SALT LAKE CITY – Meet James T. Burton, Kirton McConkie shareholder and German Honorary Consul to Utah.
German is the third most common language spoken in the State of Utah according to Ben Blatt from Slate Magazine, and is included as an option for dual language immersion at two elementary schools in the state. Utah’s German ties date back to the mid-1800s when multiple Germans immigrated to Utah, including the renowned Karl G. Maeser, founder of Brigham Young University. Additionally, Utah is home to Christkindlmarkt-SLC, a well-known traditional German Christmas market held at This is the Place Heritage Park each December. Utah is also home to a German appointed and U.S. Department of State approved Honorary German Consul, James T. Burton. This appointment is an honor from Germany not only for Mr. Burton but also to the entire State of Utah which has built strong ties with the country.
Prior to Mr. Burton’s appointment as the German Honorary Consul to Utah, he participated in consular duties as the unofficial German Honorary Vice Consul to Utah. The former German Honorary Consul is Charles Dahlquist, who served as the first President of the Utah Consular Corps, a former National Commissioner for Boy Scouts of America and the former General Young Men’s President for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Mr. Dahlquist and Mr. Burton met each other at Kirton McConkie where Mr. Dahlquist is also a shareholder. Germany has a mandatory retirement age of 65 for diplomats, which was extended to 67 for Mr. Dahlquist so that he could personally have a hand in choosing the next German Honorary Consul to Utah. Mr. Burton was recommended by Mr. Dahlquist, and after careful consideration and an interview by the German Consul General, he was approved by the German Foreign Mission and U.S. State Department in 2014 to become the next German Honorary Consul to Utah. Mr. Burton values his relationship with Mr. Dahlquist so much that he even named his youngest son Charlie after him.
Mr. Burton’s family connection to Germany is generations deep. His grandfather served a mission in Germany for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Following this, he later served as the president to the Church’s European Mission twice, and while in this position ordained Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf as a missionary. Mr. Burton’s father followed in his grandfather’s footsteps by serving his own mission in German-speaking Switzerland, after having lived many years in Germany as a youth. Many of Mr. Burton’s family members, including one of his brothers and a brother-in-law, all served missions in Germany. Although he is not German himself, Mr. Burton grew up with a deep love for Germany and the German people. He was thrilled when his time came to serve a mission for his church and he was also called to serve in Germany.
One of the reasons that Mr. Burton enjoys his service as German Honorary Consul to Utah is because of the opportunity to stay connected to the country and people. Mr. Burton takes advantage of every opportunity to use his knowledge of the German language. He still practices German and speaks German with the 30-40 Germans who use the passport and other services of the German Honorary Consulate in Utah every month.
Even though his consulate office and legal office are in the same building, Mr. Burton takes care to ensure that he keeps his duties for his positions separate. However, he also realizes these positions don’t exist entirely independently. “Without Kirton McConkie,” he explained, “I couldn’t be a consul. They provide the assistance and office space to make this service possible. Kirton McConkie did the same for Charles when he was the German Honorary Consul before me. I want to thank them for their public service and support.”
Serving as the German Honorary Consul to Utah as well as the Vice-President to the Utah Consular Corps is time-consuming. Mr. Burton shares that consuls, such as himself, form the “necessary and valuable bridge” between their country of representation, the state, and various organizations. As a bridge, consuls are able to understand culture, languages, issues and willingly help those involved in the exchange to feel comfortable.
Utah is an appealing state for Germany and other countries to work with because of its strong economy and educated workforce – unemployment is low and Utah runs consistently fiscally in the black. Of course, the relationship is reciprocal: Germany is a strong partner for Utah because it is one of the largest economies and exporters in the world.
The designation of “Honorary Consul” might seem like a formality -- nominal in nature, an arcane diplomatic convention. However, Jonathon Tichy, Honorary Consul of the Czech Republic in Salt Lake City, thinks the title can be misleading: there is real, substantive work that goes into building relationships that connect Utah to the nations of the world. “It’s not just a fancy name to give somebody who’s been supportive of another country,” he explains. “It has substance to it.”
Originally from Utah County, Tichy grew up in Orem and graduated from Orem High School. In college, an international focus drove his studies: he has a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree in public policy with an emphasis in international trade and foreign policy from BYU. After graduating with his Masters, Tichy leveraged his global savvy as a special State Department appointee stationed at the American Embassy in Prague, Czech Republic.
