Ardeth Greene Kapp’s Influence on the Young Women Organization

Mary Jane Woodger and Jessica Wainwright Christensen

Jessica Christensen and Mary Jane Woodger, “Ardeth Greene Kapp’s Influence on the Young Women Organization,” in A Firm Foundation: Church Organization and Administration, ed. David J. Whittaker and Arnold K. Garr (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University; Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2011), 443–62.

Jessica Christensen is a graduate of Brigham Young University.

Mary Jane Woodger is a professor of Church history and doctrine at Brigham Young University.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints welcomes inspiration from members in leadership positions to influence the Church as a whole. Ardeth Greene Kapp epitomizes such leader-members in her ecclesiastical calling as ninth president of the Young Women organization (1984–92). Exerting her gifts and skills to direct this organization, Kapp developed major elements in the Young Women program, including the revised Personal Progress book and official motto, logo, and theme. [1] Her life experiences previous to this call primed her to lead the Young Women organization and make these contributions. Kapp herself expressed this idea: “I didn’t recognize [how parts of my life led up to later events] until I looked back. And I thought, oh my goodness, the Lord does lead our lives.” [2] Long before she revised the Young Women program, Kapp practiced foundational elements encouraged in the Personal Progress program, including keeping a journal, developing personal interests, and worshipping in the temple. Her early life evidences her personal tendency to innovate, respect the priesthood, lead with a plan, and sincerely connect with those she led. Furthermore, her educational pursuits enhanced her later success where she learned about the necessity of cooperation between teacher and student and the importance of being attentive to individuals. Kapp’s family, specifically her parents and sisters, cultivated the traits that later defined her leadership. Though Kapp acknowledges that hers has been “just an ordinary life, anybody could relate to it, it’s not [the life of] somebody that is born brilliant or born wealthy,” it is apparent that her life experiences prepared her for leadership of the Young Women organization. [3]

Several notable events occurred in the Church during Kapp’s service as general Young Women president. The first Young Women satellite broadcast in 1985 introduced the new Young Women values and theme. That year the new Personal Progress book was released with age-group mission statements, an official motto, and an official logo. The following year, the first Young Women worldwide celebration was observed. [4] Kapp’s unique background and personality proved complimentary to each of these events.

Before Kapp served as general Young Women president and revised the organization, Personal Progress consisted of these areas of focus: spiritual awareness, service and compassion, homemaking arts, recreation and the world of nature, cultural arts and education, and personal and social refinement. Young women received a certificate of progress indicating their accomplishments in the program each year. They were expected to set goals, record regular church attendance, and live standards of personal worthiness. [5] When she was a ward MIA president, Kapp felt that “the individual awards seemed to be based mostly on attendance and other measurable things” and that the Mutual program focused on self-improvement rather than the gospel. Also, she noted that “activities were the things that had first priority” during her service at the ward level. [6]

Kapp’s presidency revised the Personal Progress program in 1989. The new program consisted of age-group responsibilities called value experiences that promoted gospel standards and directed young women to use the scriptures often. The book presented an official Young Women theme outlining seven values: faith, divine nature, individual worth, knowledge, choice and accountability, good works, and integrity. Young women were to select at least two experiences for each of the seven values every year in the program. A motto, “Stand for Truth and Righteousness,” and logo, featuring the silhouette of a young women’s face in the flame of a torch, were also introduced. This logo was used on a medallion that young women were given upon earning the Young Womanhood Recognition award.

“Much of what [Kapp] and her presidency put in place . . . remains to guide young girls,” such as the basic structure of the Personal Progress book, the jewelry awarded to participants who complete the program, and the theme which is still recited at local and general Young Women gatherings today in a modified version. Her focus on the temple and celebration of sisterhood both continue to be major concepts promoted in the contemporary Young Women program. But in response to revelation, leaders since Kapp have modified aspects of the program, including the theme. [7] Just as Kapp felt that “everything that had been done before was right for that time” and that she was “building on the foundation of those who had done a wonderful job before,” subsequent general Young Women presidencies have revised the program. [8] For instance, the Young Women general presidency added the clause “strengthen home and family” to the theme in 2001; this decision reflected “a desire to encourage young women to use their influence for good to bless their families and prepare for their future roles.” [9] Later, in November 2008, the value “virtue” was incorporated in the theme because it provided “a pattern of thought and behavior based on high moral standards.” [10] Before the general Young Women presidency announced this addition, they informed Kapp, who responded to their decision with faith in them as leaders. She said, “I believe in continuing revelation.” [11]

