Jill Miller, Kogod/MBA '91
Every year the Sundance Film Festival brings 50,000 visitors to Park City, Utah. It’s the job of Jill Miller to make sure that cast of thousands doesn’t star in a disaster movie.
Since 2001 Miller has been managing director of the Sundance Institute, the nonprofit organization founded by film legend Robert Redford that runs the festival. She oversees the operational, financial, and administrative aspects of the organization, and assists with innovative new programs such as Film Forward, a collaborative effort that takes filmmakers and their films around the country and the world.
For all the celebrity-filled buzz that surrounds the annual film festival, Miller and her colleagues at Sundance put the spotlight where it belongs.
“At the institute our celebrities are the filmmakers, the directors,” she says.
The institute has 90 full-time staffers split between its Park City and Los Angeles offices. At the festival’s peak, seasonal workers swell those ranks to 350, along with an additional 1,200 volunteers. Among Miller’s proudest accomplishments at Sundance, which remains financially sound even in the current economic climate, is the forging of a long-term agreement with Park City for the festival. As for her success at Sundance, she gives a large measure of credit to AU.
“There’s no question that what I learned at AU through the MBA program has helped me tremendously in looking at the way I manage my parts of the organization and my responsibilities and how you build a team,” Miller says.
A self-described Air Force brat, Miller grew up living around the world, including the Washington, D.C., area. When her father worked at the Pentagon, she attended elementary school in Fairfax, Virginia. She later moved to Utah with her parents and earned a BA in political science–international relations at the University of Utah.
After graduating from AU, she worked in international banking in London and for lobbyists in Washington.
“I couldn’t wait to get out of here,” she says of Utah. “Then being in D.C. for six years, which I loved, I thought, ‘You know, my heart’s really in the West and I want to be back there.’ Sundance offered me a job and I’ve been happy ever since.”