Tichy is of Czech descent, and he cites his family as his main connection to the country -- cousins and relatives still live in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. His in-country experience began with an LDS mission in the early 1990s followed by a year of work and graduate studies. Including his State Department assignment, Tichy has spent nearly eight years in the country.
While on State Department assignment in Prague, he worked as a political and economic advisor and senior staff aide (Chief-of-Staff) to the ambassador, assisting in speech writing and policy development and acting as a liaison to senior government officials at a critical time in Czech history. “Back in the 90s,” he remembers, “when a lot of the countries of Central and Eastern Europe were in the process of transitioning to democracy, there was a lot of activity going on -- we were trying to be supportive of the democratic forces in those countries and make sure that they could take root and build a firm foundation for the future.”
After finishing his State Department appointment in 2000, Tichy had plans of returning to the Foreign Service and continuing to work overseas. But sometimes, he noted, “life just kind of has a funny way of sending you in another direction.” Instead, Tichy decided to attend law school at BYU and then enter the job market, working as an international lawyer in Las Vegas and then in Salt Lake City. After a 13-year stint at a large firm in downtown Salt Lake City where he was head of the international and government relations practice group, Tichy went independent and now operates his own international firm, Envoy Legal and Consulting International.
As for his consular duties, Tichy feels his experience in international matters gave him a solid foundation for performing his consular duties. In 2008, Tichy helped organize a visit to Utah for the Czech Ambassador to the UN. During that visit, he remembers, “[the ambassador] realized how dynamic Utah was and came to believe that it would make sense for the Czech Republic to establish an honorary consulate here.” Shortly after the visit, Tichy was invited to begin the process of accreditation as the Honorary Consul and was officially installed in May 2010. Now, nearly a decade in to his services, he defines his responsibilities with a helpful acronym. The duties of an Honorary Consul, he says, can be explained by the “Three Cs”: Consular, Cultural and Commercial.
As a consular officer, Tichy assists Czech citizens in emergency situations. Whether it’s a lost passport, an injury, or legal trouble, the consul can help Czech citizens get the help they need and can replace and authenticate documents and work with local law enforcement and others. “The idea is to be that safety net for the Czech community, whether they are people who are living and working here, or people who are just visiting,” Tichy says. “My job is just to make sure that their rights are protected and observed and that they’re treated fairly in accordance with the law or to help them get any critical assistance they need while they are in Utah.”
It’s not all crisis mitigation and paperwork, though. Tichy also works closely with Utah’s vibrant Czech community to support cultural outreach and other activities throughout the state. From a successful Czech language school to a traditional annual Saint Nicholas program, Tichy helps to “promote the good name of the Czech Republic here in Utah.”
A highlight of this cultural outreach is the “Czech That Film” Festival, a travelling event that brings contemporary Czech films and award-winning directors to select venues around North America. The festival has been screening annually in Salt Lake City since 2011 and drawing enthusiastic audiences from both within and outside the Czech community. Tichy sees the festival as an important mark of a strong community. “When we started that program,” Tichy says, “they took the film tour to New York, Los Angeles, and a couple of other bigger cities. They didn’t really think a city the size of Salt Lake would be able to garner much interest in it.” This assumption, of course, was incorrect: Salt Lake has been one of the top cities every single year of the tour in terms of audience participation.
Finally, in the commercial sphere, Tichy looks for opportunities to promote trade between the Czech Republic and Utah by facilitating contacts and connections between Utah and Czech businesses. It’s a case, Tichy feels, that is not very hard to make: “When I deal with or consult with Czech companies or the Czech government,” he says, “I can talk about all of the great things happening in Utah, in terms of our strong economy, our hardworking people. I can get them interested in taking a serious look at Utah as a place where they might want to focus more resources and efforts or maybe expand their business. They see it as a good place to be when they come to America.”
Above all, Tichy sees the recognition of Honorary Consuls as an affirmation of Utah’s strengths. “Choosing to appoint an Honorary Consul in a state like Utah is basically a manifestation of the importance that country places on Utah as a strategic interest,” he explains. “They’re recognizing that Utah is a place where great things are happening, where there’s momentum. It's a credit to the state to have a consular corps that has as many members as it does.”
SALT LAKE CITY - Introducing Robert E. Mansfield, the Honorary Consul to South Korea. Honorary Consul to South Korea, Robert E. Mansfield, is a native of Cincinnati, Ohio. His relationship with South Korea began after graduating high school when he enlisted in the United States Army. Mansfield served in Korea between 1983 and 1984, following in his father’s footsteps, who served during the tail-end of the Korean War in 1953.