In addition, a new Personal Progress book was created in 2001 under the direction of Margaret D. Nadauld, who said, “This is not a new program. It is simply a revision.” A record sheet was instituted, ten-hour projects became required for each value, more value experiences were elective, the three age-group pendants were discontinued, and the Young Womanhood medallion changed from the silhouette of a young woman to the spires of a temple. [12] Recently the Personal Progress booklet was revised again and now invites young women to complete experiences for the new eighth value, virtue. The medallion now depicts a beehive, rose, and wreath centered with a ruby, symbolizing virtue. [13]

Kapp’s influence continues with the Young Women medallion that girls receive upon completing their Young Womanhood Recognition requirements. Recently this practice affected a young Brazilian woman, Liriel Domiciano, who received national recognition at Brazil’s largest televised talent competition, Raul Gil Amateur Show. Although she was forbidden to discuss her religion on the air, she wore her Young Women medallion to let people know she was a member of the Church. She won the competition with her partner Rinaldo Viana, and many viewers noticed her jewelry and inquired how to obtain such a necklace. [14]

Clearly young women continue to encounter and be blessed by the Personal Progress program, Young Women medallion, and Young Women theme, all of which Kapp directed her attention to as general Young Women president.

Influence of Kapp’s Character

Examining prominent focuses of the Personal Progress program reveals Kapp’s direct influence. Many of the values promoted therein clearly correspond with her upbringing.

Journal keeping and letter writing. We first note that journal keeping is a major aspect of Personal Progress and an activity which Kapp faithfully engaged in throughout her life. Having accrued forty-seven personal journals, she counsels that “everybody should keep a journal.” [15] The introduction to the 1989 Personal Progress book instructs young women that “keeping a journal is an important part of Personal Progress.” [16] Most value experiences required the young woman to “record [her] feelings in [her] journal.” [17] Furthermore, several forms were provided to assist young women in recording their personal and family histories. [18]

Value experiences asked young women to pen letters. One value experience suggested they “write a letter of appreciation” and another instructed them to “participate in activities that help you keep the Sabbath day holy [such as] . . . writ[ing] letters.” [19] Kapp’s legacy parallels these assignments; it has been described as a “ministry by mail.” She has collected boxes of letters from young women and continues to correspond with several of these women today. [20] An avid letter writer, she exchanged letters with her husband, Heber, who began their correspondence when he wrote a thank-you letter after he was a guest in the Greene home as a young missionary. Ardeth responded by “thanking Heber for the thank-you letter.” [21] As general Young Women president, she infused this personal mantra of the importance of letter writing into Young Women goals.

Interest development. The Personal Progress program encourages young women to develop interests and learn about subjects they are unfamiliar with. They are urged to create unique projects or experiences, allowing them to pursue personal interests. For instance, one value experience in the 1989 edition suggested that young women “start learning about a subject you might be interested in, such as medicine, computer science, teaching, retail sales, law, child development, scientific research, secretarial work, engineering, the fine arts, or writing.” [22] While earlier editions focused on developing specific domestic skills, such as homemaking, dance, music, and literature, the program under Kapp’s leadership expanded to encompass any worthwhile pursuit. [23]

An inherently curious youth, Kapp tenaciously studied and pursued her talents. For instance, as a child, she practiced writing a talk like the ones Elder Richard L. Evans gave during Music and the Spoken Word, the weekly broadcast of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. She later tutored herself as she and Heber built their own home. Together they “drew house plans and put them on the ceiling in the bedroom. And then [they] got pieces of wood from a church [building] that was being built and then [they] built a model home.” [24] Such eagerness to learn infiltrated the revised Personal Progress program by inviting young women to likewise develop a willingness to study.

