Gary Batton was born December 15, 1966, in Wichita, Kansas. He graduated from Clayton High School in Clayton, Oklahoma in 1985. He began working for the Choctaw Nation at the age of twenty while attending Southeastern Oklahoma State University. Upon graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management in 1989, he accepted the position of Deputy Director of the Choctaw Nation Housing Authority. In 1997, he was selected as the Executive Director of Health. After a decade of working to expand and improve the Choctaw Nation Health Services, he was appointed to the position of Assistant Chief in May 2007.
Upon Chief Gregory Pyle’s retirement on April 28, 2014, Gary Batton became the forty-seventh Chief of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, the third largest Indian tribe in the United States. Batton set a clear direction in his inaugural address indicating a specific vision for his administration with his primary purpose being to create a better future for the Choctaw people. In the July 2015 general election, he retained his position as Chief by an overwhelming vote of the Choctaw people.
With thirty years experience of implementing reforms, identifying and fostering business development opportunities, infrastructure enhancements, and social and economic programs, Batton’s goals continue to be the improvement of the lives of tribal members, creating economic and employment opportunities and implementing tribal reform resulting in greater transparency and accountability. Batton spends countless hours in the communities with the tribal members. His mission is to create a better future for the Choctaw people. He works to protect, revitalize and pass down the culture, provide opportunities for education, employment, improved healthcare, financial stability and to ultimately do what is best for Choctaws, all while remaining focused on Faith, Family, and Culture.
Within Chief Batton’s first year of office, more than a thousand jobs were added in southeastern Oklahoma. By his third year in office, the tribe had opened a significant expansion to an existing health clinic, built a new large state-of-the-art clinic, and added new wellness centers, community centers, food distribution centers and independent living communities for Choctaw elders along with adding several new economic development and service programs.
Chief Batton has welcomed President Barack Obama and Secretary of Interior Sally Jewell to the Choctaw Nation for visits and partnered with the Chickasaw Nation to win significant lawsuits against the federal government regarding water and timber resources.
Chief Batton’s excitement, enthusiasm and energy are visible in his vision for the Choctaw people. He continuously looks for ways to develop, improve and expand services for the best benefit of tribal members and to ensure that the legacy of the Choctaw people is preserved for generations to come.
Chief Batton has represented the Choctaw Nation on numerous boards and committees and currently serves on the Children’s Hospital Foundation Board of Advocates, the Southeastern Oklahoma State University Foundation Board, the TMC (Texoma Medical Center) Board of Directors, First United Bank Board and the Oklahoma Hall of Fame Board. He has been recognized as one of Oklahoma’s Most Admired CEO’s, as Outstanding Alumni at Southeastern Oklahoma State University and as an Oklahoma Creativity Ambassador.
Batton and his wife, Angie, make their home in Clayton, Oklahoma. They have two children, Stacy and David, and two grandchildren.
Chair of the Day
Gena Timberman (Choctaw)
For nearly 20 years, Gena has committed her professional career to the pursuit of planning and guiding cultural projects in Indian Country toward successful completion. From 1999-2013, she championed the dream to build an American Indian Cultural Center and Museum in Oklahoma. She has been mentored by some of Indian country’s top leaders; and, she has worked closely with city, state, county, federal and tribal governments in varied matters of site and project development. As Director, Gena lead the development of a nearly 300-acre site on the Oklahoma River envisioned to be the future home of a world-class cultural destination, a landscaped and programmed park and trails system, commercial development and visitor welcome center. She understands the issues in advancing project vision while managing the operational, institutional, and legal issues of challenging and complex projects.
In 1996, Gena graduated from Oklahoma State University with a B.A. in English. She received the Outstanding Contribution to the Native American Community award. In 1999, she graduated from the University of Oklahoma College of Law and currently focuses her practice on Indian Country business development relative to cultural tourism and legal issues in cultural projects and museum administration.
Over the years, Gena has provided a multitude of local, statewide, national and international public keynote speeches, presentations and lectures on project development and management, as well as Oklahoma tribal cultures, cultural tourism, and economic development in Indian Country
In 2013, Gena formed Luksi Group, LLC, a consulting business that provides cultural direction for creative design in Indian Country projects. Gena is most recently engaged in facilitating the planning of the Choctaw Cultural Center for the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. From cultural destinations to events, Gena draws from her talents and experience in project management, public engagement, cultural and educational program development, and cultural awareness of American Indian tribes to plan successful and sustainable projects in Indian Country…projects that uplift relationships and reflect the diverse and beautiful values of our Native cultures.