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Lila B. Bkorklund

Founder, 10/28/1914 – 4/25/2002

Lila B. Bjorklund’s achievements are many and varied. But they all express her commitment to fairness, compassion, and real, practical assistance. It was not enough to be concerned about troubled children – she put a roof over their heads and taught them responsible behavior.

It was not enough to found a program for troubled girls – she also managed it, 40 – 50 hours a week, without financial compensation, for over 25 years. It was not enough to build one group home – she built four.

It was not enough to build four group homes – she opened many treatment foster homes to care for younger victims of abuse and neglect.

It was not enough to provide a safe home for over 200 children a year – she instituted a program to teach their parents to help them, so they could remain with their families, and together they could heal and learn to live with mutual respect and caring.

With Lila, as long as there were troubled children, she could never do enough. A quick list of her accomplishments gives us a picture of her unparalleled service:

  • Founded Utah Girls’ Village, which later became Utah Youth Village.
  • Worked for better detention facilities and juvenile courts as Chair of the Salt Lake Council of Women. She is a member of their Hall of Fame.
  • Chaired the Utah State Board of Education where she worked with Title IX (nine) and its effect on girls in elementary and secondary education.
  • Served as President of the PTA, where she pioneered their Critical Issues Conference.
  • Initiated legislation mandating testing of all newborns for PKU, enabling thousands of children to lead full, healthy lives.
  • Influenced legislation on child abuse and neglect, driver’s education, school lunches, and educational funding.
  • Co-founded the Intermountain Specialized Abuse Treatment Clinic for victims of sexual abuse.

Lila served on over 40 organizations, task forces, and committees, including the Governor’s Committee on Children and Youth. She has received numerous honors, including the national JC Penney Golden Rule Award, the national Thousand Points of Light Award, and many local awards including the Utah Women’s Achievement Award, the Governor’s Lifetime Achievement Award from the Utah Commission on Volunteers, and the Child Advocate of the Year Award from the Utah Chapter of the Association to Prevent Child Abuse.

Her greatest satisfaction in life was the genuine love the children at Utah Youth Village felt for her. Even in her wheelchair, Lila attended each graduation from the Village and gave the child a handmade quilt.

Lila gave her own furniture, money, books, goodies, gifts, clothes, and anything she had to youth in need. She ruined a family car hauling building materials to that first group home, and for many years, Utah Youth Village’s offices were in Lila’s home.

One Village youth, whose family had abandoned her, held her wedding reception at Lila’s home. Long after the youth left the Village, Lila kept in touch with them and continued to give them love and support. With Lila, there is no better quote with which to honor her than her own: “Help one child, help generations to come.”

Gary L. Crocker

Founder, 10/28/1914 – 4/25/2002

Gary L. Crocker is a self-made man, a nationally recognized entrepreneur, and a man with a deep conviction to serve mankind. He also has served as chairman of the Utah Youth Village for the past 25 years.

He is president and managing director of Crocker Ventures LLC., a privately held life science investment firm that funds biotechnology and medical device companies. Crocker also currently serves as chairman of the board of both Nexus Orthopedics and publicly traded Merrimack Pharmaceutical, which he joined as a board member in 2005.

Crocker founded Research Medical, a manufacturer and marketer of specialty cardiac catheters and related medical devices used in open heart surgeries. Forbes recognized the business as one of “America’s Best 200 Small Growth Companies” for six consecutive years, and it generated more than 20 percent average annual growth in sales and earnings. After 14 years, Crocker sold the firm in 1997 to Baxter International’s Edwards Life Science division in a $236 million acquisition, hailed at the time as the largest medical device merger in Utah history.

Prior to launching Research Medical, Crocker was vice president of business development and director of marketing for Sorenson Research; he negotiated the 1980 sale of the firm to Abbott Laboratories. He also served as an internal strategic analyst for Baxter International.

He has held senior leadership positions with several other life science companies, including serving as board chairman for ARUP Laboratories, co-founder and director of Theratech Inc., and as a director of Interleuken Genetics Inc., LineaGen Genetics and The Med-Design Corporation. Crocker also served as a member of the Federal Reserve Branch of San Francisco board from 1999 to 2007.

He is a former vice chair of the University of Utah’s Board of Trustees, member of University Hospital’s Board of Directors and director of the University of Utah Research Foundation. He also served as chairperson of the University of Utah’s College of Science Advisory Board and is an inductee of the College of Science’s Hall of Fame.

Crocker currently serves as the chairperson of the University of Utah’s Center for Medical Innovation and on the boards of the Sorenson Legacy Foundation and Utah Symphony/Utah Opera.

He and his wife, Ann, donated funding in 2001 for the Crocker Science House, which provides housing for science honors students, and a scholarship program for science interns. In 2010, Gary and Ann made the anchor donation for the Crocker Science Center at the U, which opened in April 2018.

Gary Crocker was named Utah Entrepreneur of the Year by both Ernst & Young and the MountainWest Capital Network.

Gary received an honorary doctorate degree from the University of Utah in May of 2019.

Gary is also a member of the President’s Leadership Council at Brigham Young University, in which he played a pivotal role both as a major donor and as a volunteer leader in their recent capital campaign.

He also served as President of the Board for the Utah Opera Company, where he introduced their highly successful Med Night. He is a former trustee of the Deseret Foundation’s Heart-Lung Research Institute.

Gary earned his MBA from the Harvard Business School and a Bachelor of Science degree from Harvard College, where he garnered magna cum laude honors in economics. He and his wife, Ann, have seven children and were honored with the Next Generation Spirit of Giving Award at the Utah 2001 Philanthropy Day.

Eric W. Bjorklund

President & CEO

Eric W. Bjorklund is the Executive Director, President and CEO of Utah Youth Village.

He graduated with honors from the J. Ruben Clark School of Law at Brigham Young University. He became general counsel for Weber State College and associate counsel for the University of Utah. He then practiced law in the Salt Lake area before joining Utah Youth Village full-time in December of 1985.

Eric has been an ardent advocate for Utah’s children by serving as past President of the Utah Youth Providers Network and as a member of various statewide committees including: the Governor’s Commission on Women & Families; the Governor’s Initiative on Families Today; the Utah Division of Family Services Out of Home Care Advisory Committee; the Utah State Bar Committee on Children; and the Coalition of Utah Families.

He served as the Chairperson for the Governor’s Initiative on Families and the 8th Annual National Conference on Child Abuse & Neglect. He is the past President of the Utah Coalition of Child Advocates. He served as chairman of two different committees for the National Teaching-Family Association.

In addition to guiding the growth and operations of Utah Youth Village, Eric initiated and cultivated Utah Youth Village’s creation of Alpine Academy and Smarter Parenting.

In 2000 he received the Outstanding Service Award from the Boy Scouts of America.

He was named the Utah Ernst & Young Social Entrepreneur of the Year in 2012.

He received the Montrose Wolf Distinguished Contributions Award from the Teaching-Family Association in 2013.

In 2017, he was awarded the Lifetime Outstanding Nonprofit Leadership Award from the Utah Nonprofits Association.

He and his wife, Sylvia, have five children and 15 grandchildren. He is the son of Village Founder, Lila Bjorklund.