Temple emphasis. While Kapp was still very young, her parents “gave [her] an eternal perspective” and highlighted the paramount presence of temple worship in one’s life. This emphasis prepared her to construct Personal Progress as an avenue toward temple worship for young women. [25] Family trips to the Cardston Alberta Temple “taught [Kapp] to view the temple as the university of the Lord.” As a child she developed a serious health condition mandating immediate surgery; her mother explained that she would arrange to have Ardeth’s name placed on the temple prayer roll. Although she was then unfamiliar with the temple prayer roll, Kapp recognized something in the tone of her mother’s voice that assured her all would be well. [26] As an adult, Kapp continued to value the temple: “In the temple, my soul has found peace concerning questions for which my mind had no answers.” [27]

The temple became the most prominent aspect of the program Kapp revised. The Young Women theme conspicuously declared a goal to prepare young women to “make and keep sacred covenants, receive the ordinances of the temple, and enjoy the blessings of exaltation.” Furthermore, the design of the Personal Progress book identified the desired outcomes of the young women’s experience; the first page featured a tissue embossed with the outline of the Salt Lake Temple. [28] More value experiences directing young women to temple preparation were integrated in the updated version of the program. In addition to inviting girls to talk to a couple recently sealed in the temple about “the blessings an eternal marriage brings” or to “learn how to submit names for temple ordinances,” the program prepared girls to be worthy to enter the temple by encouraging them to dress modestly, be honest, and pay a full tithe. [29] Kapp’s fervent appreciation for the temple clearly contributed to the program’s emphasis on temple preparation.

Recent revisions continue to prepare young women for the temple. When virtue was added to the theme, Elaine S. Dalton, general Young Women president, said, “We cannot get caught up with this new value of virtue without saying the reason for the value is the temple. . . . And the temple is the reason for everything we are doing in Young Women, because it will help these young women to come unto Christ.” [30] The current Young Womanhood medallion features the spires of a temple. Additionally, the updated Personal Progress book features the temple on the cover because “the temple is the symbol for the youth of the Church.” [31]

Influence of Kapp’s Personality

Kapp’s personal convictions fully equipped her to be a spiritual and logistical administrator in the Young Women organization. Certain that the priesthood represented God’s authority, Kapp faithfully supported and adhered to the Brethren throughout her leadership, as seen in several episodes from her life. A woman who had consistently constructed detailed plans and responded to problems with unique solutions, Kapp used her skills to assist the Young Women organization. Her personality proved to be immensely influential in her leadership.

Women and the priesthood. Kapp acquired an understanding of how women and priesthood holders should interact early in life. When her father was called as a bishop, “her mom helped to make it possible” by doing the “behind-the-scenes things,” and Kapp realized that her mother “was always in the wings, playing a major role.” [32] Kapp later asserted, “There is only one organizational channel; . . . that’s the priesthood channel.” She added that it is “important for us to be in line with the present prophet.” [33] This attitude was exhibited when priesthood leaders turned down a proposed Churchwide satellite broadcast for young women. Rather than indulging in bitterness and regret, she reported the unexpected news to the general board at a meeting that began with the hymn “We Thank Thee, O God, for a Prophet,” followed by her testimony about adhering to priesthood leadership. She is clearly sincere when she says, “I believe in who the Brethren are and I don’t question the revelation they receive.” [34]

Purposeful planning. Although submissive to priesthood leadership, Kapp had developed strong leadership techniques of her own. Throughout her experience as a teacher, she developed creative, successful planning methods. In her childhood, she “learned to plan with a purpose, always asking what is it that we want to have happen.” [35] As an elementary school teacher, Kapp “sequenced the lesson manuals and determined the rate of progress required to reach the goals [she] had set. [She] then marked the calendar accordingly in carefully measured portions” before the school year began. In short, her “goals for the year were clearly in mind.” [36]

Kapp also used her planning skills while serving as general Young Women president by instituting a strategic planning room, where “white butcher paper lined the walls [and] the presidency and board members brainstormed ideas and created blueprints.” [37] Furthermore, Kapp established a tradition of using the first board meeting of every year to “review, update, and [articulate] the vision of their calling.” [38] She hoped her administration would be remembered for “changing the mindset from saying ‘What shall we do?’ to the question ‘What do we want to have happen?’” so that the focus for Young Women would shift from activities to outcomes. [39]

