BYU’s Romney Institute of Public Management awarded Francine Giani, executive director of the Utah Department of Commerce, with its 2011 N. Dale Wright Distinguished Alumni Award.
The award is one of the highest accolades given by the institute and was presented to Giani at a recent luncheon in her honor.
“Francine truly embodies the values that we at the Romney Institute believe a public servant should hold: tireless service, a relentless defense of the public good and grassroots volunteerism,” said David Hart, director of the Romney Institute. “She is truly an amazing person who always impresses with her dogged determination in protecting the public interest.”
The recipient is chosen by the Romney Institute faculty annually to recognize a graduate who has demonstrated service and leadership in the work environment and community, maintained and exhibited high standards of excellence and gained the respect and loyalty of colleagues, peers and family. The award was named for former Romney Institute director and professor of 33 years N. Dale Wright, who attended the luncheon and presented Giani with a painting he made for her.
Gov. Gary R. Herbert declared Nov. 11 as Francine Giani Day.
“Whereas Francine’s career has been defined by her willingness and ability to stand up to corruption, criminals and cowards, and furthermore, Francine’s efforts have brought both public and legal attention to the perils of white-collar crime in Utah,” the declaration read, in addition to other achievements of Giani’s career.
Giani was appointed executive director of the Utah Department of Commerce in July 2005 by Gov. Jon M. Huntsman Jr. As executive director, Giani is responsible for policy making and management over six division directors. Her department is responsible for the regulation of hundreds of industries and the issuance of more than 300,000 licenses.
More recently, Giani was appointed by Herbert as the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Agency’s temporary head following the discovery of mismanagement and corruption within the department.
Giani spoke about her responsibilities in government and the impact one agency can have on the public interest.
“You might be surprised at what aspects of your lives are affected by the DABC operations,” Giani said in remarks at the luncheon. “School lunches statewide are funded, crime and impaired driving are reduced when the DABC properly enforces its standards. It has been eye opening to me to discover how much I can serve the public through an agency that sells alcohol.”
During her speech, Giani also mentioned several faculty members from the Romney Institute who added valuable skills to what she called “her MPA toolkit.”
“I value my professors who worked in the trenches and who generously shared their knowledge and vision,” Giani said. “Their leadership and backgrounds from local and state government to international government and development helped give us a broad scope as well as lessons learned from day to day management in different organizations.”
Giani continued, “I am deeply touched to be recognized by my peers with this award. I salute present students who are working on their MPA degrees. Today it may seem like getting to graduation is your main goal, but you never know where that degree will take you or how you will use your MPA tool kit until the phone rings and you answer, ‘Yes, Governor, I am happy to help.’”
Giani graduated with a bachelor of arts degree in communications from Hunter College and went on to work briefly at ABC News. Previous to her appointment in the Utah Department of Commerce, Giani served as a press secretary and policy adviser to former Utah Gov. Norman H. Bangerter from 1984 to 1992 and as a Centerville City Council member from 1992 to 2000. She was appointed director of the Division of Consumer Protection in 1992, where she strengthened consumer protection laws in Utah.
The Romney Institute of Public Management, part of the Marriott School of Management’s Master of Public Administration program, was named in 1998 for three-term Michigan Gov. George W. Romney. The Romney Institute offers a master’s degree in public administration through both pre-service and executive programs.