A Motto and a Way of Life
Service above self.
It may be the Rotary motto, but for me, it also defines what I’ve always believed is at the heart of what makes us uniquely Oklahoman.
I had the privilege of being a television journalist in Oklahoma for a decade before I became an attorney and ran for office. I loved telling stories on the news about people I met from Oklahoma City to every small town you only hear about – at least if you’re part of Club 29 and live in the OKC metro – during tornado season (cue the seasonal catch phrases of “multiple vortices,” “Doppler radar,” “supercell,” and “mesocyclone” accompanied with sparkly ties and shaky dashboard camera video and on-the-scene reporters drenched in rain gear you learn quickly are not born and bred in the Sooner state.
I had a front row seat to the biggest events in Oklahoma, and most often I found the kindness of neighbors helping neighbors, communities coming together after tragedy, and the spirit of giving back to the state that made us. We’re people of strength, faith, grit, an unmatched work ethic, and who demonstrate service to others. But I learned who we are as Oklahomans long before I had a college degree and a press pass. I grew up in Bethany with a family that made social justice and community service a part of everyday life. I learned from having a mother as an educator that investing in children is our best shot at securing a future we all believe in, where you can be successful no matter your zip code or what you look like.
It’s because of this state that made me who I am that I was thrilled to join the oldest, most impactful civic club in Oklahoma. And for the reasons listed above, perhaps that’s why we’re one of the largest clubs in the world. I’m a new member of Club 29 and naturally joined this committee because I’m a writer.
I’ll be honest, there are often times as a journalist you find it hard to find something you feel is worthy of writing about. There are stories I cringed to go on live television and talk about just because a producer thought it was a good idea. There are also stories about our history in Oklahoma that are not comfortable to write or talk about. But one thing I do know is this: I’m honored to be a member of this storied club and help write the next chapter of it.
The people of this club who encouraged me to join truly inspire me. David Walters, Lou Kerr, Freda Deskin, Dee Llanusa and Drew Edmondson were so welcoming. And just like Oklahoma is special because of its people, so is this amazing club.
Like every smart public speaker, I copy the better ones. So as the great theologian Dolly Parton says, “If your actions create a legacy that inspires others to dream more, learn more and become more, then, you are an excellent leader.”
Thank you, Club 29, for your legacy of leadership. May we grow together, learn from each other, and continue to shape the future of Oklahoma City and the great state of Oklahoma. Here’s to the service above self that transcends politics, occupations, socioeconomic backgrounds, and unites us as Oklahomans and Rotarians.