Creative innovations. An innovator, Kapp enjoyed calculating how to respond directly to the needs of those around her. Several experiences before her role as Young Women president primed her to identify problems and address them. Perhaps the first time Kapp exercised this skill occurred when she commandeered phone equipment her grandmother used as the town operator to reconnect Bill and Sarah, young lovers who were recently separated and publicly refused to speak to each other unless the other person spoke first. Explaining that this seemed to be an emergency, Kapp relates that she allowed Bill to believe Sarah was calling him and Sarah to believe that Bill was calling her, thus resolving the conflict between the two. [40] On another occasion when she was employed as a training instructor for new service representatives at the Mountain States Telephone Company, Kapp again designed a remedy to a threatening malady. Noticing that several colleagues were disheartened, she instigated the Sunshine Club and “cheered up the whole office by leaving notes and complimenting and building up their associates.” To gain admittance to the club, associates agreed to refrain from complaining and substitute positive comments for negative ones. [41]

These episodes display Kapp’s resourceful abilities and inclination to resolve problems. When she was called as general Young Women president, she noted a lack of organized attention toward young women during a “critical time” when “women and a woman’s role” were not understood. She felt that during the “struggling teenage years when things sometimes seem to be in turmoil” young women need to have access to “experiences that build confidence in their individual worth.” In response, she organized a program aimed at strengthening young women’s spirituality. With her board, she “studied [for the new Young Women program] for about a year . . . before [they] even came forward with a plan.” [42] That plan consisted of a revised program with its motto, theme, and logo.

Universality. Kapp’s leadership also notably respected the diverse backgrounds of the young women of the Church. Her Canadian hometown, Glenwood, Alberta, neighbored the Blood Indian Reservation and housed immigrants, including Kapp’s German schoolmates. [43] Twice her father, Kent, gave cows to Australian immigrants. [44] Many of these people came to Greene’s General Store, a family-operated community convenience store, and Kapp’s mother taught her “to treat them all the same.” [45] Here Kapp became conscious of diversity and the need to help people in their unique circumstances. As Kapp’s presidency revised Personal Progress, they asked themselves, “Is it universal?,” a question that seemed to drive all their decisions as leaders of a worldwide Church. [46]

During the Young Women satellite broadcast on November 10, 1985, “seven young women, each representing a different nationality, came out in native costume and recited one of the values.” [47] Moreover, her speeches addressed every young woman “in every corner of the earth, in every family, every classroom.” [48] In an invitation to all of the young women of the Church to participate in a worldwide celebration, the general Young Women’s presidency specifically stated that they “hoped this experience [would] help young women of every nation feel a bond of sisterhood by participating in the same event on the same day.” [49] This statement indicates Kapp’s understanding that young women are united in the gospel despite their various backgrounds.

In 1990, Kapp and her administrative assistant Carolyn Rasmus traveled to Asia, where they noted that “the principles of the Young Women’s program [were] universal and applicable to young women in every culture.” Every group of young women Kapp visited recited the theme, and many meetinghouses hung the banner or colors of the values. [50]

Elder Vaughn J. Featherstone of the First Quorum of the Seventy accurately describes Kapp as a woman who “feels deeply for people, and it doesn’t matter what race, what nationality, what color they are.” [51] This empathy and openness became integral in the programs Kapp developed, which embraced all cultures. Today young women can listen to talks from the annual general meeting online in their own language; there are dozens of options. [52]

Influence of Kapp’s Formal Education on Her Teaching

Kapp’s educational pursuits prepared her to serve as general Young Women president. Having acquired a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from the University of Utah in 1964, Kapp additionally earned a master’s degree in curriculum development from Brigham Young University in 1971. Subsequently she worked as a schoolteacher in Bountiful, Utah, and then became a supervisor in teacher education at Brigham Young University in 1966. [53] With her background as both a student and a teacher, she adopted effective didactic techniques designed to facilitate young people’s development.

Equality between leaders and youth. Kapp believed in maintaining equality, respect, and cooperation. As a teacher, she once told her students they would receive extra credit points if they corrected words she misspelled on the board . [54] She asserts that her many students “taught [her] as much as [she] endeavored to teach them.” [55]

This refusal to exalt herself as a leader presented itself during her tenure in the Young Women organization. Notice how the Young Women theme uses the pronoun “we.” Leaders recite this with the girls, which shows that as leaders they are also striving for righteousness and are aware of their divinity. [56] Furthermore, Kapp candidly referred to her general board as “Young Women Servants of the Lord.” [57]

