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Newsmax's 50 Most Influential Mormons in America

Newsmax's 50 Most Influential Mormons in America

From L: Mitt Romney (Theo Wargo/NBC/Getty Images for 'The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon'), Mia Love (Wikimedia Commons), Bill Marriott (Rex Features via AP Images).

Wednesday, 24 August 2016 09:43 AM EDT

Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are important leaders in many fields, including government, economics, entertainment, science, education, and sports. Most would agree Mormons “over index” in many fields that affect millions throughout the world.

To compile this list, our editors combed through many online sources and consulted with several well-connected and informed Mormons. Still, a list like this is subjective at best, and should be viewed as interesting and informative, rather than definitive. We very likely missed people who should have been on the list, and we welcome your input and correction for future editions. And, while picking only 50 is difficult, coming up with a ranking is even more subjective. We tried to rank them in what we believe is a somewhat logical order, but certainly recognize that many readers (and perhaps people on the list!) may take exception with the ranking.

Also, there are many more members of the U.S. Congress than are listed. They easily could have all been listed. We opted instead, however, to list only those with particular influence, such as committee assignments, caucus leadership, etc.

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Finally, it is important to note we opted to not list the most obvious influential Mormon, namely the Church’s beloved president, Thomas S. Monson, who faithful Mormons revere as a living prophet. Monson, like the other “General Authorities” are clearly the most influential Mormons, certainly on the members of the Church. Nonetheless, for purposes of this list, we opted to look outside the Church hierarchy, and focused on leaders who are currently active in their respective secular fields of endeavor.

We hope you enjoy the list and welcome your corrections and suggestions for future lists (comments can be sent to [email protected]).

1. Mitt Romney — A fifth-generation Mormon, the former governor of Massachusetts and the 2012 Republican presidential nominee served as a missionary in France. He and his gifted wife, Ann, are the parents of five sons. In addition to a distinguished career at Bain Capital, Romney is widely credited with rescuing the scandal-ridden Salt Lake City Olympic games.

2. Bill Marriott — The executive chairman and chairman of the board of Marriott International led the transformation of the family restaurant business into the world’s largest lodging company. Marriott is easily one of the world’s most recognizable and respected business leaders. He is also known for his tireless work within the Church and philanthropic communities.

3. Orrin Hatch – Now in his seventh term as a U.S. senator for Utah, Hatch is currently chairman of the powerful Senate Committee on Finance. He is also a member and former chairman of both the the Senate Judiciary Committee and the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee. Known traditionally as a conservative, Hatch is one of just a handful of senators who can and does effectively reach across the aisle on important legislation.

4. Jack Gerard – Currently president of the influential American Petroleum Institute (API), a position he has held since 2008, Gerard has been active as a leader in the Church and is a board member and past chairman of National Capital Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America. He and his wife, Claudette, have eight children, including twin boys they adopted from Guatemala.

5. Clayton Christensen — Clayton M. Christensen is the Kim B. Clark Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School. He is known as an expert on disruptive innovation. He is the author of many critically acclaimed books, including several New York Times best-sellers, such as "The Innovator's Dilemma." Christensen is the co-founder of Innosight, a management-consulting company; Rose Park Advisors, an investment firm; and the Innosight Institute, a non-profit think tank. Christensen is widely acclaimed as one of the world’s most influential business theorists. In 2015, he won the Edison Achievement Award — a prestigious award given to world leaders in innovation. Previous winners include Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, Ted Turner, and Bill Marriott.

6. Harry Reid — The senior U.S. Democratic senator from Nevada currently serves as the Senate Minority Leader. Previously the chairman of the Nevada Gaming Commission, Reid has served in the Senate since 1986. He was a high-profile and controversial U.S. Senate Majority Leader from 2006 until 2015. Reid was elected to the Gaming Hall of Fame in 2001 (joining fellow members Frank Sinatra, Donald Trump, and Wayne Newton). The Searchlight, Nevada, native married his high school sweetheart, Landra, and together they have five children.

7. Mike Lee — Having clearly stepped out of the long shadow cast by his famous late father, Rex Lee, Mike Lee became Utah’s junior senator in 2011. Lee clerked for now Supreme Court Justice Sam Alito while Alito was a judge on the Third Circuit Court. Known as one of the most staunchly conservative senators, friends and associates say he is also known for his willingness to listen and learn from all sides.

8. Jason Chaffetz — The U.S. Representative from Utah’s 3rd District is currently chairman of the powerful House Oversight & Government Reform Committee. Chaffetz is also a member of the House Judiciary Committee. A popular guest on cable TV shows, Chaffetz is reportedly considering a run for Utah governor in 2020.

