and stressful work environment for the entire team. As someone who has served as a leader and follower in my career, I can confirm that the chain of command works when everyone follows it.

Be strategic. Don't leave your career up to chance. Think carefully about the path you would like to take, then plan your career trajectory accordingly. Keep in mind that every position and grade level you attain are stepping stones to the next one, so be on the lookout for opportunities to learn and develop while whole-heartedly contributing to the mission. Finally, remember that new skills can qualify you for more advanced positions, so seize every chance to acquire them.

Know when to lead and when to follow. The higher you climb in the Foreign Service (and in most other fields), the more leadership responsibilities you will have. Still, different positions require you to serve in different capacities. Sometimes you will be asked to lead, and other times you will be asked to follow. Learn to do both with ease—and be aware of when either is appropriate—and you will be more valuable to your team and organization.

After having been a leader in previous roles, I accepted a position on a "hardship" tour in Kabul, Afghanistan. I went in knowing and accepting that this time I would be a follower, and I became a good one because of that mindset. I did what I was supposed to do, and I did it as specified with a smile. Keep in mind that whether you're a follower or a leader, your work counts. Whatever role you find yourself in, it matters, so be sure to make it work for you.

Be dedicated/be useful, even in bad conditions. Learn to stay on task even during chaotic times (whether the chaos is work-related or personal). My last Foreign Service assignment was in Tunis, Tunisia, several years after the uprisings of the Arab Spring. Even though the turmoil had resulted in staff reduction and a revolving door of temporary staff at the embassy, I never stopped working and striving to uphold my responsibilities—not even when a broken leg forced me to work from a hotel and home for several weeks while I recovered.

Don't hesitate to do more than your specific duties in calm and chaotic periods. Pitch in and help others, even if they do not ask. If they do not need your help, they will tell you. You'll never regret going the extra mile, because eventually it will pay off for you, even if it only brings a smile to your face or a good memory years later when telling your Foreign Service story.

Know when to leave. When it's time to leave the Foreign Service, you will know it. This comes at a different time for everyone. It could be a few years into your career, or you may stay until you reach the mandatory retirement age of 65. You might start feeling restless, unsatisfied, or unhappy at work; or missing your family and friends so much that it distracts you from your duties; or simply realizing that you're ready for your next adventure. Regardless of what it is, pack your bags and leave before you are burned-out or forced to leave. I reached my desired rank and left on my own terms, and what a happy feeling that was!

          If you want to succeed in a high-stakes work environment like the Foreign Service, you'd better be ready to put your heart and soul into it. Be ready to work hard and go all in, and from there the experience acquired and skills you are sharpening each day will help you truly excel. Yes, there are easier careers out there, but few are as rewarding or exhilarating. So if you want it, dig deep into who you are, find your greatness, and let it shine every day.

# # #

About the Author:
Vella Mbenna is the author of Muddy Roads Blue Skies: My Journey to the Foreign Service, from the Rural South to Tanzania and Beyond. She was born in the Holmestown community of Midway, Georgia, where she grew up with eight siblings and parents who instilled in her the important values that would set her on the path to success. Throughout her youth, Vella dreamed of escaping small-town USA and traveling the world. In 1989, that dream came true when she was offered a position with the US Department of State Foreign Service. During her highly successful 26-year career as a diplomat, Vella served with honor in 13 foreign countries as well as two tours in Washington, DC.

For more information, please visit vellambenna.com.

She can also be found on:
LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/vellambenna/
Facebook https://www.facebook.com/Muddy-Roads-Blue-Skies-230262701234427/
Twitter @VMbenna

About the Book:
Muddy Roads Blue Skies: My Journey to the Foreign Service, from the Rural South to Tanzania and Beyond (Muddy Roads Press, 2019, ISBN: 978-1-7327918-0-0, $16.99) is available from major online booksellers. It is also available in ebook and audiobook format.


ntermountain Medical Center Once Again Honored as One of America’s 100 Great Hospitals



Our ability to bring state-of-the-art care to our patients, and our expanded role in healthcare research will continue to ensure we’re helping people live the healthiest lives possible.”

— Intermountain Medical Center administrator, Blair Kent

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH, USA, May 7, 2019 /EINPresswire.com/ -- For the fourth year in a row, Becker’s Hospital Review, a national healthcare publication, has named Intermountain Medical Center in Murray as one its “100 Great Hospitals in America.”

In compiling the list of the nation’s top hospitals, Becker’s said selected facilities are “recognized nationally for excellence in clinical care, patient outcomes, and staff and physician satisfaction.”
Intermountain Medical Center is named alongside other industry leaders in healthcare such as the Mayo Clinic, John Hopkins Hospital, and The Cleveland Clinic.