Youth involvement. Kapp’s unique technique of preparing opportunities for youth to learn, articulate, and live gospel standards greatly shaped her leadership. When she was a teacher she took her pupils outside to experience nature firsthand. [58] She related that “sometimes sharing important things with others is like seeing those things for the first time in renewed splendor.” [59]

Likewise, again consider the Young Women theme, which invites girls to verbalize truth rather than just hear it recited, and the Personal Progress book, which necessitates that girls incorporate gospel principles into their lives rather than just talk about doing so. Furthermore, the Young Women presidency declared that the purpose of the worldwide celebration was to “provide every Latter-day Saint young woman with the opportunity to express her feelings concerning the Church and the Young Women Values.” Young Women wrote their testimonies, then attached these messages to helium-filled balloons that were released at the same time worldwide on October 11, 1986. [60] Clearly Kapp’s habit of directly involving her students in the acceptance of truth appeared during her leadership as general Young Women president.

Attention to individuals. Always conscious that the circumstances of those she led were varied, Kapp respected the individuals she interacted with. Kapp acquired an understanding of the need for such individualized attention as a young child in school. When her third-grade teacher became ill, Kapp and her classmates were advanced to the next class although they did not complete the year’s work; as a result she felt like she was never able to catch up and subsequently struggled in school. Later she found that overcoming this challenge allowed her to “follow her [students’] thought patterns” and be sensitive to their lack of confidence. Countless anecdotes present Kapp’s gracious attention to youth she encountered, whether at a youth camp, an institute class she taught, or letters seeking help when she served as general Young Women president. [61] For instance, when she noticed a young student apathetic to math but enthusiastic about vehicles, Kapp engaged him by “talking about numbers of jeeps and how many tires were needed to supply a fleet of jeeps.” [62] In the preface to her book The Gentle Touch, Kapp writes her belief that “if a teacher is ever to be allowed into the private, sacred realm of a child’s heart, . . . where lasting changes take place and lasting imprints are made, a sensitivity to the inner spirit of each child . . . is required.” [63] The revised Personal Progress book instructs Young Women leaders that “each young women must feel that she is able to succeed in Personal Progress. There may be times when adjustments to Personal Progress requirements may be necessary to meet the needs of individual young women.” [64] Kapp’s childhood struggles in school served as an asset to her teaching in the classroom and from the pulpit at general conference by yielding an understanding of reaching the one and showing consideration for individual needs and circumstances.

Influence of Kapp’s Familial Relationships

Kapp’s upbringing substantially contributed to her leadership. Many of her grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins lived nearby her childhood home. Particularly appreciative of her ancestors, Kapp once responded to her father’s comment that her hands looked like Grandma Greene’s by saying “I hope my spirit looks like hers also.” [65] While her family history evidently contributed to her desires for righteousness, her immediate family directly shaped her leadership abilities.

Her mother. Kapp concedes that her mother Julia (June) Leavitt Greene was “not the traditional kind of mother” but was “the best kind of mom” for her. June did not have hot cookies in the oven when her children came home from school, but at Greene’s General Store she often put store-bought cookies in the bags of children who could not afford them. While Ardeth does not recall her mother reading stories to her, she does remember that June initiated the first lending library in Glenwood. And although June did not close her store to attend her children’s school plays, she was instrumental in convincing the school district to hire reputable teachers. [66] June’s unconventional methods of mothering showed Kapp that women can be capable, adroit, and influential, using their talents, interests, and personal styles to bless their families in unique ways.

Kapp’s belief that “the spiritual dimension of a woman’s faith weaves itself through the tapestry of eternity from one generation to the next” is validated in her reception of her mother’s legacy. [67] Kapp was never blessed with her own children and perhaps her mother’s unconventional mothering illustrated that she could strengthen home and family in various avenues as well. Always an active figure in young women’s lives, Kapp consciously avoided taking the place of their mothers; rather, she “helped to forge bonds between the parents and their children.” [68] As a teacher, she began parent-teacher conferences “by asking each parent how [she] might be of help, since [her] role was to assist the parent in his responsibility, rather than the parent accounting to [her], the teacher.” [69] Kapp contributed to her sister Sharon’s family by developing a close friendship with her niece Shelly. Sharon relates that “during Shelly’s teenage years . . . she would talk to Ardeth. She would tell Shelly the same things I would have, but it was more credible coming from her.” [70] Kapp pursued this concept of creative motherhood through her popular booklet titled All Kinds of Mothers, which discusses women’s responsibility to nurture others, regardless of whether or not they have children of their own. [71] Furthermore, rather than specifically preparing young women to be mothers, the revised Personal Progress value experiences and theme assist young women in developing a nurturing character and a strong testimony of the gospel. If these ambitions were realized, young women would be prepared to contribute to families and to the kingdom of God whether or not they married or bore children.

