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Utah businessman among Obama's guests at State of the Union

Published January 29, 2014 7:44 am

State of the Union • Nicholas & Company president received a personal invitation and listened to Obama from the first lady's box.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Washington • A Utah businessman is among two dozen Americans who will help President Barack Obama illustrate his agenda during the State of the Union address.

Peter Mouskondis, the president of Nicholas & Company, will sit in the box reserved for first lady Michelle Obama and is among the invitees who may hear the president mention his name during the speech before the joint session of Congress.

The White House invited Mouskondis because his family-owned company allows for flexible work schedules and offers generous maternity, paternity and bereavement leave. Nicholas & Company has delivered food to restaurants and businesses in the Intermountain West for the past 75 years and is headquartered in Salt Lake City.

Mouskondis has yet to respond to a request for comment from The Salt Lake Tribune, but in a statement released by the White House said: "Our success at Nicholas and Company is directly related to our family friendly approach and the work of my grandmother, mother and wife in making work-life balance an essential part of our culture."

Mouskondis is not among Obama's donors. He actually contributed to former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman's 2012 presidential campaign and then he gave $2,500 to Republican nominee Mitt Romney. Last June he contributed to the Utah Democratic Party and he has been a contributor to Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah.

Matheson's office played no role in Mouskondis' invitation.

Other guests of the president include:

Carlos Arredondo and Jeff Bauman of Boston, both survivors of the Boston Marathon bombing.

Gary Bird of Moore, Okla., the city's fire chief and a leader in the aftermath of a devastating tornado.

Jason Collins of Los Angeles, the first male professional athlete from a major sport to come out as gay. He is a 12-year NBA player.

Joey Hudy of Anthem, Ariz., an intern at Intel and one of a growing number of young people who design and build things. He made a marshmallow launcher that landed a spot in the 2012 White House Science Fair.

Kathy Hollowell-Makle of Washington, D.C., the District's teacher of the year.

Aliana Arzola-Pinero of San Juan, Puerto Rico, a fourth grader who participated in the 2012 Healthy Lunchtime Challenge sponsored by the first lady.

Cristian Aliva, of Phoenix, Ariz., an immigration-reform activist who fasted for 22 days to encourage Congress to pass legislation that would allow him to get on a path to citizenship. He was brought to the country as a child of an undocumented immigrant and wants to be a U.S. Marine.

Mary Barra of Detroit, CEO of General Motors, and the first woman to run a global auto company.

Gov. Steve Beshear, D-Ky., an early adopter of the Affordable Care Act. Kentucky's Kynect has worked better than any other state-based health exchange.

Tyrone Davis, of Winston-Salem, N.C., a fellow with the Environmental Defense Fund's climate corp.

Vice Admiral Michelle Howard of Washington, D.C., the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations, who will become the first female four-star admiral.

Sabrina Simone Jenkins of Charleston, S.C., a single mother, who has pursued an education and is now saddled with $90,000 in student debt.

Mayor Ed Lee of San Francisco, the first Asian-American mayor of San Francisco, who is working to increase the city's minimum wage.

Andra Rush of Detroit, a member of the Mohawk Tribe and the founder of The Rush Group, a consortium of manufacturing and trucking.

Amanda Shelley of Gilbert, Ariz., a physician's assistant who, until the Affordable Care Act, was unable to get insurance due to a pre-existing condition.

Antoinette Tuff of Atlanta, a bookkeeper for DeKalb County who prevented a school shooting.

Misty DeMars of Oak Park, Ill., who is unemployed due to budget cuts. She is worried she may lose her home if Congress doesn't extend unemployment benefits.

Cory Remsburg and Craig Remsburg of Phoenix. Cory is an U.S. Army Ranger who was seriously injured in a roadside bomb in Kandahar, Afghanistan. Craig is his father and a primary caretaker now that Cory has brain-damage and partial paralysis.

Estiven Rodriguez of New York, a student from the Dominican Republican who will soon attend Dickinson College, as a first-generation college student.

John Soranno of St. Paul, Minn., the CEO of Punch Pizza, a small business that raised its minimum wage to $10.

Nick Chute of Minneapolis, Minn., an employee of Punch Pizza, who is benefiting from the increase in the minimum wage at his company. —

Other guests at President Barack Obama's State of the Union address

Carlos Arredondo and Jeff Bauman of Boston, both survivors of the Boston Marathon bombing.

Gary Bird of Moore, Okla., the city's fire chief and a leader in the aftermath of a devastating tornado.

Jason Collins of Los Angeles, the first male professional athlete from a major sport to come out as gay. He is a 12-year NBA player.

Joey Hudy of Anthem, Ariz., an intern at Intel and one of a growing number of young people who design and build things. He made a marshmallow launcher that landed a spot in the 2012 White House Science Fair.

Kathy Hollowell-Makle of Washington, D.C., the District's teacher of the year.

Aliana Arzola-Pinero of San Juan, Puerto Rico, a fourth-grader who participated in the 2012 Healthy Lunchtime Challenge sponsored by the first lady.

Cristian Aliva, of Phoenix, Ariz., an immigration-reform activist who fasted for 22 days to encourage Congress to pass legislation that would allow him to get on a path to citizenship. He was brought to the country as a child of an undocumented immigrant and wants to be a U.S. Marine.

Mary Barra of Detroit, CEO of General Motors, and the first woman to run a global auto company.

Gov. Steve Beshear, D-Ky., an early adopter of the Affordable Care Act. Kentucky's Kynect has worked better than any other state-based health exchange.

Tyrone Davis, of Winston-Salem, N.C., a fellow with the Environmental Defense Fund's climate corp.

Vice Admiral Michelle Howard of Washington, D.C., the deputy chief of Naval Operations, who will become the first female four-star admiral.

Sabrina Simone Jenkins of Charleston, S.C., a single mother, who has pursued an education and is now saddled with $90,000 in student debt.

Mayor Ed Lee of San Francisco, the first Asian-American mayor of San Francisco, who is working to increase the city's minimum wage.

Andra Rush of Detroit, a member of the Mohawk Tribe and the founder of The Rush Group, a consortium of manufacturing and trucking.

Amanda Shelley of Gilbert, Ariz., a physician's assistant who, until the Affordable Care Act, was unable to get insurance due to a pre-existing condition.

Antoinette Tuff of Atlanta, a bookkeeper for DeKalb County who prevented a school shooting.

Misty DeMars of Oak Park, Ill., who is unemployed due to budget cuts. She is worried she may lose her home if Congress doesn't extend unemployment benefits.

Cory Remsburg and Craig Remsburg of Phoenix. Cory is an U.S. Army Ranger who was seriously injured in a roadside bomb in Kandahar, Afghanistan. Craig, Cory's father, is his primary caretaker now that Cory has brain-damage and partial paralysis.

Estiven Rodriguez of New York, a student from the Dominican Republican who will soon attend Dickinson College, as a first-generation college student.

John Soranno of St. Paul, Minn., the CEO of Punch Pizza, a small business that raised its minimum wage to $10 an hour.

Nick Chute of Minneapolis, Minn., an employee of Punch Pizza, who is benefiting from the increase in the minimum wage at his company.