Historic Nonprofit Moving to the Next Level

by Maddie Christensen

This winter, three new board members will add a wealth of knowledge and experience to take an innovative nonprofit to the next level. LeGrand R. Curtis Jr., recently released Church Historian and Recorder and emeritus General Authority Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, has volunteered to serve on the Board of Directors for the Wilford Woodruff Papers Foundation. Brad Sawyer, Senior Vice President at Merrill Lynch, a Bank of America company, is also joining the team to assist on the Development and Finance Committees. Greg Lake, the new Welfare and Self-Reliance Manager for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is returning to the Board after serving a mission in Sweden with his wife, Lisa. He served as the first President of the Wilford Woodruff Papers Foundation and also contributed to the Joseph Smith Papers. 

These three will join a prestigious group that includes Jordan Clements, Board Chair and Woodruff descendant; Kristy Taylor, Board Secretary; Jason Kotter, co-founder of Athlos Academies and founding Board member; Paxton Gray, CEO of 97th Floor; Craig Earnshaw, founder of LifeLink; Joan Boren, educator and Director of the Obsidian Foundation; Sarah Dunn, representative of the Sorenson Legacy Foundation; Jake Nichol, business and finance leader; and Jennifer Mackley, the Foundation’s Executive Director.

They all understand, in the words of LeGrand Curtis, that “to capture the history [of the Church], to collect it, to preserve it, and to share it, is a terrific work.” Building on the groundbreaking efforts of the Joseph Smith Papers, with the last of their 26 volumes being published in June 2023, the Wilford Woodruff Papers will extend the transcribed history of the Church another 54 years.

We are excited to welcome each new Board member,” says Foundation President, Ed Evans. “Their talents will accelerate our progress in making Wilford Woodruff's record of the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ universally accessible, searchable, and available to the rising generation.

New Church history is coming to light in never-before-published documents. The Foundation's goal is to publish over 100,000 pages online in less than ten years. Thousands of transcribed pages are already available at wilfordwoodruffpapers.org/documents, including Wilford’s journals, missionary records, letters, discourses, autobiographies, and histories. With more than 70% of its staff under the age of 30, the Wilford Woodruff Papers Project owes its success over the past two years to dozens of university student interns and over one hundred volunteers working under the leadership of Executive Editor Steve Harper to transcribe the documents and prepare them for publication. Internship funding and donations from individuals continue to sustain the extraordinary effort of this unique nonprofit organization. 

The progress since the Project began in 2020 would not have been possible without the support of the Church History Department and Library, technological assistance from BYU and BYU–Idaho, and partnerships with FamilySearch, Meridian Magazine, FAIR Latter-day Saints, and Book of Mormon Central. 

To learn more about the Project and the upcoming “Building Latter-day Faith” Conference hosted by the Wilford Woodruff Papers Foundation on March 4, 2023, please visit wilfordwoodruffpapers.org.