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2018 Excellence in Leadership Honorees

Wednesday, December 20, 2017   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Tina Biard
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Leadership Oklahoma Honors Four State Leaders

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla., December 18, 2017—Leadership Oklahoma will present four awards for leadership at its annual Excellence in Leadership Gala at The Skirvin in Oklahoma City on Saturday, April 21, 2018.

“Each year, Leadership Oklahoma recognizes the outstanding contributions of Oklahoma corporate and individual leaders for their commitment and service to elevating the quality of life and empowering our state for greater prosperity,” said Marion Paden, President and CEO of Leadership Oklahoma. “This year’s Excellence in Leadership award recipients are truly deserving based upon the remarkable and meaningful differences they have made in Oklahoma. It is our privilege to honor them.”

The Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes individuals who have used their leadership abilities to improve the quality of life for Oklahoma's citizens and its future generations. This year’s Leadership Oklahoma Lifetime Achievement Award recipient is Bob Blackburn, of Oklahoma City. In a state that doesn’t always have the greatest sense of pride in itself and her people, Bob Blackburn has given every one of us a reason to hold our heads up high and be proud to be from or in Oklahoma, knowing we share that with all sorts of talent, grace, heart, and skills from fellow Oklahomans. He tirelessly travels around and has people in to tell their own stories or the stories of their families or industries, connected with others. Though he is in a constant state of fundraising and collecting, he is genuinely curious about everyone and their ties, and wants to share those stories. He was the face of Oklahoma History during the Centennial, but has worked for the Oklahoma Historical Society since the 1970s, and has been a champion for every aspect of the Society, starting with publications and encompassing collections, sites, preservation, personnel, and prestige. He has touched every county and community in the state, whether in person or through his work. His task list includes opening the Oklahoma Museum of Popular Culture in Tulsa, getting the Grants-in-Aid program going strong, and building the OHS endowment, all the while he will continue writing and researching various aspects of Oklahoma History, and he remain one of, if not the most famous Oklahoma historians throughout his life. Blackburn’s most notable accomplishments as executive director of the Oklahoma Historical Society are spearheading the creation, opening, and overall vision of the Oklahoma History Center; a world class Smithsonian affiliated site, and beginning the creation of the Oklahoma Museum of Popular Culture, better known as OKPOP, overseeing and being a part of the historical celebrations for the Oklahoma Centennial; continuing to work with politicians emphasizing the importance of our history and advocating government funding for all of the Society; and travelling all over the state speaking to countless groups, capturing the stories from innumerable people, and charming the world in person, in speech, and through over twenty-two books and numerous articles and editorials. Blackburn is truly Mr. Oklahoma; preserving who we are as state through its people. The voices of the past and present deserving to be listened to, learn from, and give us roots to flourish.

The Distinguished Graduate Award honors a Leadership Oklahoma graduate whose recent leadership activities have exemplified the highest standards of Leadership Oklahoma and whose activities achieved results or set an example of statewide significance. The Distinguished Graduate Award belongs to Marci Donaho, of Seminole, who has dedicated her life serving her community and investing in the people around her. A graduate of Leadership Oklahoma Class XII, Donaho is a long-time public school educator who for the past 21 years has served as executive director of the Jasmine Moran Children’s Museum in Seminole, first serving as the founding board president for 8 years. She is the consummate community volunteer and cheerleader. She has stepped up to take on difficult roles - particularly in running for the Seminole School Board, during a tumultuous time in the public school’s history. Donaho is a great example of a servant leader; coordinating, leading, planning community and civic events, while rolling up her sleeves to serve in Salvation Army Soup Kitchen and the Rotary Christmas Day Community dinner, judge a school talent competition or auction off desserts at a Chamber fund raiser. She has influenced the lives of countless children from Oklahoma and beyond from her work as a classroom teacher of 27 years and now as director of a hands-on career and education based Children’s Museum. She is a recognized leader in the community of Seminole, as well in state and regional organizations. She is a member and past president of the Seminole Chamber of Commerce and was named Seminole’s “Citizen of the Year” for 2002. Donaho serves on the Seminole School Board and was honored with induction into the Seminole Hall of Fame in 2015 and has been nominated three times as one of 50 Women Making a Difference in the State of Oklahoma as recognized by the Oklahoma Journal Record newspaper. She was appointed to the Seminole State College Board of Regents by Oklahoma Governor Brad Henry in 2005, and reappointed in 2012 by Governor Mary Fallin. She has served as a director of the Frontier Country Marketing Association and is a past president of the Oklahoma Marketing Association and the Oklahoma Museum Association. In 2007, she was selected as “Tourism Professional of the Year” by the Oklahoma Travel Industry Association and the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department. She is a board member of the Seminole Family Resource Center, a Seminole BancFirst Community Director, and serves on the board of Seminole Alliance Hospital. Donaho is also an active member of the Seminole Rotary Club and co-chairs the Chamber’s Leadership Seminole Program. She has left a legacy of achievement, tenacity and humility in her wake impacting all who know her.