9. Jon Huntsman (both and either Jr. or Sr.) — Utah’s wealthiest citizen, Jon Huntsman, Sr., and eldest son, Jon, Jr., have both made their mark and each deserves to be on this list (but are hard to separate). After having built an impressive world-wide chemical company, Senior continues his influence through many channels, particularly through his philanthropy. His charitable giving now exceeds $1 billion, particularly in the fields of healthcare and education. Meanwhile, Jon, Jr., has served in several presidential administrations, including as ambassador to Singapore (1992-1993) and to China (2009-2011). In between, he took time to run for and win the governorship of Utah. In 2012, Republican Huntsman even made a run at the presidency. He currently chairs think tank Atlantic Council and is the co-leader, along with Joe Lieberman, of No Labels.

10. Thomas B. Griffith — A graduate of Brigham Young University and the University of Virginia Law School, Griffith is now a federal judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. Griffith served as the Senate Legal Counsel during the Clinton impeachment trial during which he provided nonpartisan legal counsel to both parties. Griffith was once included on The New Republic’s list of Washington’s most powerful, but least known people. Griffith joined the Church as a junior at McLean, Virginia’s Langley High School.

11. Mia Love — The U.S. Representative from Utah was the first African American female Republican and first Haitian American in Congress. Though she was raised Roman Catholic, she joined the LDS Church in 1998.

12. Kim B. Clark — Clark was the popular dean of the Harvard School of Business from 1995 to 2005. He left that prestigious post to take up the mantle of president of Church-owned BYU-Idaho. Clark is now an LDS Church General Authority and is also the Church Commissioner of Education. Clark and his wife, Sue Lorraine, are the parents of seven children. [*As previously noted, the editors of this list decided not to include General Authorities on this list, even though they are obviously among the world’s most influential Mormons. Clark is on this list both because of his role in education in the country and because of his somewhat secular role as Commissioner of Education, not because of his position as a General Authority.]

13. Bryce Harper – One of Major League Baseball's undisputed superstars, Harper amps up the energy every time he takes the field for the Washington Nationals. Harper was selected as the National League Rookie of the Year in 2012 and as the NL's MVP for 2015. At the age 23, the Las Vegas native was the fourth youngest player to win the MVP, and the youngest ever to win by unanimous decision.

14. Jeff Flake — The junior Republican U.S. Senator from Arizona is known as a fiscal conservative and also serves on the Liberty Committee and the Republican Study Committee. Flake was born in Snowflake, Arizona, a town founded by Erastus Snow and William Jordan Flake, the senator's great grandfather.

15. E. Gordon Gee — The Vernal, Utah, native is the current president of West Virginia University. Gee has held more university presidencies than any other American. In addition to West Virginia, Gee has led Ohio State, Vanderbilt, Brown, and University of Colorado.

16. Gary Herbert — The Republican governor of Utah is also the chairman of the National Governors’ Association. Herbert won his first (full-term) election in 2012 with a commanding 68 percent of the popular vote. He first took over the post when he was elevated from lieutenant governor to replace Gov. Jon Huntsman, Jr., who resigned when he was appointed U.S. Ambassador to China by President Barack Obama in 2009.

17. Marie and Donny Osmond — Members of the world’s most well-known Mormon family continue to influence after more than 50 years in the spotlight. Donny and Marie pack in audiences in Las Vegas, the Osmond Brothers routinely tour, and youngest brother Jimmy, in addition to performing solo and with the Osmond Brothers, has distinguished himself as a gifted businessman. Their status as “First Family of Entertainment” continues to influence people throughout the world.

18. Robert S. Beecroft — Currently the U.S. ambassador to Egypt, Beecroft is a career diplomat, having previously served as ambassador to both Iraq and Jordan (Church members Deborah Jones and Matthew Tueller are also influential U.S. ambassadors, currently serving in Libya and Yemen, respectively.) Beecroft has also served in various diplomatic assignment in Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Syria.

19. Gordon Smith — The former two-term Republican senator from Oregon now serves as a General Authority for the LDS Church in the Washington, D.C., area. Smith was named president of the influential National Association of Broadcasters in 2009. Smith and his wife Sharon adopted several children in the 1980s. In 2003, Smith’s son Garrett, then a 21-year-old college student, committed suicide. To help others, Smith shared this tragedy in a heartfelt book entitled "Remembering Garrett, One Family’s Battle with a Child’s Depression." In 2004, President George W. Bush signed the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act, authorizing $82 million for suicide-prevention and awareness programs at colleges.

