Opportunities to Serve

PROVO, Utah – Nov 16, 2020 – When his wife was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008, Steven Fox never imagined that fewer than ten years later, the two of them would preside over hundreds of missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in French Polynesia. Helping his wife, Debbie, through one of her greatest challenges and serving his missionaries taught Fox how to look outside himself and serve his fellowmen. Now, as he returns to the BYU Marriott School of Business to join the Ballard Center for Social Impact, Fox continues to prioritize serving others.

Prior to his service as a mission president that began in June 2017, Fox worked as the managing director of the Rollins Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology at BYU Marriott. “In my role at the Rollins Center, I participated in a combination of teaching and administrative work. The main reason I'm at BYU Marriott is to interact with the students,” he shares. “I left a career of thirty years in the private sector working for large and small high-tech companies so that I could come to BYU to spend time with students and have a positive influence on their lives.”

While working at the Rollins Center, Fox received a call to serve as mission president of the Tahiti Papeete Mission. “The mission in French Polynesia is perhaps the second largest mission in the world geographically, but nearly all of that area is made up of water,” Fox explains. “Roughly 280,000 people live on approximately sixty of the 118 total islands within the mission boundaries. While we had missionaries on only twelve islands, I personally visited twenty-five different islands in French Polynesia.”

Although Fox took a three-year hiatus to serve as mission president, he always knew he would come back to BYU. “My plan all along was to come back to BYU Marriott because I loved my two and a half years at the Rollins Center before going on a mission,” says Fox, who now acts as one of the managing directors in the Ballard Center for Social Impact. “Being socially-minded is in my blood. So for me to have an opportunity to now serve here at the Ballard Center just made sense. Joining the team here felt like a great opportunity to be able to be an example and a leader to the students and to do good along the way.”

Fox admits that while he loved his mission experience, one of his most cherished times of life was helping his wife overcome breast cancer in 2008. “To see Debbie, the person I love the most, struggle and be in so much pain was incredibly challenging for me to watch,” he says. “Each day, she and I went on walks together.  Sometimes she didn't think she would have enough energy to walk a few yards, turn around, and walk back home. However, we were patient, and she was strong and determined, and each day we gradually walked a little bit more.”

Although the year Fox’s wife was dealing with cancer was a difficult time, the two of them have fond memories of the time they spent together. “We both noticed that during those twelve months when she went through a series of medical interventions, we had an extra measure of the Holy Spirit with us—those feelings from the Spirit were palpable. We were both blessed with divinely given strength, for her to endure the challenges of fighting cancer and for me to help sustain her.”

Thankfully for the Foxes, Debbie beat cancer. As Debbie recovered, their walks together slowly turned into runs. Two and a half years after she was deemed cancer-free, Debbie ran her first half-marathon, which was a testament to Fox about perseverance and is a lesson he shares with students. “If we continue trying to do our best every day and relying on the Lord, even in our times of greatest struggles, we can have the strength to accomplish great things.”

Steven Fox
Steven Fox

Media Contact: Chad Little (801) 422-1512
Writer: Madi Wickham