July – June 2019 New Rotarians

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James Pepper Henry

 James Pepper Henry was born in Portland, Oregon and grew up in the Pacific Northwest, but returned every summer to Oklahoma to attend the tribal dances of the Kaw people. James Pepper Henry’s family is originally from Kaw City and Broken Arrow, Oklahoma.

He is a graduate of the University of Oregon with a BA degree in fine arts and minor in art history. He is also a graduate of the Getty Leadership Institute (Los Angeles) with a graduate certificate in Museum Leadership.

James is the Director and CEO of the American Indian Cultural Center and AICCM.

He is former Executive Director of Gilcrease AICCM in Tulsa, OK; former Executive Director of the Heard AICCM in Phoenix, AZ; former Director/CEO of the Anchorage AICCM in Anchorage, AK; and the former Associate Director of the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of the American Indian.

James was most recently a member of the Downtown Tulsa Rotary Club, and a past member of the Downtown Anchorage, Alaska Rotary Club. He has been a member of Rotary since 2007.

James Pepper Henry is a member of the Kaw Nation Iloshka Society – a ceremonial dance society – and his hobbies include outdoor photography, painting, and hiking.

Rotarian Sponsors: Kathy Williams, John Michael Williams, Amber Sharples


Paul Warren was born in Heidelberg, Germany, and grew up an Army brat, living in South Korea as well as traveling the world and the United States.

Paul is proud that his father served in the military for 25 years, retiring as a Lt. Colonel.

He graduated from Oklahoma State University, earning a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and majoring in Marketing.

Paul got to OKC by working for TriCorps Cybersecurity and is the Vice President of Business Development.

TriCorps – an integrated Physical, Surveillance (Cameras) and Cybersecurity firm – was formed when David Ross, retired Oklahoma Highway Patrolman, and Scott Klososky, well-known and respected technology futurist, merged companies.

In past positions, he worked at Microsoft for 14 years and at Salesforce for 3 years; he has worked in software and technology for over 30 years.

Paul enjoys spending time with family – his wife Dayna (also an OSU graduate) and both of his children (who went to OU; so yes, house divided). He currently has 1 grandson and a granddaughter is due in December.

He is into anything competitive in sports, especially NBA and OKC Thunder, is active in his church, and enjoys helping companies “prosper and protect” their business.

Rotarian Sponsors: Freda Deskin, Lou Kerr, Franci Hart

 

 

Rebecca Kaye grew up in Virginia and spent her adult life in Atlanta and DC, but her parents and extended family are in Oklahoma – from the metro OKC and the Binger/Gracemont areas – so being in OKC is like a homecoming of sorts.

She earned her BA from the University of Virginia, her MPA from Georgia State University’s Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, and her Ed.S. in educational leadership from the University of West Georgia. She is currently a doctoral candidate in educational leadership and policy at the Peabody College at Vanderbilt University.

Rebecca has served Oklahoma City Public Schools as their Chief of Staff since January of 2017.

Rebecca Kaye has served as OKCPS Chief of Staff since January 2017. In that capacity, she coordinates the district’s executive team, supports the superintendent, develops strategic plans for improvement, supports improvements to board governance, and builds relationships with our community and legislative leaders. She also filled in temporarily as the acting superintendent from February to June as the board searched to fill the role permanently. She is particularly passionate about building positive adult culture within our central administration teams and school teams in support of our students.

Kaye joined OKCPS from Atlanta Public Schools, a district serving a diverse student body of over 51,000 in Georgia’s capital city. There, she served as the superintendent’s Policy & Governance Advisor. In this role, she led governmental relations strategy, policy development, system and school governance processes, school board communications, and high-level problem solving on behalf of the superintendent.

Prior to her service in urban district leadership, she began her career teaching middle school language arts and social studies in Atlanta, before embarking on her career in education policy. Her prior work experiences include the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB), the Presidential Management Fellows program in the US Department of Education, and the Georgia Department of Education.

Rebecca and her husband Michael have two sons who attend their neighborhood OKCPS schools. Through getting engaged in the OKC community, she has especially enjoyed learning more about her parents’ roots in central Oklahoma.

Rotarian Sponsors: Reed Downey, Mary Melon

 

 Erika Lucas was born, raised, and schooled in Mexico, coming here with her mom and sister when she was young but returning to Mexico.  Later in life she came to visit her mom, met her husband, and stayed.

Erika is the Co-Founder of StitchCrew and in partnership with the OKC Thunder, they run an accelerator program to connect technology entrepreneurs with the resources, network, and investment they need to launch and scale businesses in Oklahoma.

Prior to StitchCrew, she worked for a Private Equity company with investments in the US and Europe and before that she was the Director of Foreign Direct Investment and Trade for the State of Oklahoma – at the OK Department of Commerce.  When living in Mexico, she helped international companies establish successful operations in-country.

Erika loves traveling with her family and investing in high-growth startups.  They founded StitchCrew because they strongly believe that the most pressing challenges we face as a society will not be solved by traditional mindset or policy alone, but by bold entrepreneurs.

Rotarian Sponsors: Ann Ackerman, Pat Potts, Matt McGuire

Thanks to Rotarian Karen Youngblood for the New Rotarian Bios!

9-18-18

Robert Cooke  was born and raised in OKC.

He graduated from John Marshall High School and then went to Centenary College in Shreveport, Louisiana. Afterward, he went to medical school at the University of Oklahoma and did his surgery residency at OU Health Sciences Center.

