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Bishop Carolyn Tanner Irish named 'Giant in Our City'

SALT LAKE CITY — When she found out she would receive the "Giant in Our City" award, Bishop Carolyn Tanner Irish of the Episcopal Diocese of Utah was stunned.

"You don't ever think of yourself as a giant," she said. When looking at past "Giants" like President Gordon B. Hinckley, Larry H. Miller, Jon Huntsman Sr., Mitt Romney, Ellis Ivory and Roger Boyer, Bishop Irish was a little intimidated.

But when she heard she would be the first woman honored with the award, she was thrilled.

"That really pleases me," Bishop Irish said. "It honors all women."

She has served as bishop of St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Salt Lake City since 1995 and as chairwoman of O.C. Tanner Co. since 1993.

"I literally grew up with that company," Bishop Irish said of O.C. Tanner, a human resource consulting and services company founded by her father, Obert C. Tanner. "I have a lot of memories of times that were really good and times that were not so good. … The truth is, I love the company, and I love the people that work there."

When announcing her as the award recipient, Lane Beattie, president and CEO of the Salt Lake Chamber, got emotional at the podium.

"Bishop Irish is the first woman ever to receive this honor," Beattie said. "It's about time."

Aside from honoring Irish, Beattie also discussed the position of Utah's businesses, which he said are growing despite the recession.

"Even though we've had some difficulties last year as we faced the recession, Utah has remained standing tall," said Beattie at the chamber's 107th annual meeting.

To make sure Utah stays a business leader in the future, Beattie stressed the importance of increasing funding for education.

"We need top education in this state in public and higher education, because there is nothing … more important for Utah's future and the prosperity of our economy than the education of our children," he said.

Several other businesses were given awards and recognition at the meeting. Penna Powers Brian Haynes won the Small Business of the Year Award; New Media Strategists won the Entrepreneurial Success Award; Hale Centre Theatre received the Community Service Award; and Red Iguana was given the Minority Small Business Award. Real Salt Lake received a President's Award for Excellence, only the third such award in the chamber's history. The chamber also honored former chairwoman Chris Redgrave and six "Chamber Champions": Maura Carabello, Exoro Group; Von Coffman, Bonneville Radio Group; Russ Coover, Digital Blue Photo; Jenifer Nii, Intermountain Healthcare; Sheridan Redmond, Customer Dynamics; and Paul Springer, Bailey-Montague & Associates.

e-mail: ashaha@desnews.com