About Education First

Education First is a citizens group, 50,000 members strong, organized as a state PAC dedicated to improved accountability, innovation and investment for education in Utah. Education First is made up of Utahns from every walk of life with one common goal—securing the economic future of our state by ensuring that the workforce of tomorrow has the skills to compete in a global marketplace. This can only happen through education. Education First supports public officials and candidates for office in Utah who support our state’s economic future by putting education first.

About Our Co-Chairs

Jesselie Barlow Anderson

Jesselie Barlow Anderson has served as chair of the Salt Lake Community College Board of Trustees and as a member of the Westminster College Board of Trustees.

She is active in community affairs, currently serving on the governing boards of Education First, Olene S. Walker Institute of Politics and Public Service at Weber State University, Success in Education Foundation, the University of Utah Hospital and National Advisory Council.

She is employed by Barlow Corporation. She received a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Utah.


Nolan Karras

Nolan Karras is the chairman and CEO of The Karras Company, Inc., a registered investment advisor located in Roy, Utah. Karras serves as a Weber State University trustee, he is on the board of WSU’s Olene S. Walker Institute of Politics and Public Service and is on the Board of Merit Medical, Inc.

He served in the Utah Legislature from 1981 to 1990, where he served as speaker of the house. He was on the Board of Trustees of the Salt Lake Olympic Committee and served 12 years as member of the Utah Board of Regents, where he was chairman from 2001 to 2005. Karras earned a Bachelor of Science in banking and finance from Weber State College and an MBA from the University of Utah.


Richard E. Kendell

Richard E. Kendell received his Bachelor’s degree from Weber State University and his Master’s and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Utah, emphasizing in leadership and policy.

Dr. Kendell is a former Commissioner of the Utah System of Higher Education. He has previously served as Interim President of Southern Utah University, Executive Director of the Utah Partnership for Education, Deputy to the Governor for Education and Economic Development, Superintendent of Davis School District, and Assistant State Superintendent of Schools. He is currently a Regents Professor in the Utah Education Policy Center at the University of Utah. Dr. Kendell was also formerly Associate Dean of the Graduate School, Associate Dean of the School of Education, and acting chair in the Department of Leadership and Policy at the University of Utah.


Bob Marquardt

Bob Marquardt became president of Management and Training Corporation in 1991. Since that time, MTC has had a 344% increase in sales. Marquardt’s focus is on integrity, performance, leadership and innovation in delivering services to government customers.

He is a leader in numerous job training, education, industry and civic organizations.