Robert practiced as a General Surgeon in OKC until his retirement at the end of last year.

He and his wife, Diane, have been traveling and trying to spend as much family time as they can with their 3 sons and their families. He is an avid golfer and has been enlightened by his short tenure in Rotary.

His Rotary Sponsors are: Ron Perry, Rick Vermillion, and Jim Jennings

 

Polly  Anderson is a Floridian and a graduate of the University of South Florida (Go Bulls!). However, her first PBS station was at the University of Florida, so she also considers herself a Florida Gator.

Polly was recruited to OETA after a national search to fill the Executive Director position. OETA is the television network for PBS for the state of Oklahoma and she has worked for PBS stations for a little over twenty years, with this being the fourth organization where she has been the CEO.

Polly began her public broadcasting career at the University of Florida in a mid-management position, and fell in love with public broadcasting; both programming and the people who enjoy and are touched by the programming. She then accepted a position as Vice President of the state network in Alabama where she was in charge of all fundraising and communications. Her goal though, was to run a station and she got that opportunity when she was recruited for the position of President and CEO of the PBS (TV) and NPR (radio) station in Waco, Texas. She then was recruited to run the PBS TV station in Albuquerque, NM and then accepted the offer to run the PBS station in Orlando, Florida where she could be close to her elderly parents.

After three years there, she took some time off to spend time with her elderly mother, and then was recruited last fall to come to Oklahoma and run OETA. She began her tenure at OETA last December and is so proud to be running the number one, most-watched PBS station in the country.

Polly enjoys music, the arts, museums, reading, exercise, walking and yoga, cooking, and learning about food from other cultures.

Rotarian Sponsors: Mary Melon, Ted Streuli, and Glen Johnson

 

 

Sara Jane Smallwood Cocke was born and raised in Clayton, OK; the heart of the Choctaw Nation. She is honored to serve her Nation every day. She has helped to grow the Government Relations Department to serve all parts (over 100 departments) of the Choctaw Nation in relationship building at the federal, state, and local government levels.

She was a graduate and valedictorian of Clayton High School in Clayton, OK. She received a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Communications and American Indian Studies at OSU and was named an Outstanding Senior as one of the university’s top graduates. In 2007, she was chosen as a Scholar by the Morris K. Udall and the Stewart L. Udall Foundation and as a Fellow by the Public Policy and International Affairs Program, where she was part of the Princeton University summer fellowship. And she received a Master of Public Affairs with emphasis in local governance from Indiana University’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs and was invited back to campus in Spring of 2018 to serve as the program’s first-ever Alum in Residence to talk about public service in Indian Country.

Sara Jane recently entered her 7th year working for the Choctaw Nation, and is now the Director of Government Relations and Promise Zone Coordinator for the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. In this role, she serves as the liaison on behalf of the Choctaw Nation for state policy matters in Oklahoma, and opened an Oklahoma City office in fall of 2017. She also leads and directs the nationwide Promise Zone designation for the Choctaw Nation – the very first tribal designee – and has worked with hundreds of partners in southeastern Oklahoma to leverage more than $500 million in federal investment and technical assistance to the southeastern region of Oklahoma since 2014. She also directed and organized the visit of President Barack Obama to the Choctaw Nation in 2015; this historic event was the first-ever visit by a sitting President of the United States to the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma.

Sara Jane and her husband, Adam, are newlyweds and make their home in Norman where they are active in St. Joseph Catholic Church. They love to travel as well as visit their families in the beautiful mountains of southeastern Oklahoma.

Rotarian Sponsors: Anne Roberts, Lou Kohlman, and Clayton Taylor  

 

Allen Gradnigo originally moved here in the fourth grade and graduated as a co-valedictorian from Moore High School. He is returning to Oklahoma via Grand Rapids, Michigan, after serving more than 22 years of active duty Air Force.

He apparently likes being in school, because he has a Bachelor in Science in Computer Science from McMurry University in Abilene, Texas; his MBA from Auburn University in Montgomery, Alabama; an MA in International Relations from OU; an MA in Security Studies from the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California; and is projected to defend his doctoral dissertation after damages from Hurricane Florence for his Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership from Fayetteville State University in North Carolina.

Allen leads a team of 18 information technology professions located in Bangalore, India, for Cisco Systems. They deliver an annual subscription service called Technical Knowledge Library (TKL), which provides engineers and others with 24/7 access to Cisco Press books and direct access to industry experts. And if not enough, he also teaches Success Central as an adjunct at UCO.

Allen is married to Jennifer and has three children.  His son is a junior, studying Applied Exercise Science at OSU; his daughter is a sophomore at Edmond Santa Fe; and his youngest is a second grader at Cross Timbers Elementary.  Over the years, he has lived or worked in 19 states and 8 countries and during his spare time, he completed 6 full marathons and an Olympic distance triathlon. During the summer, he played short stop and left field for St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Edmond and is passionate about cultural intelligence and student retention in higher education

Rotarian Sponsor: Ted Streuli, Dave Rhea, and Herb Gilkey


11-6-18

Ron Kelly is originally from Illinois, and after stops in Indiana and Texas, came to Oklahoma City to serve as the President and CEO of Epworth Villa Retirement Community. Ron has worked in various senior living executive roles for

faith-based, non-profits since

1994.

He is a graduate of Illinois State University in Accounting.