“Intermountain Medical Center is the flagship hospital of Salt Lake City-based Intermountain Healthcare and with 504 beds is the largest hospital in Utah,” says the magazine’s summary of the hospital. “In September 2019, Intermountain opened the Kem C. Gardner Transformation Center, where scientists and physicians are collaborating on more than 1,500 research studies in more than 20 clinical areas.”

Intermountain Medical Center administrator, Blair Kent, praised caregivers for the dedication and hard work in helping the hospital make the list year after year.

“It’s always great to receive this kind of recognition on a national level,” said Kent. “Our ability to bring state-of-the-art care to our patients, and our expanded role in healthcare research will continue to ensure we’re helping people live the healthiest lives possible.”

Becker’s says hospital selection for this list is based on analysis of national rankings from other organizations as well as nominations.

“These institutions are industry leaders that have achieved advanced accreditation and certification in several specialties. The list also includes industry innovators that have sparked trends in healthcare technology, hospital management and patient satisfaction,” said the publication.

The complete list of Becker’s “100 Great Hospitals in America,” can be found here:

Intermountain Healthcare is a Utah-based not-for-profit system of 24 hospitals, 160 clinics, a Medical Group with some 2,300 employed physicians and advanced care practitioners, a health insurance company called SelectHealth, and other health services. Intermountain is widely recognized as a leader in transforming healthcare through evidence-based best practices, high quality, and sustainable costs. For more information about Intermountain, visit intermountainhealthcare.org.


Jeppson Dental Earns Nine Consecutive Talk Awards for Customer Satisfaction

Jeppson Dental Earns Ninth Consecutive Talk Award.

Dr. Jeppson and his team are committed to patient satisfaction.

Provo dentist Joe Jeppson and his team earns their ninth prestigious Talk Award thanks to outstanding customer service.


We work as a team to provide the best patient experience possible by focusing on kind communication, effective systems and quality treatment.”

— Dr. Joe Jeppson

PROVO , UTAH, UNITED STATES, May 7, 2019 /EINPresswire.com/ -- For nearly two decades, Jeppson Dental has provided the highest levels of dental care to the community. By focusing on also giving patients the best experience possible, the practice recently earned its ninth consecutive Talk Award for Customer Satisfaction.

The Talk Awards identifies and honors businesses that provide an outstanding customer experience. Winners are based on an independent, proprietary research and evaluation system, which identifies businesses with a track record of excellent customer service and satisfaction. The rating system combines data collected from nominations, online and other customer reviews, surveys, blogs, social networks, business-rating services, and other honors and accolades — all of which express the voice of the customer. Only those with a 4- or 5-star rating receive The Talk Award.

Jeppson Dental has been providing high-quality dental services backed by patient-first customer service since 2000. The practice has been in its current location since 2006 and provides general, cosmetic and restorative dentistry.

Joe Jeppson, DDS, consistently goes the extra mile with continuing education to fine tune his skills and learn new techniques that make the practice’s treatments better and more comfortable for patients. Among its specialized services are clear aligner orthodontics, one-visit crowns with CEREC technology, laser dentistry, implant restorations, and TuttleNumbNow (TNN) anesthesia so patients leave not feeling numb.

In addition to using some of the latest technology to ensure the best possible treatment, Dr. Jeppson and his team use old-fashioned patient service philosophies to ensure the best possible experience every time.

“We work as a team to provide the best patient experience possible by focusing on kind communication, effective systems and quality treatment,” says Dr. Jeppson. “We focus on every step of the patient experience, from first phone call to the last insurance payment, to make sure we have systems in place to facilitate our patients feeling well cared for and provided with the best treatment available.”

Dr. Jeppson recognizes the important role his team plays in caring for his patients and providing an excellent experience. “They are amazing individuals who bring a lot of experience in the dental profession,” he says. “They are kind, caring and hard working. They enjoy striving to lift people when they come in. Our patients become friends and family, and we treat them as such.”

Patients at Jeppson Dental couldn’t be more pleased with their treatment and overall experiences and have spoken out, leading to the practice’s nine consecutive Talk Awards.

“Dr. Jeppson and his staff are amazing people; they are very friendly as well as professional,” says Riley K. “I was referred to Jeppson Dental from a good friend. The minute I set foot in the office I felt welcome and all my dental needs were addressed quickly and honestly. I would recommend them to anyone!!”

Cameron N. says, “I’ve never enjoyed going to the dentist, but Dr. Jeppson made it so easy. He answered all my questions, took his time and completed quality service. I’ve recommended him to my brother and will continue to recommend him to others. His office is incredibly nice, his staff is nice and he is great.”

“Dr. Joe is wonderful,” says Chad G. “[I’ve] been seeing him for over 10 years. He cares about his patients and is never content with the status-quo. He is always looking for ways to improve and be on the cutting edge of dentistry practices yet maintains his personal touch with those that come to see him!”

