Sheri L. Dew

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Sheri L. Dew
Second Counselor in the Relief Society General Presidency
April 5, 1997 (1997-04-05) – April 6, 2002 (2002-04-06)
Called by Mary Ellen W. Smoot
Predecessor Aileen H. Clyde
Successor Anne C. Pingree
Personal details
Born (1953-11-21) November 21, 1953 (age 60)
Ulysses, Kansas, United States
Alma mater Brigham Young University
Parents Charles and JoAnn P. Dew


Sheri L. Dew (born November 21, 1953) is an American author, publisher, and president and chief executive officer of the Deseret Book Company, headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah. Dew has also been a religious leader in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) and an inspirational speaker. In 2003, she was described as “the most prominent single [unmarried] LDS woman right now.”[1]

Deseret Book Company owns two retail chains (Deseret Book and Seagull), two publishing companies (Deseret Book and Covenant), an events division (Time Out for Women), a digital division, a magazine (LDS Living) and a film-distribution company (Excel).

Personal life[edit]

Dew was born November 21, 1953, in Ulysses, Kansas, to Charles and JoAnn Peterson Dew. The oldest of five children, she grew up on a "sprawling grain farm" and attended local schools.[2][3][4] Of this time, she has said:

I drove a tractor almost as soon as I could reach the pedals. I know how to set an irrigation tube, and I helped with the harvest. . . . On the farm you learn early that you reap what you sow. . . . I am innately very shy, and I have struggled with that challenge for years. My work has helped because I’ve had to interview people from all walks of life.[2]

Dew told interviewers in 2002 and 2004 that as a teenager she was 5 feet, 10 inches tall and was a standout in high school basketball, averaging 23 points and 17 rebounds a game.[2][3] A Bloomberg Businessweek reporter wrote in 2012 that Dew had the "friendly, no-nonsense manner" of a high school basketball coach."[4][5] Another writer noted in 2010 that Dew's "confident and collected demeanor always kept her on task." [6]

She learned the piano and traveled on three USO tours to Alaska, Europe, the Mediterranean and Asia as an accompanist during her college years at Brigham Young University (BYU), where she earned a bachelor's degree in history, with an emphasis in American religious history.[2][4][7]

She was held back by her shyness from trying out for the 1971 women's basketball team and only learned some thirty years later that BYU had gone through the season one player short that year. "That was a very interesting lesson," she said. "I thought I was good, but I'll never know. My fear and shyness paralyzed me. My whole life I've felt like I didn't quite measure up. ... It's one of my biggest regrets. I've never gotten over it."[4]

Career[edit]

Beginning[edit]

After graduating from BYU, Dew moved into the publishing business associated with the LDS church, starting out as an assistant editor at Bookcraft beginning in 1978. She spent the next six years as an editor and associate publisher at This People magazine.[2][4]

Deseret Book[edit]

Dew joined Deseret Book in 1988 as an associate editor and became director of publishing in 1989, vice president of publishing in 1993, and executive vice president in 2000. She was named the president and CEO of the company in March 2002, succeeding Ronald A. Millett. At the time Deseret Book consisted of a retail chain of some 40 stores and a publishing division.[8] Bloomberg Businessweek reported in 2012 that Deseret Book was a "flailing" business when Dew took it over but that she "pulled the publisher and distributor out of the red 10 years ago."[5]

In 2002 the company launched its Time Out for Women event series,[9] and in 2004 it acquired Excel Entertainment, which brought Deseret Book into film distribution. Some of Excel's films are Saints and Soldiers, Forever Strong, The Work and the Glory, Seventeen Miracles and Saints and Soldiers: Airborne Creed.[10]

In 2006 it acquired the Seagull retail chain of twenty-six bookstores and Covenant Publishing, which publishes and distributes books, games, and gifts.[11]

In June 2011 the company introduced Deseret Bookshelf, a free e-reader application for Apple and Android mobile devices, with nearly 1,500 digital titles for purchase. On a personal level, Dew noted that the Bookshelf app had "changed the way I research and study the gospel" because "I can always have my full library with me." The app allows the researcher to search all Deseret Book titles at one time as well as other associated Gospel references.[12]

Broadcasting[edit]

Dew is a director of the Bonneville International Corporation,[7] a broadcasting organization owned by the LDS Church.