Ron and his wife have 5 children and recently became empty nesters.  Family and church fill their time outside of work, and he personally enjoys golf, music, and the St. Louis Cardinals.

Rotarian Sponsors: Laura Garrett, David Battles, and Ron Perry

 

Sarah Barrow grew up in southwestern Oklahoma and attended Oklahoma State University studying Advertising and Public Relations.

While at OSU, she met her husband of 37 years and they lived in Tulsa upon graduation, until he was transferred to Atlanta. After 8 years there, they then moved to his hometown of Little Rock, but they had always talked about wanting to move back to Oklahoma. In 1997, that opportunity arose when she went to work for Jordan Advertising. After working at a variety of advertising agencies in Oklahoma City, she went to work selling advertising for the Journal Record. Although she left the Journal Record in 2015, she returned in 2017 and serves as their Advertising Director.

Sarah has 3 grown children – Audrey Barrow who works at Paycom; Abbey Barrow Trent who works at the Science Museum of Oklahoma; and Aaron Barrow is an attorney in Washington, D.C. She also has a wired hair fox terrier, Pete, who keeps her busy.

Sarah’s hobbies include tailgating at OSU football games, gardening, and playing with her super-cute 6-year-old grandson.

Rotarian Sponsors: Ted Streuli, Brooke Haneborg, and Mary Melon  

Growing up in Midwest City, Jay Corwin has lived in Norman and Edmond for 12 years, each. Both of his parents were very active in Midwest City Rotary, each serving as President and they frequently brought up the four-way test in dinner conversations.

Jay has a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism/Public Relations, a Master’s in Adult and Higher Education, and a Ph.D. in Adult and Higher Education – all from OU.

He originally came to UCO as the Director of Academic Advisement in 2006 and has worked in various capacities geared toward student success since then. He is the Associate Vice President for Advancement at the University of Central Oklahoma, and he is focused on helping raise scholarship dollars for the university and its students.

Jay and his wife, Jana, have 2 children – a 9-year-old daughter and a 6-year-old son – who keep them on their toes at all times. He has truly loved coaching their teams through the YMCA and Crossings athletics and enjoys spending time with family. He currently services on boards with the Deer Creek Schools Foundation and Edmond Mobile Meals. He is also a very passionate wish granter with Make-A-Wish Oklahoma and have helped grant wishes for ten years.

Rotarian Sponsors Georgia Fiering, Marion Paden, and Bill Hughes


11-13-18

 

Michelle Keylon

Michelle Keylon was raised in Tonkawa, stayed in Oklahoma for college, and got her first teaching position at Okmulgee High School. She later went to work at the Oklahoma Department of CareerTech in Stillwater, and in 2005 moved to Oklahoma City to accept a director position with Francis Tuttle Technology Center.

Her Bachelor’s Degree is in Secondary Education from OSU, her Master’s Degree is in Adult Education from OSU, and her Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership is from North Central University.

Michelle is currently the Deputy Superintendent/Chief Operations Officer, and she is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the district, focused on the development of people and processes in the areas of instruction, business and industry training, human resources, facilities management and development, information technology, marketing, finance, and campus safety.

And she is the proud mom of two kiddos – Kolton who is 15 and Kinley who is 11. She enjoys all kinds of dancing (ballroom, tap, ballet, modern, lyrical, etc.), reading, and family movie time including watching the Star Wars Series, Jurassic Park Series, and anything Marvel!

Rotarian Sponsors Tom Friedemann, Russ Florence, and Bob Parrish

 

Jennifer Hamer was born in Oklahoma City, grew up in Mustang, and currently lives in southwest Oklahoma City.

She stayed in Oklahoma for college, earning her Bachelors in Business Administration at the University of Oklahoma.

Jennifer has over 18 years of corporate banking experience and serves as the Senior Vice President of Treasury Management for Bank SNB, a division of Simmons Bank. As a Treasury Management officer, she has primary responsibility for providing cash management solutions and relationship management to commercial clients while building successful industry relationships and continued growth of the Oklahoma City commercial market.

Jennifer is a member of the Association of Financial Professionals of Central Oklahoma. A debt-free advocate, she provides personalized financial counseling solutions to people in the community seeking to become financially independent. She is also a recent Leadership Oklahoma City graduate, of Class 36. And she was a guest speaker for OU Women’s Day 2018.

Jennifer is married to Dustin Hamer, an electrical contractor who owns and operates Sledge Electric, Inc. And together they have two boys, Carson (11) and Dane (7). Her latest project is developing five and half acres in southwest Oklahoma City for her future family home.
Additionally, she enjoys cooking, traveling, reading, gardening, carpooling her boys to their activities, and being a personal financial counselor.

Rotarian Sponsors Lesli Massad, Ashley Smith, and Jeanette Nance

 

David Hull originally came to Oklahoma City in 1988, and he is in Regional Sales for the foodservice division of Smithfield Foods.

He graduated from Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Animal Science.

David’s interests are most importantly his children and grandchildren, as well as politics, horticulture, Iowa State and the University of Oklahoma athletics, and golf.

Rotarian Sponsors Rick Vermillion, Ed Porter, and Barney Semtner  


11-20-18

Stan Chase‘s father was an Air Force veteran and they came for his duty station at Tinker Air Force Base during his 9th grade year of Junior High.  After high school graduation from Del City, he went on to graduate from Southern Nazarene University with both his Bachelor and Master degrees in Business Management.

Stan is the CEO of NvYA Technology, which focuses on an overall strategy for the company including growth, customer relations, and financial performance.