20. Glenn Beck — Prominent conservative television and radio host, founder and host of Mercury Radio Arts, and founder of The Blaze, an independent news and entertainment television network and website. Beck became a very public supporter of Sen. Ted Cruz (and an equally public detractor of Donald Trump) in the 2016 Republican presidential primary race.

21. Michael K. Young – Currently the president of Texas A&M, the fourth-largest university in the United States, Young previously served as president of the University of Washington and of the University of Utah. Prior to that, he worked as dean of the George Washington University Law School from 1998 to 2004.

22. A. Scott Anderson — Some call him Utah’s unelected governor, reflecting Anderson’s (and Zions Bank’s) clout. Anderson joined Zions Bank in 1990 and is currently its president and CEO. He earned a bachelor's degree from Columbia University in philosophy and economics and went on to pursue a master’s in economics and international studies at Johns Hopkins University. His influence ranges from politics to business to charitable works. As the Salt Lake Tribune once said, “He is the man you must see before running for office.”

23. Blake Roney — Co-founder and former chairman of Nu Skin Enterprises, Roney took leave from the company in 2012 to serve as a mission president in the France Toulouse Mission. Roney and his wife, Nancy, are the parents of eight children. Provo, Utah-based Nu Skin International has more than 500,000 distributors in 54 countries.

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24. Steve Young — After attending and playing for BYU (during the years when the “Y” was known as the “quarterback factory”), Young was named the Most Valuable Player of the NFL in 1992 and 1994, as well as the MVP of Super Bowl XXIX (all while with the San Francisco 49ers.) Young was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2005, and continues in the spotlight as a popular football color commentator. Young founded the Forever Young Foundation in 1993, providing a variety of resources to children facing significant emotional, physical, and financial challenges. He is also the great-great-great-grandson of Brigham Young, BYU's namesake and the second president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

25. Mike Leavitt — The former Republican governor of Utah, Leavitt also served as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency and Secretary of Health and Human Services. Leavitt headed the short-lived Romney transition team (he literally wrote “the book” on how transition teams should work under the new presidential transition law).

26. David Neeleman — Born in Brazil and raised in Miami, Neeleman is the founder or co-founder of four commercial airlines — Morris Air, Westjet, JetBlue, and Azul Brazilian Airlines.

27. Andy Reid — The California native and former offensive tackle at BYU (1978-1980) is the current head coach of the NFL's Kansas City Chiefs and former head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles. Reid met his wife, Tammy, at a “Fundamentals of Tennis” class while both were BYU undergrads.

28. Cael Sanderson — The 2004 Olympic gold medalist wrestler is now head wrestling coach at Penn State University, where he led his team to four straight national titles (2011 to 2014). Sanderson is considered by many to be one of America’s greatest amateur wrestlers.

29. Danny Ainge — Former professional basketball and baseball player and currently president of Basketball Operations for the Boston Celtics. Ainge is the only person to be a high school first team All-American in football, basketball, and baseball. He and his wife, Michelle, have six children.

30. Edwin Catmull — The West Virginia native is president of Pixar Animation Studios and Walt Disney Animation Studios. He has contributed significantly to many advancements in computer graphics during his long career as a computer scientist and has received numerous awards, including the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Academy Scientific and Technical Award and the John von Neumann Medal.

31. Ken Niumatalolo — Head football coach of the U.S. Naval Academy and the first native Samoan collegiate head coach, Niumatalolo served as a Spanish-speaking mission in the California Ventura Mission.

32. Gerald Molen — Influential Hollywood movie producer who is behind many well-known films, including "Schindler's List," "Jurassic Park," and "Rain Man." Now semi-retired, Molen also produced Dinesh D’Souza's films, including the popular "2016: Obama's America."

33. Raul Labrador — Born in Carolina, Puerto Rico, Labrador is the Republican Representative for Idaho’s 1st congressional district, and is known as an influential opinion-maker among conservative members of Congress. He was first elected in 2010, and he also served as a Mormon missionary in Chile.

34. Brandon Flowers — The Nevada native is lead singer for the popular rock band The Killers and has released two solo albums. He and his wife, Tana, have three sons. He wrote the song "A Dustland Fairyland" as a tribute to their marriage and romance.

35. Kaskade — Ryan Gary Raddon, otherwise known as "Kaskade," is a highly successful DJ and record producer. In 2014, Forbes listed Kaskade as the No. 8 highest-paid DJ in the world, with earnings estimated at $17 million.