Kapp’s mother, June, further contributed to the leader Kapp became by recruiting her to work at Greene’s General Store, a responsibility that made her feel “needed in the family.” [72] When President Harold B. Lee “emphasized that it was time for the youth to assume greater leadership roles than in the past” Kapp was prepared as general Young Women president to promote this change. [73] She enthusiastically encouraged Young Women leaders to delegate responsibility to the girls as her mother had done in the country store. Kapp personally believed in making sure members “feel like they are an intricate part of building the kingdom.” [74]

Her father. From her father, Edwin Kent Greene, Kapp adopted what she affectionately called his “wonderful teaching way” of using everyday experiences to explain gospel principles. [75] She says that the most valuable lessons occurred outside of the classroom when she was with her father in the field, and that “every moment with him was a teaching moment.” [76] For instance, on one occasion Kapp accompanied her father to build a fire in the store’s coal stove at a time when she was feeling left out of a particular social group. He addressed her concerns by explaining he had to put wood in the stove before they felt any heat—she also must feed a friendship before she felt its warmth. [77] Another day he taught her how to jump the irrigation ditch and related it to overcoming obstacles in life; the key, he said, is to “keep your eye on the other side.” [78] Kapp came to excel at identifying truth in daily circumstances for the Young Women as her father had done for her. She claims that his “reservoir of experiences seemed limitless” and related many anecdotes of how he taught her through simple, daily occurrences. [79] In the acknowledgments of Miracles in Pinafores and Bluejeans, Kapp addresses her father and expresses her appreciation that he “ha[d] over the years revealed beauty in common things and miracles in every day.” [80]

Kapp used the same approach her father had when she became a Young Women leader. When working with young women on a major fashion show event, Kapp compared the girls to coyotes, who could overtake a rabbit by “uniting their resources and working together.” [81] Her addresses as general Young Women president often related an interaction she had with a particular young woman and then explained how this interaction revealed a gospel principle. For instance, Kapp paired a didactic statement about the effect of sacrifice on a family with an anecdote about a young woman who responded to her family’s poverty by working long and frequent shifts until she could afford her own college tuition and contribute to the family finances. [82] Additionally, the Young Women worldwide celebration, titled The Rising Generation, was scheduled to “take place at sunrise or in the early morning to symbolize the dawning of a new day for Latter-day Saint young women.” [83] Kapp’s appreciation of symbolism, acquired from her father, exhibits itself with this decision. When Kapp was released as general Young Women president, she thanked her father for “the part he had played from the beginning of her life in her preparation for that calling.” [84]

June and Edwin’s unique characteristics clearly aided in the development of their daughter’s leadership. As her mother’s life drew to a close, Kapp “thought about eternity and the importance of this life, and how quickly it passes.” [85] Her parents’ deaths, which occurred before her call as president, facilitated her concern for the young women’s eternal, not just temporal, lives. [86]

Her sisters. Kapp’s love, appreciation, and admiration for women seems apparent in her interactions with her own sisters. Kapp’s “deep feelings” for her sisters were strong “ever since they were tiny”; she feels that they were “precious friends in the pre-existence.” Kapp delighted in caring for and protecting her younger sisters, who recall that she washed their hair, got them ready for school, and let them watch her get ready for parties and dances. Even after she married, Kapp continued to fondly associate with her sisters by inviting the girls to stay at her home. [87] Just as Kapp blessed her sisters, she later blessed many other young women. Furthermore, she was accustomed to being an example and leader to girls because of her relationship with her sisters.