Stan and his wife of 37 years, Pam, have one son, Sam, an OKC Entrepreneur.  We are appreciative of his service, as he is a Retired Lieutenant Colonel from the Oklahoma Army National Guard and interestingly, also the Former Co-Founder of Perimeter Technology Center and The Rock Island Group.

He enjoys working with entrepreneurs in OKC through the Thunder Launch Pad and Oklahoma Venture Forum.  Additionally he is active in Leadership OKC, Leadership Oklahoma, Vizavance, and NewView Oklahoma.  His hobbies are travel, reading, snow skiing, and “road trips”.

Rotarian Sponsors John Parsons, Lauren Branch, and Mike McAuliffe

 

Originally from Houston, Mike Potter worked on the technology and consulting side of the energy business for over 30 years, and in 2013, he moved to Oklahoma City with Devon Energy.

Mike is now the Chief Information Officer and Vice President of Strategic Alignment for CompSource Mutual Insurance Company, leading the Information Technology department and including long term planning and strategic alignment.

Mike earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science from the University of Houston in 1984.

Mike and his wife have 3 daughters and a grandson.  Two of their daughters and their grandson live in the Houston area and their youngest daughter is a junior at OU.  Mike and his wife enjoy all that Oklahoma City has to offer including great restaurants, theater, and quality of life.  When not in OKC, Mike and his wife can be found at their bay house in Galveston, TX, where they like taking long walks on the beach.  Mike is a member of the Men’s Dinner Club in OKC, and past board member of Ronald McDonald House Galveston.

Rotarian Sponsors Jason Clark, Nick Harroz, and Will Beckman


11-27-18

Melanie Thompson Stillinger was born in Houston, TX, as both her parents were. They moved from Houston to Greensboro, NC, then Mobile, AL, then to OKC as her dad transferred with the Better Business Bureau. As an adult, she moved with her late husband to the Dallas area, then to St. Louis, MO, and back to OKC in 1992 and she has remained here since that time.  Rotary was strong in her family, as her dad, Forrest Wilkins, was a former Rotarian with perfect attendance while he was Executive Director for the Better Business Bureau in OKC.

 

She graduated Putnam City High School and attended the University of Central Oklahoma.  She has both the SPHR (Senior Professional in Human Resources) from HR Certification Institute and SHRM–SCP (Senior Certified Professional) from the Society of HR Professionals.

 

Melanie has had a 30-year career in Staffing/Recruiting and has been the Vice President of Business Development for Mosaic Personnel since 2014.  She began with Manpower in Dallas, TX and after an 18-year career with them, she worked as Director, VP, then President of HLP Solutions in OKC and Dallas.

 

Melanie has been married to her husband, Richard Stillinger, since 2004 and together they have four grown children in OKC and St. Paul, MN and three granddaughters.  Her favorite thing to do is spend time with three-year-old Nora!

 

She is passionate about her volunteer roles with YWCA and OKC Metro Employers Council, and her hobbies are primarily spending time with family, reading, and gardening.  She loves making new friends and building relationships.

Rotarian Sponsors Brooke Haneborg, Jan Peery, and Donna Miller


12-4-18

We are appreciative of Hal Hoxie‘s service to our country, as he spent 27 years flying F-15s and completing an impressive career in the US Air Force. When he retired in 2010, he became President of the Central Christian College of Kansas, in McPherson. While serving as President, he joined the Butterfield Memorial Foundation board and they eventually hired him as their President. The Butterfield Memorial Foundation (BMF) is a charitable Foundation whose granting policies are limited to Christian 501(c)3 organizations for medical purposes. In addition to its typical foundation activities, the Foundation operates two wholly-owned subsidiaries – Deaconess Pregnancy & Adoption Services (DPAS) and Open Arms Clinic (OAC). He and his wife moved here and he took the job August 2nd.

Hal has a MS in Strategic Studies from Marine Corps University, a degree in Political Science from Air Command and Staff College, a MA in Sports Administration from University of Northern Colorado, and a BS in Business Administration and Economics from Eastern Oregon State College.

Hal and his wife, Kathy, have 4 adult boys and 10 grandchildren, with another one due in November. His hobbies are his grandchildren, flying, golf, and coaching.

Rotarian Sponsors Tom Phillips, Marion Paden and Rick Vermillion

 

 

Russell Ray was born in Fort Polk, Louisiana, and grew up in Jenks, attending high school there. He went on to attend Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, earning his Bachelor’s degree in Political Science.

Russell spent the last nine years living in Owasso, Oklahoma, working for Tulsa-based PennWell Corporation, serving as chairman of POWER-GEN International, PennWell’s largest convention, and seven years as Editor-in-Chief of Power Engineering magazine, the world’s largest trade magazine for the power sector. Ray was a business reporter for The Tampa TribuneTulsa World and Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. For eight years, he covered the energy industry in Oklahoma and Texas for the Tulsa World. He has also covered politics, insurance, energy and agriculture in Florida for The Tampa Tribune. Ray also covered the big three in northwest Arkansas – Tyson Foods, Walmart and J.B. Hunt – for the Arkansas Democrat Gazette.

Russell is now the Editor of The Journal Record, where he oversees the day-to-day editorial operations. In total, he has spent 25 years in journalism and is a member of the American Society of Newspaper Editors and the Association of Opinion Journals.

