Utah School & Institutional Trust Lands Administration Names New Director
Management of over 3 million acres of land and hundreds of millions of dollars in public school funding gets new vision and leadership
SALT LAKE CITY (Mar. 31, 2022) – The State of Utah School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration’s (SITLA) Board of Trustees, by unanimous vote and with the consent of Governor Spencer J. Cox, named Michelle McConkie as its new executive director.
“Ms. McConkie understands the intricacies of trust lands inside and out,” said Don Foot, chairman of the land agency’s Board of Trustees. “Trust lands are not public lands; they don’t belong to the state or the general public; they belong to the beneficiaries of the trust, and often that important distinction gets overlooked. Ms. McConkie has been involved in every aspect of the agency, and we couldn’t be more pleased to have a new vision and leader.”
Ms. McConkie was raised on a cattle ranch in rural Utah and joined SITLA as a law clerk in 2001. After graduating with a Juris Doctorate from the S.J. Quinney College of Law at the University of Utah, she returned to SITLA in 2004 as a member of the agency’s legal team. She was the lead attorney for the Planning and Development team, negotiating various complex real estate transactions, large master-planned development agreements, mineral and oil and gas development projects, as well as land and mineral exchanges. In 2019, she was recruited as the agency’s assistant director to head up the Surface department, the largest workgroup in the agency and its most diverse revenue-producing group.
“I’m honored to be given the opportunity to lead such a significant agency,” said McConkie. “Trust lands contributed over $95 million to public schools last year alone; that’s something everyone at SITLA should be proud of. We have highly educated, experienced, and thoughtful staff who are outstanding stewards of our lands who, at the same time, can skillfully develop those lands to increase the revenue we provide our beneficiaries.”
Chairman Foot continued, “With her diverse background and knowledge of the lands and love for the school children of Utah and all of our beneficiaries, she was the perfect candidate to fill the role.”
Trust lands, unlike public lands, are lands allocated by Congress to generate revenue to support specific state institutions. The beneficiaries of trust land revenue include public schools, juvenile justice services, state hospitals, teaching colleges, universities, and reservoirs. The Utah constitution mandates SITLA manage the lands to generate maximum revenue for the current beneficiaries while preserving trust assets for the future.