During her service in the Young Women organization, Kapp developed close relationships with the women she served with, [88] and the Personal Progress booklet begins with a reminder that young women are “part of a great and wonderful worldwide sisterhood.” [89] These sentiments were evidenced as she officially represented women’s issues. As a chairman of the Advisory Committee on Women’s Concerns at Brigham Young University, her advocacy of education for women was reaffirmed. When US Attorney General Edwin Meese’s commission on pornography held its final hearing in January 1986, Kapp delivered a powerful fifteen-minute presentation outlining the damaging effects of pornography on women. [90] In short, she believes in the power of women to lead, inspire, and stand as witnesses. In her interactions with young women, she exhibited confidence in them by assuring them that “yes, girls, you are old enough” to make a difference. [91] Formal events she coordinated, including the first Young Women satellite broadcast and the first and second Young Women worldwide celebrations (1986, 1989), yielded an opportunity for young women to be recognized and honored. [92] These events communicated the message that young women are valuable assets to the Church and worth celebrating. Modern general Young Women leaders have maintained Kapp’s legacy of celebrating femininity by instituting a pink cover on the most recent Personal Progress book. They specifically did this to remind young women of their feminine characteristics, gifts, and roles. [93] Furthermore, a general Young Women meeting takes place every spring at the end of March to specifically address young women ages twelve to eighteen. Talks are broadcast by satellite to meetinghouses throughout the world for millions of girls.


As ninth president of the Young Women organization, Ardeth Greene Kapp used her gifts and skills to oversee the development of the 1989 Personal Progress book as well as the official motto, logo, and theme. [94] Her personal habits, specifically journal keeping, developing interests, and temple worship, as well as her individual character, consisting of creative and purposeful planning, respect for the priesthood, and sincere interest in individuals, defined her leadership. Kapp’s formal education also prepared her by alerting her to the need for cooperation between leaders and youth and need for attentiveness to individuals. Furthermore, Kapp’s family aided in the attainment of traits which contributed to her leadership techniques. In the preface of Miracles in Pinafores and Bluejeans, Kapp affirms her conviction that her life experiences primed her to serve as general Young Women president: “I have found that seemingly unimportant events linked together at a later time with other seemingly common events become evidence of eternal principles on which faith is built.” [95] Each opportunity in her life prepared her and developed talents she used as Young Women general president.


[1] Anita Thompson, Stand as a Witness: The Biography of Ardeth Greene Kapp (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2005), 268.

[2] Ardeth Greene Kapp, interviewed by Jessica Christensen, 1, December 3, 2009, Bountiful, Utah, transcript in Jessica Christensen’s possession (hereafter referred to as Christensen interview).

[3] Christensen interview, 1.

[4] “Presidents of the Young Women Organization through the Years,” Ensign, June 2008, 40–45.

[5] My Personal Progress (Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1977), 10–11, 14.

[6] Ardeth Greene Kapp, interviewed by Gordon Irving, 1978–79, 25, 43, typescript, James Moyle Oral History Program, Church History Library, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City (hereafter Irving interview).

[7] Carrie A. Moore, “Ex-Young Women Leader Is a Revered Role Model,” Deseret Morning News, March 31, 2006, A1.

[8] Christensen interview, 5.

[9] “Teaming Up for Youth,” Ensign, January 2002, 7–12; “Making Progress,” New Era, January 2002, 16.

[10] Heather Whittle Wrigley, “Changing the World One Virtuous Woman at a Time,” Ensign, January 2010, 74–75; Young Women Personal Progress (Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2009), 70.

[11] Christensen interview, 7.

[12] “Teaming Up for Youth,” 7.

[13] Wrigley, “Changing the World One Virtuous Woman at a Time,” 74–75.

[14] Jeannette N. Oakes, “A Voice for Values,” New Era, August 2004, 12.

[15] Christensen interview, 1.

[16] Personal Progress (Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1989), 10.

[17] Personal Progress, 19–20.

[18] Personal Progress, 18, 30, 45.

[19] Personal Progress, 66, 51.

[20] Christensen interview, 10.

[21] Thompson, Stand as a Witness, 189.

[22] Personal Progress, 62, 51.

[23] My Personal Progress, 35.

[24] Christensen interview, 10.

[25] Christensen interview, 10.

[26] Thompson, Stand as a Witness, 59, 65.

[27] Ardeth Greene Kapp, “Temples Like ‘No Other Places in World,’” Church News, June 29, 1991, 10.

[28] Thompson, Stand as a Witness, 273.

[29] Personal Progress, 48, 59, 61.