The Business Leadership Award commends a business entity for its impact in promoting leadership principles and practices, implementing programs worthy of example, and fostering the growth of quality leadership. The Business Leadership Award will honor Public Service Company of Oklahoma (PSO), whose service to the state extends well beyond delivering electricity. PSO employees volunteer for hundreds of organizations statewide, with many of them serving in leadership roles. PSO’s corporate giving supports the areas PSO serves and the entire state. PSO has been instrumental in bringing together public and private entities to find innovative solutions to create a better future for Oklahomans on critical issues like education, basic needs and cultural enhancement. PSO has a special emphasis on supporting and expanding early childhood education and Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) initiatives. They offer the Bright Start Right Start Preschool Teacher Science Workshop, which incorporates science into preschool curriculum. Together with the American Electric Power (AEP) Foundation, PSO has provided substantial funding for key STEM initiatives, including a $3 million grant to the Tulsa Community College Foundation for a new STEM “Credits Count” program focusing on dual credit high school enrollment, and middle school summer STEM experiences. They also fund numerous high school and middle school robotics teams in PSO’s service areas, and grants for teachers to infuse STEM further into the classroom. PSO supports leadership development and STEM education through their partnership with Oklahoma FFA. Additionally, PSO's Light-A- Life energy fund administered by the Salvation Army helps Oklahoma families who could not otherwise afford to heat and cool their homes. The program is supported by the generosity of PSO customers. PSO pays the administrative costs of the program so all proceeds can go to directly to those who need it most. PSO’s economic development workshops and initiatives provide Oklahoma communities with tools they need to recruit, retain, and expand business in their areas. PSO is a leader in corporate Diversity and Inclusion efforts, having recently been named a 5 Star Mosaic Award for Diversity and Inclusion from the Tulsa Regional Chamber. When one thinks of the major companies that positively touch the lives of millions of Oklahomans, PSO is one of the first names that comes to mind. Since its founding in 1913, the company has been a model corporate citizen, investing in the communities they serve in a variety of ways.

The Statewide Community Award acknowledges an organization or company that, through specific projects or efforts, has reached across valued differences to develop among Oklahomans a sense of common purpose and a more profound sense of loyalty to their state. This award has been created to promote a heightened sense of appreciation for the possibilities available when Oklahomans work together as a single statewide community. The Statewide Community Award acknowledges Arvest Bank. Throughout the State of Oklahoma, Arvest Bank is committed to the communities they serve. This commitment to community has its roots with the founder, Sam Walton, who believed that as a community grows and prospers so will the banking community. Over the past 50 years, Arvest Bank has experienced tremendous growth, and can be found in many Oklahoma communities. Where these Arvest Banks exist, so does a culture of community involvement and support. This support is inclusive, reaching out to individuals, corporations, non‐profits, and civic activities. Arvest began a “Million Meals” campaign several years ago, to assist in feeding the hungry on an annual basis. This Oklahoma initiative touches tens of thousands throughout the Arvest communities each year through local food banks, and currently over 2 million meals per year are produced, by utilizing the vast Arvest branch network to support canned food drives, and direct financial gifts to this statewide hunger crisis. Arvest bankers build Habitat for Humanity houses, participate in walks to find cures, participate in the United Way’s Day of Caring, and countless more community improvement initiatives. From an education perspective, Arvest sponsors the “We Love Oklahoma Teachers” program, which is a social media campaign to recognize the teachers in the state that have impacted the lives of so many. Throughout Oklahoma, Arvest participates in the “Partners in Education” program, and have adopted high risk schools and participated in everything from providing financial assistance to volunteering as reading partners, and providing Christmas gifts for children that would otherwise not receive any. Arvest associates also participate in “JA in a Day”, which involves their associates teaching banking and economics classes to local schools. As Oklahomans, Arvest is aware of the challenges that this state faces, and choose to make a difference.

Co-chairs of the Leadership Oklahoma Excellence in Leadership Gala are Jody and Louis Wilham of Edmond and Kristen and Alan Case of Woodward. For ticket information or sponsorship opportunities, go to www.leadershipoklahoma.com or call 405.848.0001.

Leadership Oklahoma is a statewide organization with 1,528 graduates from 174 Oklahoma communities whose mission is to create, inspire and support a dynamic network of leaders whose increased awareness and commitment to service will energize Oklahomans to shape the Oklahoma’s future.

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