Mansfield has served as the Honorary Consul of South Korea for the past eight years, after the Honorary Consul of Ukraine, Jonathan Freedman, suggested that he should seek the opportunity. A graduate of the University of Utah’s Law School, Mansfield is an experienced commercial trial lawyer, and the skills from his profession transfer over to his role as a Honorary Consul. In particular, his expertise in negotiation and persuasion allow him to foster strong relations between Utah and South Korea.
In his time as Honorary Consul, Mansfield cites his advocacy for the Korean War memorial in Memory Grove Park as a special experience. Memory Grove Park, located near the Utah State Capitol, contains a memorial honoring the veterans who fought in the Korean War. This memorial featured a map of the East Sea, the body of water separating Japan and the Korean Peninsula, labeled as the Sea of Japan. The name of this sea is a very important issue to the Korean people: during the time Korea was occupied by Japanese soldiers, Japan sought to have the name changed and Korea was not in a position to defend the historic name. Mansfield was influential in getting the name on the memorial changed to the East Sea, making this the first and only such memorial to use the East Sea, rather than the Sea of Japan.
As Honorary Consul, Mansfield has several goals to foster relations between the US and South Korea. His first goal is to promote Korean culture in Utah. He helped form a group called Friends of Korea with the goal of promoting Korean culture in Utah by working closely with members of the Korean community. Another way he works with Korean expatriates living in Utah is through the Korea Federation. The Federation participates in the Utah Asian Festival each year in June. The festival strives to promote Asian culture, including those of all the Asian and Pacific Islander countries in Utah. In addition, Mansfield hopes to continue to act as a lobbyist for the country to ensure that the Korean community in Utah has more political sway by trying to get the Korean community to band together and speak out in a unified manner. He also has regular contact with the Consulate in San Francisco to promote issues important to Korea. His third goal regarding Utah-Korean relations is to promote trade between Utah and Korea. He has worked with Utah companies who are doing business in Korea to help solve any problems they may encounter and has held multiple seminars on doing business in Korea to promote this connection.
SALT LAKE CITY – Daniel Oswald is the acting President of the Utah Consular Corps and the Honorary Consul to Switzerland. His role as an Honorary Consul first became a possibility in 2008 when the Swiss Honorary Consul in Utah accepted a job offer in Switzerland. The post was vacant for a time period, until the Swiss government determined that Utah was a valuable and strategic location for their interests and set out to find a replacement. All dual Swiss-US citizens living in Utah were contacted and invited to interview for the position. Throughout the interview, process Dan stood out as an excellent candidate for the role. He also received some recommendations from other community members that helped to solidify his candidacy. After a drawn-out confirmation process, he received his official appointment and State Department accreditation in the Spring of 2009.
Switzerland has long been recognized for being the home to some of the world’s largest international organizations and governing bodies. Among the list of organizations headquartered in Switzerland is the International Committee of the Red Cross. The close relationship that the LDS church maintains with the Red Cross and other humanitarian organizations, makes Utah an important partner for Switzerland. Aside from their shared humanitarian efforts, Utah is a common destination for Swiss tourists who are drawn to the state’s national parks.
One of the more rewarding and intriguing experiences he has had while serving as Honorary Consul to Switzerland involved the creation of a documentary film. Several years ago, a documentary film crew came to Utah to produce a film on family history. They were tracing a group of families that originally came through Ellis Island. The crew followed their story to show how they grew, adjusted to life in the United States, and what happened to their posterity. The film crew was interested in Utah because of the vast resources and services available to people interested in conducting family history work.
Daniel also has fond memories of his experiences with the Swiss athletes that competed in the 2002 Winter Olympic Games. He explained that many countries, including Switzerland, had their own ‘house’ where they would conduct TV broadcasts for those watching at home. These broadcasts were especially popular for countries that are known for winter sport destinations. He expressed the sentiment that the Olympics were a wonderful opportunity to showcase Utah and build lasting friendships and connections.
Utah is also a great place for Swiss, and other international companies to do business for a variety of reasons. Utah has a young and highly educated workforce that speak more than 120 languages, German included. Daniel explains that for many years, Utah was a fly-over state and was historically ignored in favor of cities like Los Angeles, Chicago, or Atlanta. As a result, Utah has been one of the best kept secrets in business. However, since its founding in 2001, the Utah Consular Corps has played an important role in reaching out and telling the Utah story. Their efforts, in combination with the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, World Trade Center Utah, and others have brought more and more businesses to the state.
