2014 Distinguished Alumni



Rebecca Chavez-Houck graduated from the University of Utah in 1982 with a bachelor's degree in communication and journalism, followed by a master's in public administration in 2006. As an adjunct faculty member of the University's master of public administration program, she specializes in nonprofit administration and volunteer management.

Rebecca's professional career includes service in nonprofit organizations and in public affairs. She has worked for the Utah Public Employees' Association, Girl Scouts of Utah, Hal Gardiner Public Relations, the Natural History Museum of Utah, and Centro de la Familia de Utah. Rebecca directed community affairs at Centro de la Familia for eight years and served as interim CEO twice during that time.

Rebecca was elected to the Utah House of Representatives in 2008. She serves as Democratic Minority Assistant Whip, co-chair of the House Ethics Standing Committee, and Vice Chair of the Latino Voting and Elections Task Force of the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators.

In 2013, Rebecca received the Outstanding Achievement Award in Public Service from the YWCA and the Pete Suazo Political Action Award from the LGBTQ community groups of Utah. She was recognized in 2012 by the Community Foundation of Utah as one of the "Enlightened 50" individuals who make a difference in the lives of Utahns.

Rebecca and her husband Martin Houck live in Salt Lake City with their two children, Erica and Michael.



Siegfried Karsten earned three degrees from the University of Utah including a bachelor's degree in mathematics in 1958, a master's degree in economics in 1962, and a Ph.D. in 1970 in economics.

During his professional career, Siegfried worked as a systems analyst for Hercules Powder Company where he developed a computerized management information system. He also worked with the state of Utah to conduct demand and elasticity studies for the electricity and natural gas industries.

Siegfried served on a number of university faculties including the University of Utah as an adjunct professor of economics, the University of Wyoming, and the State University of West Georgia. He was a Fulbright Professor at Jilin University in Changchun, China and at Ernst-Moritz Arndt University in Greifswald, Germany.

Siegfried has written several columns on industrial policy, consumer behavior, environment and development, and China's and the Soviet Union's approaches to socialist social market economics. He is the author of Business Forecasting and Economic Cycles.

In 1999, Siegfried and his wife Ellen established a fellowship in honor of their friends, Mary and Frank Howard. The fellowship is awarded to an economics graduate student at the U. In 2002, they established the Siegfried and Ellen Karsten Endowed Foster Scholarship Program- a scholarship given to a young woman who has grown up within the foster care system.