IO Ogden Pioneers Spotlight: Jo Packham

The American pioneer is iconic and represents a group of people who were willing to sacrifice what they had for something better. Whether they were pioneers of industry, or took to wagons and handcarts to travel across the country to make a better life for themselves, the pioneers of the past were willing to risk it all. In our July issue, created in a place that celebrates that pioneer spirit with fireworks, barbecues and rodeos, we wanted to highlight and recognize some of the current pioneers in our community. 

We talked to several of these trailblazers who have been vital to the ongoing enrichment and development of Ogden lifestyle and culture. We wanted to learn from them what it takes to be a modern-day pioneer. They include an ambassador and promoter of Ogden tourism, conscientious urban redeveloper, community-minded small business owners, womens’ empowerment publisher/entrepreneur, innovative restaurant owners, and passionate purveyor of local music and nightlife. It’s a small representation of countless community pioneers who have helped shape Ogden, each leaving their own invaluable footprint. Big cheers to ALL the many Ogdenites who had a bee in their bonnet, and facing rivers and broken roads still chose to burn the breeze!

We asked the following questions: 

Was there a catalyst that encouraged you to set out on your track, a moment, a mindset or person that made your “destination” more attainable? Who paved the way for you, either in your field or in your life? What sacrifices have you had to make in order to pursue your vision? What untouched territory do you hope to explore? Using the pioneer metaphor, what were some unexpected “rivers” you had to ford, or moments you wanted to turn back along your journey?

We talked to one of Ogden’s most influential current pioneers:

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JO PACKHAM
Entrepreneur/Publisher

Jo Packham, a home-grown Ogden girl, became involved in downtown Ogden around 1980 when she moved her publishing company, Chapelle Ltd., to what was one of the first newly renovated buildings on Historic 25th Street. The renovation was undertaken by another Ogden visionary, Janica Pantone, who had a clear vision of what 25th Street could be and the business acumen to understand that Jo, and her all-woman publishing team, were the perfect foundation to begin to build a renovated, safe, prosperous, downtown Historic Ogden. 

The transition of moving to and becoming residents of 25th Street was not an easy one. For the first several years it was necessary during the winter months for the police to escort the women employees to the parking lot because it simply wasn’t safe to be behind the buildings unescorted after dark. 

Jo’s publishing company, Chapelle Ltd., prospered and she purchased a second building across the street.  Her daughter, Sara Toliver, joined the company and together they created a series of three retail stores being honored as the National Retailer of the Year for two consecutive years - the first time a retail establishment in the State of Utah had ever been recognized. 

From the first day in her office with her view of “the street” Jo had her own vision of what Historic 25th Street and downtown Ogden could become. She established the Historic 25 Association; and, together with Sara, Kim Buttschardt of Roosters, Heidi Harwood of Brewski’s & the City Club, Todd Ferraro of Bistro 25 they worked diligently towards the growth and revitalization of the downtown area. Working with Matthew Godfrey, Jo became Chair of Christmas Village in Ogden and for 11 years created a celebration that is free to everyone and that has become the largest holiday celebration in the State of Utah. Additionally, Jo was Chair of The Arts for Ogden, and created the Artist’s Painted Horses display in downtown during Ogden Pioneer Days. Her newest venture is URBAN STUDIO 25 – a unique and extraordinary event space on 25th Street. 

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Jo’s day job as author and publisher is “telling the stories of women whose names you may have never heard, or you may not remember, but who are the very foundations of our families, our communities and our future.” She is creator/Editor-in-Chief of four award-winning WWC magazines and a leading innovator in the handmade publishing market for over 40 years. Jo is currently partnering with Disticor Publishing to produce the best-selling magazines: WHERE WOMEN CREATE, Inspiring Work Spaces of Extraordinary Women; where women create WORK, The Passion of Success; WHERE WOMEN COOK—The Heart & Soul of Cooking; and her newest imprint: WHAT WOMEN CREATE, Inspiration for Your Imagination. 

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Leadership

“All of us who were on “the street” in the early days were pioneers and we knew then and still believe today that, “If you are truly a pioneer in whatever it is you choose to do, you will probably have to pave the way yourself.” That does not mean that you are alone but it means that you are the leader who builds a team or community that works with you under your direction and vision. Hopefully, each of us had someone in the beginning or along the way to encourage us. For me, those people were my mom and dad who believed that I could do whatever it was that I could dream of doing. I just simply had to learn how and keep at it until I had created or become what I wanted to be.” 

Vision & Passion

“Pioneers are by their very definition those who open or prepare the way for others to follow and those who originate the development of their vision. As a pioneer, each is inspired, even more than encouraged, actually convinced, they have a “new” idea. They have a great idea. They have an idea that needs to be brought to fruition, sooner rather than later. And if the entrepreneur is informed on many levels and works however hard and long is necessary then the great idea is likely to succeed, and those who doubted the idea as doable will recognize and acknowledge the entrepreneur’s pioneer spirit, vision, and passion.