Russell and his wife, Deborah, who is a public school teacher of 6th grade math, have two grown sons, Jacob and Daniel. His passions are family, journalism, writing, and football.

Additional cool factoids about our new member:  his football hero is Dick Butkus; his life hero is his dad, Rodney Ray. He loves Harley Davidson motorcycles (owns a softail slim). Ray was the editor of his college newspaper (The Northeastern) and he worked his way through college by working at the local radio station in Tahlequah and covering sports as a stringer for the Muskogee Phoenix (a Gannett newspaper at the time).

Rotarian Sponsors Sarah Barrow, Brooke Haneborg and Russ Florence


1-22-2019

Suzette Chang is a native Californian, from the San Francisco Bay area. She and her family moved to Oklahoma City in August of 2002 to take advantage of the great cost of living in Oklahoma!

She is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma, having earned her Masters in Library and Information Studies and Masters of Arts, Anthropology.

Suzette is the Founder and CEO of Thick Descriptions, based in Oklahoma City. She identifies and navigates opportunities to bridge gaps by investing in individuals, organizations, and corporations through cultural intelligence and scientific empowerment. From the perspectives of biology, culture, archaeology and language, Suzette works with like-minded investors to disrupt the false perception that customary beliefs define human beings and is committed to shirting ineffective perspectives of social and scientific understandings within the context of health, culture, language, history and other spaces that influence the quality of human life.

In addition, Suzette is the Executive Director of Guthrie Public Library and oversees all administrative responsibilities of the Logan County Municipal Information Hub.

Suzette served as the Chair of the Logan County United Way and Social Responsibilities Round Table for the Oklahoma Library Association; is a Board Member of the Oklahoma City Girls Art School, Logan County Kiwanis, Midwest City Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Prayer Breakfast, Logan County OSU Extension, Friends of the Excelsior Library and member of the American Anthropology Association and OKC NAACP.  She published Public Libraries: This Is How We Dewey-It! Understanding Why Teens Do What They Do: Digging Underneath the Surface of Teen Reading, Oklahoma Library Association Quarterly. 2013 (63): 170-172 and “I Live in Boley, America”:  Exploring a Contemporary Identity for African-American Boley Residents, University of Oklahoma Press, 2016.

Rotarian Sponsors: Freda Deskin, Lou Kerr, and Franci Hart

 

Mike  Jackson served our state in the Oklahoma House of Representatives from 2004 to 2014. He took a job with the State Chamber of Oklahoma and has been in his current role as the Executive VP of the chamber for two years. He oversees Government Affairs, Political Affairs, and local outreach through the Chamber Action Network.

He graduated from Burlington High School and earned a degree from Oklahoma State University in Ag Communications with a minor in Ag Economics. Mike is currently pursuing an Institute of Management designation by the U.S. Chamber.

Mike is the father of 5 and grandfather of 2, with one more on the way. He enjoys basketball, music and karaoke. He has a passion for kids and has served on many boards to try and help underprivileged children, in addition to being a CASA volunteer.

Rotarian Sponsors: Randy Grau, Jerrod Shouse, and Allen Wright

 

Larry  Stein grew up in an Air Force family. His father was from Wisconsin and met his mother in London England where Larry was born. He attended 9 public schools in different states before his parents retired in Midwest City. Larry continues friendships with people he attended kindergarten with who graduated with him from Midwest City High School, the home of the Bombers.

After graduating from Midwest City High School, Larry graduated from Rose State College with an Associate’s Degree in Journalism. He went on to graduate from the University of Oklahoma with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism with a minor in economics. While attending OU, Larry earned an Athletic Letter for Excellence in the Sport of Fencing. During an internship program, Larry earned the prestigious Washington Press Club Award for Consumer Journalism.

During his career in journalism, Larry covered everything from the White House to the Courthouse from Presidents, Governors, and Legislators; to accused and convicted murderers, felons and all sorts of natural disasters. After his journalism career, Larry worked with political leaders at the state and federal level to promote economic development and greater efficiencies.

Larry has worked with the Oklahoma County Assessor’s Office, which is responsible for assessing the current market value of more than 350,000 parcels of property in the 720 square miles that make up Oklahoma County, and are worth more than $7 Billion – it’s the largest assessing job in Oklahoma and represents more than 23% of the entire state of Oklahoma’s assessed value of property. Larry has helped pass millions of dollars of property tax breaks for the qualified low-income elderly and disabled military veterans. He has had articles published in national and international magazines and other publications.

Larry earned enough votes on November 6, 2018 to be elected as Oklahoma County Assessor and will replace Leonard Sullivan.

Larry’s hobbies are an eclectic mix; he is very interested in history and government and is the Communications Director for the Bradley Breakfast made up of community leaders who have regular meetings with local, state and federal leaders in business and government; he is a regular guest on radio and television broadcasts for his views on politics. Former assistant Chef Larry has a love for cooking from Oriental, middle eastern and classic American dishes. A motorcycle enthusiast, he is one of the founding members of The Mild Hogs Motorcycle Club and is working to create a birthday celebration for Route 66 The Mother Road Rally-Thunder on the Great Plains to promote Oklahoma having more of the Route 66 than any other state.

Larry has his own political and communications company and has made presentations to national and international groups on how to effectively communicate a positive message.  In addition his company provides branding and style advice.

Most important to note…Larry also has a wild sock and cuff-link collection.

Rotarian Sponsors: Leonard Sullivan, Rick Warren, and Hank Bradley

Thanks to Karen Youngblood for the bios of the new rotarians!