[30] Wrigley, “Changing the World One Virtuous Woman at a Time,” 74–75.

[31] Elaine S. Dalton, “What’s New in Personal Progress?,” New Era, January 2010, 32–35.

[32] Thompson, Stand as a Witness, 42.

[33] Christensen interview, 4.

[34] Thompson, Stand as a Witness, 276–77.

[35] Christensen interview, 9.

[36] Ardeth Greene Kapp, The Gentle Touch (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1978), 1–2.

[37] Thompson, Stand as a Witness, 269.

[38] Thompson, Stand as a Witness, 316.

[39] Janet Peterson and LaRene Gaunt, Keepers of the Flame (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1993), 155.

[40] Ardeth Greene Kapp, Echoes from My Prairie (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1979), 58.

[41] Peterson and Gaunt, Keepers of the Flame, 144–45; Thompson, Stand as a Witness, 120.

[42] Christensen interview, 6.

[43] Kapp, Echoes from My Prairie, 18 and 22.

[44] Karen Thomas Arnesen, “Ardeth Greene Kapp: A Prairie Girl, a Young Woman Still,” Ensign, September 1985, 36.

[45] Irving interview, 7.

[46] Thompson, Stand as a Witness, 269.

[47] Thompson, Stand as a Witness, 280.

[48] Ardeth G. Kapp, “Young Women Striving Together,” Ensign, November 1984, 96.

[49] Young Women Worldwide Celebration (Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1985), 1.

[50] “Young Women Principles Applicable in Every Culture,” Church News, July 21, 1990, 3.

[51] Thompson, Stand as a Witness, 296.

[52] Young Women broadcasts are available at,7726,2298-1-101-1641,00.html.

[53] Irving interview, preface.

[54] Thompson, Stand as a Witness, 44.

[55] Kapp, The Gentle Touch, acknowledgments.

[56] Personal Progress, 6.

[57] Thompson, Stand as a Witness, 268, 295.

[58] Ardeth Greene Kapp, Miracles in Pinafores and Bluejeans (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1977), 7–9.

[59] Kapp, Echoes from My Prairie, 50.

[60] Young Women Worldwide Celebration, 1, 3.

[61] Thompson, Stand as a Witness, 44, 306–8, 356–57.

[62] Kapp, Gentle Touch, 82.

[63] Kapp, Gentle Touch, preface.

[64] Personal Progress, 88.

[65] Thompson, Stand as a Witness, 236.

[66] Peterson and Gaunt, Keepers of the Flame, 139.

[67] “Examining Faith, Hope and Charity,” Church News, April 12, 1991, 12.

[68] Thompson, Stand as a Witness, 149.

[69] Kapp, Gentle Touch, 13.

[70] Thompson, Stand as a Witness, 178.

[71] See Ardeth Greene Kapp, All Kinds of Mothers (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1979).

[72] Christensen interview, 3.

[73] Thompson, Stand as a Witness, 214.

[74] Christensen interview, 3.

[75] Christensen interview, 3.

[76] Irving interview, 5.

[77] Kapp, Miracles in Pinafores and Bluejeans, 13.

[78] Kapp, Gentle Touch, 100–104.

[79] Kapp, Echoes from My Prairie, 25.

[80] Kapp, Miracles in Pinafores and Bluejeans, acknowledgments.

[81] Kapp, Miracles in Pinafores and Bluejeans, 23.

[82] Ardeth G. Kapp, “Young Women Striving Together,” Ensign, November 1984, 96.

[83] Young Women Worldwide Celebration, 1.

[84] Thompson, Stand as a Witness, 238–39.

[85] Thompson, Stand as a Witness, 256.

[86] Christensen interview, 1.

[87] Thompson, Stand as a Witness, 228–29, 184, 19–21, 110.

[88] Thompson, Stand as a Witness, 290–95.

[89] Personal Progress, 4.

[90] Thompson, Stand as a Witness, 251–52, 288–89.

[91] Kapp, Miracles in Pinafores and Bluejeans, 3, 41–42.

[92] “Presidents of the Young Women Organization through the Years,” Ensign, June 2008, 40–45.

[93] Wrigley, “Changing the World One Virtuous Woman at a Time,” 74–75.

[94] Thompson, Stand as a Witness, 268.

[95] Kapp, Miracles in Pinafores and Bluejeans, preface.