36. Bronco Mendenhall — Head football coach at the University of Virginia since 2015, Mendenhall previously worked as head coach at BYU, where he amassed the second most BYU football wins of any coach (behind legendary LaVell Edwards, after whom the Cougar’s stadium is named).

37. Gladys Knight — With an entertainment career starting back when she won Ted Mack’s "The Original Amateur Hour" in 1952 at the age of 7, Knight has earned her nickname as the Empress of Soul. The seven-time Grammy award winner (and BET Lifetime Achievement Winner) followed her son and daughter into the Church in 1997.

38. Sheri Dew — CEO of the Deseret Book Company, Dew is a motivational speaker and staunch supporter of traditional family values.

39. Dave Checketts — Easily one of the most powerful names in the business of sports, Checketts started his early career with Bain & Company and went on to lead the Utah Jazz. At the age of 28, he became president and general manager of the Jazz, making him the youngest CEO in NBA history. Since then he has held many influential positions, including president of the NY Knicks and then president and CEO of Madison Square Garden (owner of the Knicks, Rangers, Madison Square Garden, and much more). He is currently chairman of SPC Worldwide.

40. Frank VanderSloot — The founder of Melaleuca, Inc. served as finance co-chairman of Mitt Romney's campaigns for president in 2008 and 2012 and, in 2013, he was listed by Business Insider as the wealthiest person in Idaho with a personal fortune of $1.2 billion.

41. Brent Scowcroft — A national security heavyhitter, Scowcroft served as the U.S. National Security Advisor and chairman of the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board under President George W. Bush. A retired U.S. Air Force Lieutenant General, Scowcroft currently sits on a variety of corporate and nonprofit boards.

42. Stephenie Meyer — The "Twilight" series creator and author has made several most-influential lists, thanks to the worldwide recognition and sales of her books, which number more than 100 million. Meyer had no experience as a writer before putting pen to paper to write the "Twilight" series, which went on to become a successful film franchise.

43. Eric Varvel — CEO of Credit Suisse’s Asia Pacific Region, he also jointly leads CS’s Investment Banking division and has served as a member of the firm’s executive board since 2008. A BYU graduate, he and his wife, Shauna, have been married for 25 years and have five children.

44. Orson Scott Card — A great-great-grandson of Brigham Young, Card is the only science fiction author to win Hugo and Nebula awards (science fiction writing’s most prestigious awards) in consecutive years. The awards were given for his huge-selling "Ender’s Game" and its sequel "Speaker for the Dead." Card is an English professor at Southern Virginia University.

45. Lloyd Newell — Perhaps the most listened-to Mormon on a weekly basis, Newell is the voice of the oldest, continuous nation-wide network broadcast in the world: “Music and the Spoken Word.” Newell gives the spoken message during the program that every week for more than 100 years has featured non-denominational messages and music by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

46. Richard Bushman — Currently a member of the faculty at Columbia University, Bushman previously taught at Harvard, BYU, Boston University, and the University of Delaware.

47. Kathleen Flake — Flake currently serves as the chair of the Mormon studies program at the University of Virginia. She holds degrees from BYU, University of Utah, and Catholic University of Chicago. Flake’s opinions are frequently sought after by the media when writing about the Church.

48. Johnny Miller — The San Francisco native won 25 PGA Tour events, including two majors. He was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1998. Miller is a golf course architect and, since 1990, the lead golf analyst for NBC sports.

49. Enid Greene Mickelsen — A former congresswoman for Utah’s 2nd district, Mickelsen was appointed by RNC chairman Reince Priebus to head the 2016 Republican Convention Rules Committee. She is only the second member of Congress to give birth while serving.

50. Mark Skousen — Starting his career as an economic analyst for the CIA in 1972 gave him unique insights as an investment adviser. He has written the investment newsletter Forecasts & Strategies for more than 30 years. He is the founder and owner of the libertarian-oriented FreedomFest conference, billed as “The World’s Largest Gathering of Free Minds.” Skousen introduced a breakthrough economic statistic, Gross Output (GO), the first new economic aggregate recognized by the Bureau of Economic Analysis since GDP was introduced more than 50 years ago. Skousen has lived in six countries and is the author of at least 25 books. He and his equally accomplished wife, Jo Ann, are the parents of five children.

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Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are important leaders in many fields, including government, economics, entertainment, science, education, and sports. Most would agree Mormons “over index” in many fields that affect millions throughout the world.
newsmax, list, mormons, influential
Wednesday, 24 August 2016 09:43 AM
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