2-5-19

Socrates Lazaridis was born and raised in Athens, Greece. Upon his graduation from high school, he attended the University of Rome in Italy, where he graduated with his Bachelor’s degree from the School of Architecture. He returned to Greece where he received his license to practice architecture and structural engineering. He was accepted by the school of Architecture and graduated in 1986 by completing a thesis on Energy Conservation Principles and Design from the University of Oklahoma’s Architecture Master’s program.

Socrates is President and Principal-in-Charge of Renaissance Architects. He is responsible for design, production, scheduling, quality control and construction administration of each project. He is a licensed Architect in Oklahoma and Texas, as well as a licensed Interior Designer in Oklahoma. He is also NCARB certified which allows him to practice architecture nationwide.

Socrates hobbies are philosophy, design, travel, and landscaping.

He has a passion for designing facilities that provide safe and secure environments for School Districts and communities. He presented at the Oklahoma State Schools Board Association the topic “Hardening Our Schools” in which he discussed specific safety designs that could help provide more secure facilities for our students and teachers. He has also produced a video featuring secure school designs and the video and presentation are available to view on Renaissance Architects website at http://www.renaissancearchitects.com.

Socrates has been married for 32 years to his wife, Janis Lazaridis. In 1996, Socrates and Janis founded Renaissance Architects in Oklahoma City, OK. As President and Principal Architect, Socrates provides oversight and management in all areas of the firm. As CFO, Janis manages all financial and business-related actions of the company. The firm consists of 14 staff members, including 7 licensed architects. According to The Journal Record, Renaissance Architects is listed as one of the top architectural firms in the Oklahoma City metropolitan area. Over the past 22 years, Renaissance Architects has provided architectural services nationwide for over $1B in construction projects.

Rotarian Sponsors Ron Perry, Ted Perry, and James Pickel; Socrates Lazaridis

 

Julia Jernigan Smith moved to Oklahoma in middle school and came to OKC through going to college, staying here after she was finished with her degrees.

She earned her Bachelor of Science from the University of Central Oklahoma and her Masters of Social Work and Public Administration from University of Oklahoma.

Julia is an owner of Creative Capitol Strategies where she is a Lobbyist and Government Relations Consultant – successfully representing the interests of their clients with effectiveness, professionalism and integrity in a variety of areas.

She enjoys traveling to interesting places where she can scuba dive or have interactive experiences. Golfing and cooking are her other hobbies that she enjoys when she is home. Areas of interest are her passion projects – she has always had a heart for community and volunteer work. Currently she is on the Board of Directors for the Care Center, serves as the Co-Chair and Co-Founder for the Young Professional Board of ReMerge, on the fundraising committee for the red tie gala and volunteer in various organizations across the community.

Achievements in her field have earned her recognition from the Oklahoma’s 30 under 30, alumni status for OKC’s LOYAL Program and Leadership Exchange Academy.

Julia lives in Edmond with her husband and their adorable dog, Duncan.

Rotarian Sponsors Ted Streuli, Jarrod Shouse, and Terri White; Julia Jernigan Smith.

 

Heather Lunsford is from Enid and came to Oklahoma as the Director of Art in Public Places from the San Antonio Museum of Art. She leads art direction of The Heritage in the Journal Record Building in downtown and is currently the Director of the School of Visual Art at Oklahoma City University, which includes film, studio art and graphic design, and she also directs the University art gallery.

She earned her undergrads from Oklahoma State University in Studio Art and Art History. She also has a Masters in Art Administration from the University of the Incarnate Word.

Heather is a watercolorist, plays tennis, speaks Spanish, rides horses, farms and ranches near Enid. She travels often and enjoys mission work.

Heather and her husband, a retired Air Force and a pilot for United Airlines, have two children – a Junior at Bishop McGuiness as well as a 4th grader.

Rotarian Sponsors Bill White, Randy Nance, and Chris Wilson; Heather Lunsford.


3-26-19

Jeff Ewing came to OKC in 2011 to manage the 2014 US Senior Open at Oak Tree National. He truly enjoyed his experience and wanted to stay in OKC. He has had great business and work opportunities as well as meeting and marrying his awesome wife Abigail. In fact, he can’t believe that it has already been 8 years in OKC!

He earned his Bachelors in Business Administration and his Bachelors in Sports Management, both from Missouri Baptist University.

Jeff is the Chief Development Officer for the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, where he oversees and manages all fundraising, development initiatives, and special events for the museum.

He was the 2012 Missouri Baptist University Outstanding Young Alumnus Award Recipient and in 2015 was honored with the Achievers Under 40 presented by the Journal Record. He is also a member of Leadership OKC Class 34 and involved in community organizations by being on the Board of Directors for YMCA of Greater OKC, OK Sports Hall of Fame, OKC Adventure District, and Latino Community Development Agency.

He also spends his time and energy with golf tournaments for the First Tee of OKC and Peaceful Family Solutions, as well as involvement with Fields and Futures and Special Olympics.

Jeff’s interests and hobbies include golf and fishing, travel, and spending time with his family.

Rotarian Sponsors Ellen Fleming, Clayton Taylor, and Judy Hatfield

 

Michael Levine was born, raised, and settled in Oklahoma City, graduating from Heritage Hall.

He graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a Bachelor’s degree in History and is currently attending the Graduate School of Banking Colorado at Boulder, with an expected graduation in July.

