Remembering Deedee Corradini

Leaders become more real to us when we get to know them. Two women (Lisa Watts Baskin and Sheryl Allen) who knew and worked with Deedee Corradini share their perspectives and what they learned from her.

From Lisa Watts Baskin

When I first heard of Deedee Corradini, circa 1988, Zions Bank President Ron Hanson had taken me to the Alta Club for lunch.  His eyes lit up as he whispered to me, “Well, Deedee Corradini just walked in.”  An impressive first introduction.  The furniture backed up against the wall and all the men’s heads turned her way.  Impressive.  Very impressive.  I expected her to be this blond bombshell but instead, she was this compact athletic dynamo.  Our paths crossed although we never really knew one another.  In those in-betweens, I watched her loom large at Bonneville, occupy the mayor’s seat in Utah’s largest city, wave—ok brandish–the Olympics flag, and wear her signature red.  When I finally met her, I felt like I knew her already.  But I didn’t.

It was confusing in a way because the Deedee I was getting to know was very different than the Deedee I had seen in the press and on television.  She was warm–even sentimental–as she reflected on the sad destruction of Homs in Syria, commenting on how beautiful it all once was, having lived there as a child.  She was pragmatic.  She meted out occasional bits of personal insight about politics and its fatal truths.  When I asked how she dealt with the press coverage, she chuckled a bit and responded that she couldn’t wear red without making headlines.  She said, “I just knew who I was” and had to move forward.  She was strategic.  She went right to the top if she wanted to talk to somebody.  That included the LDS Church and James Sorenson, Sr.  She was steadfast, until her small, trim frame could no longer possess her large spirit.  In the end, I think she was rightly proud of her hard work.  She was thrilled to see women ski-jumping in the Olympics.  She was proud to watch her daughter’s success at Nike.  She was delighted to enjoy the cityscape she helped envision.  And if she had had more time, perhaps she could have helped even more women find their way to elected offices and chairs on boards.  Warm.  Pragmatic.  Strategic.  Steadfast.

The Deedee I know was very cool, genuinely fun, and immediately likeable.  She had weathered her storms well and retained that youthful vigor and healthy jaunt to her step.   Deedee often reminded me of an indefatigable schoolgirl, excitedly raising her hand and jumping up and down, waiting to be called on for her turn to share her great idea. She would offer that big beautiful smile and then shake her head to the side as if to say, “Ok then. Let’s get to it.”  Impressive. 


From Sheryl Allen

If you lived in Utah in the 1990’s, it was pretty obvious that Salt Lake City had a dynamic mayor, Mayor Deedee Corradini. If you live in Utah in 2015, it’s pretty obvious that Deedee Corradini was a gifted visionary. She left a legacy on Salt Lake City and Utah that is monumental. They include light rail, the Gateway Mall and a beautiful west side gateway, a baseball park, the LDS Plaza that is considered as a tranquil, beautiful park but not a place for demonstrations.

Of course, there was the 2002 Winter Olympics, one of the magical, unforgettable memories in Utah history.

That is the Deedee I admired until I had a chance to work with her in Real Women Run, a statewide, nonpartisan group that is encouraging, recruiting, and training more women to run for office. It was then that I met and worked with a gifted visionary who was a warm, enthusiastic, committed individual who still wanted to make a significant difference and improve policy-making by bringing more gender diversity to public office holders.

Deedee Corradini was a founding member of Real Women Run. She helped procure funding to conduct training, She recruited not only candidates but skilled trainers to assist those candidates. She recruited talented women to serve on the Real Women Run board.

When I received her phone invitation, I was thrilled to be invited to participate in a cause to which I was already committed. I was also pleased to talk at some length with Deedee Corradini. I had admired her for decades.

My expectations of working with Deedee were high, and those expectations were met. She was decisive, determined, assured, and, yes, visionary. Real Women Run was initiated in 2011. I hope that in twenty years when we look back on the work of Real Women Run we see the same progress in women holding political office and serving on boards in Utah as we have seen in downtown Salt Lake City in the last twenty years.

Thanks, Deedee. You’ve set a high mark, but we can do it – just like you did it.

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