In addition to his role in the Consular Corps, Daniel is both a businessman and an attorney. He received his MBA and JD from Brigham Young University. He has been practicing law since 1988 and remains an active member of the Utah State Bar Association. He previously co-founded and served as CEO of a language technology and services company called MultiLing International. He has also served as the executive director of BYU’s Institute for the Study and Preservation of Ancient Religious Texts. He is happily married with six wonderful children and proudly claims that his wife is his greatest asset.
SALT LAKE CITY--Jonathan Freedman was born and raised in New York. After completion of high school, he came to Utah to attend college at Brigham Young University. Between 1993 and 1995, Freedman served a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Ukraine where he learned Russian and Ukrainian. He returned to BYU and graduated with a degree in Russian in 1998. While Freedman was a student at BYU, he and his two brothers started a clothing and furniture business called Downeast. Today the brothers operate 64 stores in 7 western states.
The root of Freedman’s association with Ukraine was his time there as a missionary, but in 2007, Freedman was referred to and approached by the Ukrainian Ambassador to the United States, His Excellency Oleh Shamshur, and asked if he would be interested in serving as Honorary Consul of Ukraine. Ambassador Shamshur recommended Freedman as Consul, and about a year later he was instated in his current position and the consulate was opened in 2008.
Since his original time in Ukraine and becoming Honorary Consul, Freedman has been to Kyiv several times meeting with various foreign ministers and ministers of economy, culture, education, and others. In efforts to build relations between Utah and Ukraine he has facilitated and fostered trade between Utah and Ukraine.
According to Freedman, there is a nice Ukrainian community here with somewhere around 500 individuals integrated with Russian community in Utah. Some of these Ukrainians have moved here seeking asylum as refugees from the war in the Donbas region. Over two million people have been displaced to other parts of Ukraine, Europe, Russia, the United States, and elsewhere.
Freedman has served as Honorary Consul since 2008. He shared a meaningful memory of an event with the Ukrainian community here in Utah that took place the same year the consulate was opened. The Ukrainian community in Utah commemorated the 75th anniversary of the Holodomor genocide, a forced famine imposed by Joseph Stalin on Ukraine which killed 7 million people. Stalin closed the borders of the country in 1932 and 1933 and took all grain and other food from Ukraine to sell to Europe in order to fuel the industrial revolution of the Soviet Union. Utah Ukrainians have shared many stories of their relatives eating grass and leaves to survive. The commemoration included a flame carried from western Canadian and across the United States, making a stop in Salt Lake City. The Consul General based in San Francisco brought the flame to Utah and, together with Freedman, held a memorial service at the Joseph Smith Memorial building with a reception that followed at the Alta Club. In Freedman’s words, “The Holodomor is a horrific part of Ukrainian history which must never be forgotten. It was an honor and deeply sobering to have the Remembrance Flame stop in Salt Lake City”.
During his time as Honorary Consul, a number of dignitaries have visited Utah, including former President Poroshenko and his wife, four different Ukrainian ambassadors, and the Ukrainian Secretary of National Defense. Freedman has had the opportunity to set up meetings between Ukrainian diplomats and the Governor of Utah, the LDS First Presidency, business and civic leaders, and presidents of Utah universities, as well the Ukrainian community here. Last year, 100 Ukrainians attended a meeting with the Ambassador Chaly and his family. There are many events throughout the year, such as an annual Christmas party in January and 5K run in May to raise money and gather medical and other supplies for wounded soldiers and families affected by the war. Utah has an active community of Ukrainians that are passionate about their native country and, as Freedman states, “haven’t left their country in the rearview mirror.” They are very concerned about the state of affairs in Ukraine and their loved ones who are still there. To help connect with the Ukrainian community, there is a Utah Ukrainian Association Facebook page which facilitates meet ups, get togethers, and promotes other events such as a recent viewing of a Sundance film regarding the present war in Ukraine.
Freedman has several goals for increasing trade opportunities between Utah and Ukraine. There has never been a Utah trade mission to Ukraine, however he is active each month in helping individuals and businesses from the US find opportunities for investment in Ukraine as well as Ukrainians wanting to do business in Utah. Ukrainians living in Utah are industrious and hardworking. Many small businesses have been started by Ukrainians in Utah, such as landscaping companies, restaurants, and clothing brands.
Freedman has enjoyed associating with the Utah Consular Corps over the last 10 years, having served as a past president, vice president, treasurer and secretary. He is anxious to raise awareness of the Ukrainian consulate office and the goals of the Utah Consular Corps to help all foreign nationals in our community.