Public activities[edit]

Politics, government, and charity[edit]

Dew is a member of both the BYU Marriott School of Management’s National Advisory Council and the President’s Leadership Council for BYU-Hawaii. In March 2003 the White House appointed her a member of the U.S. Delegation to the Commission on the Status of Women and Girls at the United Nations.[13]

Dew has said she has a greater liking for Republican political positions, particularly on social issues, explaining that "I am a Midwestern farmer's daughter," but that she has "many, many times" voted for Democrats. She has been asked to run for political office, but said she is so shy she "can't even ask for the full can of apple juice on the airplane" so she couldn't very well ask for votes.[14]

After a 1999 trip to Ghana, Dew began to spearhead Chapters of Hope, a program to send children’s books to impoverished areas of the world. Through 2011, nearly 50,000 books had been shipped to Ghana, the Pacific Islands, Russia, Eastern Europe, Zimbabwe and elsewhere by that organization.[15]

LDS Church[edit]

Dew was a counselor to Mary Ellen W. Smoot in the general presidency of the women’s Relief Society from 1997 to 2002,[16] the first unmarried woman called to this position in the LDS Church.[4]

As an author, Dew was the authorized biographer for two LDS Church presidents, Ezra Taft Benson and Gordon B. Hinckley.

Since 2009, Dew has contributed to the Mormon Channel's Conversations program, where she has interviewed some high-profile members of the LDS Church.[17]

Cancer survivor[edit]

In 2006, Dew was diagnosed with breast cancer, revealed as "three tiny spots, almost invisible to the naked eye," and since 2010 she has been active in promoting awareness of the disease among Utah women. "I'm actually a poster child for early diagnosis," Dew said.[6]

Motivational speaking[edit]

Topics[edit]

Dew has given many motivational speeches to audiences in the United States and around the world, traveling in Colombia, Africa, the Philippines, Cambodia, Ecuador and Japan. Some of her speeches have included:

  • "The Power of Virtue," World Congress of Families, 2009.[18][19]
  • "Awake, Arise, and Come Unto Christ," May 1, 2008.[20]
  • "True Blue, Through and Through," 2004.[21]
  • "You Were Born to Lead, You Were Born for Glory," December 2003.[22]
  • "Live Worthily," 2003[23]
  • "Knowing Who You Are — And Who You Have Always Been," 2001.[24]
  • "Are We Not All Mothers?" 2001.[25]
  • "Stand Tall and Stand Together," 2000.[26]
  • "Are You The Woman I Think You Are?" October 1997.[27]
  • "Famous Last Words," 1999[28]
  • "We Are Women of God," 1999.[29]
  • "Our Only Chance," 1999.[30]
  • "Living on the Lord's Side of the Line."[31]

2004 Republican National Convention[edit]

Dew opened the 2004 Republican National Convention with a prayer after, she said, she had received a telephone request from "out of the blue and after she "had to ask myself if this would appear too partisan, and I decided it was never inappropriate to pray." She said she thought it "remarkable" that an LDS church member was invited for the honor, "and even more so a woman."[14][32]

Same-sex marriage[edit]

Dew "drew criticism"[33] resulting from remarks she made on February 28, 2004, at a Washington, D.C., meeting of the Family Action Council International,[34] an interfaith group.[35] According to Lee Davidson, a Deseret News reporter who was present, Dew quoted a statement by journalist Dorothy Thompson in 1941:

saying that before World War II would be over, every person would either stand for or against [German dictator Adolf] Hitler—and that trying not to make any choice was in fact making one, for Hitler.

Dew said in calm tones that the same is true in the fight for the traditional family, and everyone will support or fight it. "If we do not act in behalf of the family, that is itself an act of opposition to the family," she said.

Dew did add, "At first it may be extreme to imply a comparison between the atrocities of Hitler and what is happening in terms of contemporary threats against the family—but maybe not," and added she feels that breaking up the family will break up society.[35][36]

The next month the Affirmation: Gay & Lesbian Mormons organization, which is not officially affiliated with the LDS Church, issued a statement expressing “outrage” at Dew's remarks,[34] and in September of the same year the president of the Human Rights Campaign and the strategic director of the National Black Justice Coalition called on President George W. Bush to repudiate Dew's “deeply offensive comments about GLBT Americans.”[37]

In April 2005 Dew said that her point had nothing to do with Hitler. “I wasn't comparing anybody to Hitler,” she said. “Hitler is irrelevant to the point I was trying to make.”

“I have friends living an openly gay lifestyle with kids,” she added. “In every instance, they are caring parents who love their kids and their kids love them. They know I feel it's not my prerogative to judge them. It's their right to choose. ... Those that deal with same-sex attraction have my respect.”[33]

Awards[edit]

  • 2009 Lifetime Achievement Award for "innovation and creativity" at Deseret Book[38]
  • 2005 People of Vision Award by the People of Sight
  • Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge Gold Medal and Certificate of Merit 2004
  • Bay Area Distinguished Public Service Award by BYU Management Society 2001
  • BYU Exemplary Womanhood Award 2000

Writings[edit]

She has authored several books, including the biographies of two presidents of the LDS church — Gordon B. Hinckley and Ezra Taft Benson. She also has written a biography of the 1985 Miss America, Sharlene Wells. All of her works were published in Salt Lake City by Deseret Book.

