“Always remember that you are capable. There is no handbook that says who is or is not eligible of having an idea that could change the world. It could be you, and move forward with the excitement and confidence that it is you,” says Tori Utley.
Increasingly, women are turning their dreams into reality, building and running prosperous businesses from the ground up. National role models like Melinda Gates, Oprah Winfrey and Beyoncé are influencing, inspiring and shaping the world. Entrepreneur Barbie doll—complete with her own tablet, smartphone and Twitter chats—is a model of empowerment for girls. And locally, 22-year-old Tori Utley is climbing up the ladder of entrepreneurial success, rung by rung, building on strong principles that will help her change
A Rochester-area native, Utley attended post-secondary school at Rochester Community and Technical College. She completed her Bachelor of Science in Psychology and Addiction Studiesand Master of Business Administration through Liberty University by the age of 21. Now, driven to do more, she is pursuing innovative endeavors.
“As an entrepreneur, I work jointly in the fields of addiction recovery, philanthropy and technology innovation,” says Utley, who ambitiously is leading two startup companies.
She is founder and executive director of More Than An Addict, a nonprofit organization that promotes education, employment and entrepreneurship for individuals in recovery from addiction. She also is working toward short-term services for those placed on wait lists for residential treatment or halfway housing to keep them “safe, sober, now.” On top of this, she serves as founder and CEO of Tinua, an early-stage startup tech and social venture company that seeks to reduce monetary waste to impact the world on a global level.
“I get my inspiration from my faith in God and the desire to do good for the world,” says Utley. “Every day we are faced with need locally, nationally and globally. I want to be the kind of person that sees a problem and solves it.”
“In my experience, credibility and partnerships develop as I step out of my comfort zone and commit to being teachable,” she says. “Sometimes taking a risk to put yourself—and your ideas—out there can be one of the most effective ways to learn, network and grow your idea into a tangible business.”
“I’ll never have all of the answers,” she says. “Asking for help and being honest when I am unsure about what to do are critical values to being a good leader and making the best decisions for a project or company.”
Utley pushes toward the promise of helping others. “Grit, determination and passion, as well as incredible mentors, have helped me get to where I am today,” she says.
Recognized for her aspirations and accomplishments, Tori attended the Forbes Under 30 Summit in 2014 and 2015 and presented at Mayo Clinic’s Transform Conference in 2015. “These experiences were incredibly valuable and allowed me to speak about my companies and my passions.”
“In addition to my entrepreneurial endeavors, I have been blessed with an exciting, fulfilling career at Mayo Clinic, where I have learned so much about leadership and working with purpose,” says Utley. “I would not be where I am today without the mentors, experiences and opportunities Mayo Clinic has given me.”
She also works with Mission 21, an anti-human trafficking organization. “When you love all that you do, it really doesn’t feel like work. Outside of work, I love to play music and spend time with friends and family,” she adds.
Truly, Tori Utley has what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur and change the world—including a tablet, smartphone, Twitter accounts and website (toriutley.com). She feeds her soul by doing good work and leads forward with excitement and confidence.
Trish Amundson is a Rochester-area freelance writer.