Michael is the Senior Vice President over the Private Bank Division at First Liberty Bank. His primary job responsibilities are to grow commercial loan and deposit relationships within the healthcare, professional, executive and commercial real estate sectors. He is a producing manager and manages two employees including another loan officer.

He and his wife, Jennifer, have been married 4 ½ years and have two sons, Meyer (2 ½), and Miles, who joined the family in late February. They live in Quail Creek and love being active in all the family and neighborhood activities in their community. They attend Christ the King church and have been parishioners there for over 5 years.

His hobbies include playing and/or watching just about any sport but especially football, baseball, basketball and golf. His favorite teams include OU, OKC Thunder, Denver Broncos and the Chicago Cubs. In addition to sports, he loves to spend time with his family, go to concerts, and travel.

Rotarian Sponsors Nick Harroz, Cindy Batt, and Ted Perry


5-21-19

Danny Smith was born in Frederick, Oklahoma but he grew up in Cushing. He moved to Oklahoma City when he stared medical school and has been here ever since.

He graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Zoology from Oklahoma State. He then went on to graduate from OU Medical School and had both his Internal Medicine Internship and Residency as well as his Fellowship in Gastroenterology at OUHSC.

Danny was in private practice for 29 ½ years, most as a member of Digestive Disease Specialist Inc. He is currently employed by DDSI to provide GI hospitalist coverage at Baptist Integris Hospital one week each month.

He is in semiretirement and loves traveling, hiking, going to the lake with family and friends, golfing, and watching college football and Thunder basketball. He loves spending time with his two grandchildren and he and his wife, Betsy, have been active members of Church of the Servant for 35 years.

Rotarian Sponsors: Bob Cooke, Ron Perry, and Jim Jennings

 

Emily Taylor  is from the Oklahoma City area, and although she lived abroad for a bit in France, she ultimately came back to the state she loves.

Emily graduated from the University of Oklahoma, with her Bachelor’s Degree in Advertising and Journalism.

She runs and operates a fun, creative group of people that provide full service advertising and full-length feature films to clients throughout the world. They have their most loved local clients in OKC and internationally as far as Beijing.

Emily’s hobbies are the piano and reading about the latest tech (not gadgets/web tech). She loves traveling and going out to the lake and ranch. She is involved in the OKC, Stillwater and Lawton Chamber’s of Commerce. She and her husband are currently on the wait list for an adoption so her absolute favorite thing in the world to talk about is adopting.

Rotarian Sponsors Jill Merritt, Sheena Karami, and Mike McAuliffe

 

Crystal Bennett was born and raised in Shawnee, Oklahoma. She moved to Oklahoma City after graduating from Oklahoma State University with a Bachelor of Business Administration with an emphasis in Marketing.

Crystal is the Manager, Municipal Services at Republic Services for Central and Western Oklahoma. She manages 26 cities and towns with annual revenues of 12 million and is responsible for the development and growth of each municipality. This includes negotiating and pricing contracts, participating and managing the government and community affairs activities, meeting regularly with key decision makers along with state and federal agencies to bring value-added services to the franchise relationships. The cities that she manages for recycling are among the nation’s leaders in participation.

She is involved in many industry and community organizations. She is married to Kevin Bennett, an Oklahoma City attorney and they have 5 children – Carly, Matt, Chaz, Zach, and Bethany. Crystal loves to travel, shop, and decorate…as well as spend time with the kids, who are all in college.

Rotarian Sponsors Jeanette Nance, Lisa Synar, and Ashley Smith

Thanks to Rotarian Karen Youngblood for these biographies!


5-28-19

Kevin  Boyd was born in Sand Springs, Oklahoma and moved to Norman to attend the University of Oklahoma. He met his wife there and still lives there today.

He earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting from OU and is a Certified Public Accountant.

Kevin is a Commercial Banker for JPMorgan Chase Bank, focused on providing financial solutions to middle market businesses across the state.

He loves to spend quality time with his wife and two daughters, being outside and trying to stay off his phone. He is also a passionate supporter of the Downtown YMCA.

Rotarian Sponsors: David Jackson, Joe McKenzie, John Taylor

 

AJ Griffin grew up in Adair in Northeast Oklahoma. After 23 years of living in her husband’s hometown of Guthrie, they made their way south to be closer to the state capitol.

She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Hotel and Restaurant Administration from Oklahoma State University and her Master’s in Education from the University of Central Oklahoma.

AJ is the Director of Government Affairs for Paycom, managing their company interactions with Government and Community officials across the country.

AJ is married to Trey and is mom to her two children – Alexandra and Reagan. In addition to Rotary, she serves on the boards for Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits, Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy, Generation Citizen, and the Oklahoma Academy. She is an avid Oklahoma State fan and an avid reader who loves to travel.

Rotarian Sponsors: Jerrod Shouse, Susan Winchester,
Anne Roberts, Jane Jenkins

 

Katharine Johnston was born in Denver and her family moved to OKC when she was 8 years old.

She attended the University of Central Oklahoma, earning her degrees in Finance and Accounting.

Katharine is a CPA and is the Senior Audit Manager with Eide Bailly, specializing in financial statement audits and consulting projects for hospitals and healthcare organizations.

Her entire family are sports fans and enjoy watching and attending football and basketball games from professional to college to little league. She loves summer and being outside, going on beach vacations and lounging by the pool. She is a total “boy mom” which runs in her family since her siblings and she have a total of 10 kids – 9 boys and 1 girl! Prior to Rotary, she spent the majority of her volunteer time with the Junior League of OKC.