  • Are We Not All Mothers? 2009[41]
  • Saying It Like It Is, 2009[42]
  • God Wants a Powerful People, 2007[43]
  • If Life Were Easy, It Wouldn't Be Hard: And Other Reassuring Truths, 2005[44]
  • No One Can Take Your Place, 2004[45]
  • No Doubt About It, 2001[46]
  • Go Forward with Faith: The Biography of Gordon B. Hinckley, 1996[47]
  • Ezra Taft Benson: A Biography, 1987[48]
  • Sharlene Wells, Miss America, 1985[49]

See also[edit]

  • Barbara Thompson, the next unmarried woman (after Dew) to serve as a member of the Relief Society general presidency

References[edit]

  1. ^ Eric Samuelsen, quoted in "Play Examines Singles Stigma", BYU NewsNet, 24 February 2003.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Sheri L. Dew, Second Counselor, Relief Society General Presidency," Ensign, May 1997, p. 109.
  3. ^ a b "Sheri L. Dew," MormonWiki
  4. ^ a b c d e f Doug Robinson, "Sheri Dew: Living the Unexpected Life," Deseret News, October 28, 2002
  5. ^ a b Caroline Winter, "How the Mormons Make Money," Bloomberg Businessweek, July 18, 2012
  6. ^ a b Wendy Leonard, "Sheri Dew Inspires With Story of Breast Cancer Survival, Encourages Mammograms," KSL.com
  7. ^ a b Bloomberg Business Week profile
  8. ^ "Deseret Book Appoints New President," Church News, March 2, 2002
  9. ^ About Time Out for Women
  10. ^ Janae Ashton, "Deseret Book Announces Acquisition of Excel Entertainment Group," Universe, Brigham Young University, November 15, 2004
  11. ^ "Deseret Book Buys Seagull and Covenant Communications," KSL.com, December 28, 2006
  12. ^ Ryan Morgenegg, "Deseret Bookshelf: Learning the Gospel Like Never Before," Church News, March 10, 2012.
  13. ^ "Dew, Sheri L.," World Congress of Families
  14. ^ a b Jerry Spangler, "Prayer by Dew Gets GOP Going," Deseret Morning News, August 31, 2004
  15. ^ "Chapters of Hope," Deseret Books
  16. ^ "3 New Leaders for Relief Society," Church News, April 6, 2002
  17. ^ Programs, Mormon Channel
  18. ^ Sherri L. Dew, "The Power of Virtue", Church News.
  19. ^ a b Full text
  20. ^ BYU Women's Conference
  21. ^ Brigham Young University
  22. ^ Brigham Young University
  23. ^ Avery McKinney, Universe, BYU, December 9, 2003
  24. ^ BYU Women's Conference, 2001
  25. ^ Ensign, November 2001
  26. ^ LDS General Conference, 2000
  27. ^ Lightplanet.com
  28. ^ Video of speech at BYU
  29. ^ Church News
  30. ^ Church News
  31. ^ Audio recording
  32. ^ Text of Dew's invocation opening the Republican National Convention, August 30, 2004
  33. ^ a b Tad Walch, "Lack of Morals Called Recipe for Family Disaster," Deseret News, April 6, 2005.
  34. ^ a b "Anti-Gay Coalition Meets Near Washington DC," Affirmation Gay and Lesbian Mormons, March 14, 2004
  35. ^ a b Lee Davidson, "Deseret Book President Attacked Unfairly," Deseret Morning News, March 17, 2004.
  36. ^ Another version of this statement is at Peggy Proctor, "What It Means to Be Anxiously Engaged in the Political Process," Meridian magazine, April 27, 2009
  37. ^ "Gay Leaders in US Call on Bush to Repudiate Inflammatory Speakers," UK Gay News, August 30, 2004
  38. ^ "Utah Genius Awards Honor Sheri Dew, Patent Holders," KSL.com
  39. ^ LDS Women's Book Review
  40. ^ ByCommonConsent.com
  41. ^ Goodreads.com review
  42. ^ Goodreads.com review
  43. ^ Open Library listing
  44. ^ Open Library listing
  45. ^ Goodreads.com review
  46. ^ Goodreads.com review
  47. ^ Goodreads.com review
  48. ^ Goodreads.com review
  49. ^ Goodreads.com review

Further reading[edit]

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints titles
Preceded by
Aileen H. Clyde
Second Counselor in the Relief Society
General Presidency

April 5, 1997 (1997-04-05) – April 6, 2002 (2002-04-06)
Succeeded by
Anne C. Pingree