SALT LAKE CITY – August 27, 2020 – Utah State Treasurer David Damschen, the School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration (SITLA) and the Land Trusts Protection and Advocacy Office today announced the appointments of two new Land Trusts Protection and Advocacy Committee members. Treasurer Damschen has appointed Richard Ellis and the SITLA Board of Trustees has appointed Louie Cononelos to each serve a four-year term on the committee beginning on September 1. Ellis is replacing Mel Brown, and Cononelos is replacing Tom Bachtell.
During the 2018 general session, the Legislature authorized the creation of the Land Trusts Protection and Advocacy Office to advocate for Utah trust lands beneficiaries, oversee SITLA and the School and Institutional Trust Funds Office (SITFO) administrations and help the public understand and support these endowments. The office is overseen by the state treasurer and the Land Trusts Protection and Advocacy Committee, which consists of the following five members: two individuals appointed by the SITLA Board of Trustees, one individual appointed by the SITFO Board of Trustees, one individual appointed by the state treasurer and a State Board of Education staff member who administers the School LAND Trust Program.
“Mr. Brown and Mr. Bachtell laid important groundwork for the Land Trusts Protection and Advocacy Committee and the Land Trusts Protection and Advocacy Office. I am grateful for their outstanding service and contributions to the school and institutional trusts system,” Treasurer Damschen said. “I am confident that Mr. Ellis and Mr. Cononelos will build upon their work, as they assume their new roles as advocates for Utah trust lands beneficiaries.”
Ellis brings valuable perspective and institutional investment management experience to the committee from his time managing the trust investments and the Public Treasurers’ Investment Fund as state treasurer, serving on numerous boards and commissions of the state, assisting in the formation of SITFO and managing $16 billion in assets in his current role at my529.
Cononelos has more than 30 years of experience in the mining industry. He has held various roles at Rio Tinto Kennecott, University of Utah, Salt Lake Technical College and Salt Lake School District. Cononelos has also served on numerous boards throughout his career, including the SITLA Board of Trustees, the Utah Mining Association Board of Directors and Executive Committee, the Salt Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau Board of Trustees, the Utah Manufacturers Association Board of Directors and The Road Home Board of Directors.
The three other committee members’ terms expire in 2022.
About the School and Institutional Trusts System
When Utah became a state in 1896, Congress granted approximately seven million acres of land into 12 separate trusts for the support of state institutions, the largest being a trust for the perpetual support of public schools. The land has been administered by SITLA since 1994. In 2014, the Utah State Legislature created SITFO as an independent state agency to invest the funds produced by SITLA’s administration of the land. During the 2018 general session, the Legislature authorized the creation of the Land Trusts Protection and Advocacy Office to advocate for Utah trust lands beneficiaries, oversee the SITLA and SITFO administrations and help the public understand and support these endowments.