Rotarian Sponsors: David Mayfield, Sheena Karami, Jill Merritt

 

Michelle Morrow was born and raised in OKC and after college lived in Tulsa, working for American Airlines in the accounting department and then transferred to the DFW area where she worked for the airlines as a project manager on the IT side of the house. She finally had an opportunity to come back home for an opportunity in the Architectural/Engineering/Construction industry 8 years ago. She started as a manufacturer’s rep for exterior building materials (she’s a certified roofer!), then worked for a flooring subcontractor, and has found her home with a local commercial construction company, Miller-Tippens Construction, as the Director of Business Development. She says, “it’s great to be back home in OKC!”.

She earned her BS in Marketing from the College of Business with a minor in International Economics from Oklahoma State University.

Michelle is active with her church, St. Elijah Orthodox Christian Church, where she has served in many roles over the years, and most recently was the president of the women’s organization for 4 years. She is a board member of SMPS, a marketing organization specifically geared toward marketers and business developers in the A/E/C community. And she is active as a volunteer with AIA (American Institute of Architects) of Central Oklahoma Chapter.

Her hobbies include cooking, baking, and entertaining friends and family, paddleboarding, hiking, traveling, and spending time with her family! While she doesn’t have children of her own, she has many nieces and nephews and eight godchildren!

Rotarian Sponsors: Blair Naifeh, Lance McDaniel, Jim Farha

 

6-11-19

Jeff Starling was born and raised in a small town, Danville, in rural Virginia and moved to Oklahoma City in 2012.

He received both his undergraduate and law degrees from Wake Forest University.

Jeff joined Lagoon Water Solutions as General Counsel in April 2019. Prior to Lagoon, he served for 7 years as in-house counsel at Devon Energy Corporation, most recently as Assistant General Counsel, where he supported the company’s operations teams and oversaw all aspects of the company’s litigation. Before joining Devon, Jeff was a litigation partner at McGuireWoods LLP in Richmond, Virginia and he has also lived and worked in Washington, D.C. as a legislative aide to former U.S. Senator John W. Wagner, and in Roanoke, Virginia, as a law clerk to former U.S. District Court Judge Samuel G. Wilson.

Jeff has served in a variety of capacities for various community-based organizations. He currently serves as President Elect of the board of directors of the Oklahoma Philharmonic Society, Vice Chair of the board of trustees of the Science Museum of Oklahoma, Chair of the Lawsuit Reform Committee of the State Chamber of Oklahoma, and is an alumnus of the Leadership Oklahoma City, Class 34.

An avid outdoorsman and fly-fisherman, Jeff and his wife, Sally, enjoy hiking and traveling with their two girls, ages 12 and 9.+

Rotarian Sponsors: Chip Oppenheim, Robert Clements, and Sam Hammons

 

Michael Figgins is originally from Jacksonville, Florida and came to Oklahoma City in 2012 as a result of new employment.

He has his BA in History from Arizona State University and his JD from Gonzaga School of Law.

Michael is the Executive Director at Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma, which is a law firm that provides access to civil legal services to low-income persons.

His passion is his wife, his daughter, and access to justice…along with Thunder basketball and White Sox baseball.

Rotarian Sponsors: David Walters, J. Don Harris, and Jim Loftis

 

Tim Rasnic hails from the southwest corner of the state and assumed the role of Executive Director of the Oklahoma Zoological Society in August 2016.  Working with the OZS board of directors and staff, Tim leads the nonprofit organization that has responsibility for membership, fundraising, and special events that benefit the Oklahoma City Zoo.

Formerly, Tim served in alumni and development roles at the University of Oklahoma.  While he knew many people in the Oklahoma City area with his previous work at OU, Tim expressed that he has truly enjoyed becoming a member of such an exciting, thriving community and many people have made him feel welcome.

Tim was a former member of the Sooner Rotary Club in Norman and prior to that was a member of the Rotary Group Study Exchange Team that traveled to Manchester, England in the early 1990’s.  One of the greatest benefits to that experience is that Tim became very close with another team member named Janis Nance who also lived in Norman.  Soon after they returned home they started dating and four years later they became known as the Rotary romance.  They married and now have three children, two of whom have been named Rotary Students of the Year and been awarded Rotary scholarships.

He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Public Affairs and Administration from the University of Oklahoma.

Tim’s community service includes stints as chair of Leadership Programs and Tomorrow’s Leaders for the Norman Chamber, program chair for the Norman Sooner Rotary Club, panel member for United Way allocations, and two-term president of Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Cleveland County.  He is an alumnus of Leadership Oklahoma Class XII and served two terms as a member of the board.  He was one of three LOK alumni who helped create the Youth Leadership Oklahoma Program with the LOK executive director.  Tim is also a recent graduate of Leadership Oklahoma City Class 37.

Tim had great fun coaching his kids in youth basketball and soccer and recently has enjoyed serving as president and vice president of the Norman North Boys Basketball Booster Club.  Tim and his wife Janis are the proud parents of three great kids – Meredith, a senior at OU majoring in public relations; Ryan, who just completed his freshman year at OU studying business; and Reid, who will be a senior at Norman North High School. Tim enjoys attending OU football, basketball, and softball games, playing tennis and ping pong.

Rotarian Sponsors: Nancy Leonard, Dwight Lawson, and Emily Stratton

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