All the work the team at Jeppson Dental has put in to serving customers has paid off. “Our goal isn’t to be big,” says Dr. Jeppson. “Our goal is to focus on providing the best patient experience possible. No high pressure sales, just conservative treatment with a focus on prevention. We try to give you your best options and then let you choose.”

Jeppson Dental is located at 86 N. University Avenue, Suite 280 in Provo. For more information, call 801-356-7701 or go online to www.jeppsondental.com. Visit the practice’s Award Page at https://www.thetalkawards.com/award/jeppson-dental.

About The Talk Awards
The Talk Awards were created to calculate customer satisfaction ratings for a variety of businesses, based on customer feedback online, and help businesses gain control of their image and reputation by providing consumers a fair and unbiased overview of their business. For more information about The Talk Awards, call 877-712-4758 or go online to www.thetalkawards.com.


This Outdoor Retailer leads the charge in Sustainability

Buy + Sell Gear

PARK CITY, UT, US, May 8, 2019 /EINPresswire.com/ -- As stewardship and environmental responsibility become a greater concern for consumers, companies pledge to help the cause, but few companies are as green as GearTrade.

Since 1999, GearTrade.com has never produced a single consumer good. While most outdoor retailers sell new product, which has a significant carbon footprint, GearTrade is solely focused on the re-use of outdoor gear.

Fortune Magazine Names Intermountain Healthcare President Dr. Marc Harrison to its 2019 World’s 50 Greatest Leaders List

Marc Harrison, MD, Intermountain Healthcare President and CEO


...this honor speaks to Intermountain’s innovative, forward-thinking culture, and the unwavering commitment of each of our caregivers to helping people live the healthiest lives possible.”

— Marc Harrison, MD, Intermountain president and CEO

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH, USA, May 8, 2019 /EINPresswire.com/ -- Fortune magazine named Intermountain Healthcare’s President and CEO Marc Harrison, MD, as No. 26 on its list of the World’s Greatest Leaders, which was published on Thursday. The annual list includes the top 50 men and women who are “transforming the world and inspiring others to do the same,” according to the business magazine.

Fortune says Dr. Harrison’s impact on healthcare transformation is the key to his inclusion on the prestigious list. Specifically, Fortune praised Dr. Harrison’s leadership in launching Civica Rx, a Utah-based not-for-profit generic drug manufacturer and distributor that’s working to make generic medications more available and affordable in hospitals across the nation.

“Marc is a force for positive change in healthcare and beyond. In my service as chair of the board of Intermountain Healthcare, I have the privilege of having a front row seat to his outstanding leadership and am witness to his significant involvement in our communities,” said Gail Miller, Utah business and civic leader who is chair of Intermountain Healthcare’s Board of Trustees. “Marc is recognized locally and nationally for his dedicated work in making quality healthcare more accessible, more affordable and more people-centered.”

“Health workers often struggle for access to essential generic drugs, thwarted by price hikes, shortages, and drug-industry whims,” Fortune reports. “Enter Harrison, CEO of a top Utah health system, with a bold fix: With six partners, he formed an independent nonprofit drugmaker, Civica Rx. The venture has signed up some 900 health systems as customers; it should be producing generics by year’s end.”

“I’m humbled to be included among such influential leaders,” said Dr. Harrison. “But this honor speaks to Intermountain’s innovative, forward-thinking culture, and the unwavering commitment of each of our caregivers to helping people live the healthiest lives possible. The future is bright for Intermountain and the people we serve.”

Other leaders on this year’s list include Bill and Melinda Gates, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, actor Michael J. Fox, and Apple CEO Tim Cook. Fortune’s editorial board and panel of advisors select the nominees for the annual list, which is now in its 7th iteration.

Dr. Harrison’s inclusion on Fortune’s list adds to his growing reputation as a national influencer. In 2018 he was named No. 2 on both Modern Healthcare’s 50 Most Influential Physician Executives and 100 Most Influential People in Healthcare lists.

Dr. Harrison was named President and CEO of Intermountain Healthcare in October of 2016. Intermountain is a Utah-based not-for-profit system of 24 hospitals, 160 clinics, a Medical Group with some 2,300 employed physicians and advanced care practitioners, a health insurance company called SelectHealth, and other health services. Intermountain is widely recognized as a leader in transforming healthcare through evidence-based best practices, high quality, and sustainable costs. For more information about Intermountain, visit intermountainhealthcare.org.



As the oldest and largest marketplace for outdoor gear, GearTrade has kept over $27 Million dollars worth of gear, out of our landfills! Re-use is the highest form of recycling and by re-using gear, everyone can contribute significantly to offsetting their own carbon footprint.

It's as simple as deciding to buy used instead of new, or selling your old outdoor gear, instead of throwing it away. As a true marketplace, GearTrade allows individuals to sell their outdoor gear easily from their phone or computer. They offer free listings, guaranteed payment and full payment processing included in their low flat rate commission of 13%.

In an industry that totes sustainability, GearTrade has been living it for almost 20 years.