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Leadership Oklahoma Honors Four State Leaders

Friday, January 25, 2019   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Tina Biard
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Leadership Oklahoma Honors Four State Leaders

Leadership Oklahoma will present four awards for leadership at its annual Excellence in Leadership Gala at Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa on Saturday, April 13, 2019.

“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 Pat Potts, of Oklahoma City. Working tirelessly to better the lives of fellow Oklahomans unconditionally has been Pat’s legacy. Leading through action, she lives everyday believing all Oklahomans have the opportunity to achieve their full potential with the right foundation and resources to be successful. She has been a trailblazer for women in numerous organizations and boards most of her life including mentoring and supporting other leaders throughout the years. Her list of “firsts” is too lengthy to include all, however, a few to highlight are: first women elected president of the Oklahoma City School Board, Oklahoma City Beautiful, and Oklahoma City Zoo Trust; co-founder and president emeritus of the Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits; founder of Oklahoma Champions for Early Opportunities; and co-founder of the Oklahoma Women’s Coalition and the Potts Family Foundation where she served as the president and CEO for over 20 years. Her awards and board participation are numerous. Pat was honored as “Woman of the Year” by The Journal Record in 2012, with the Pioneer Woman Award by the Oklahoma Women’s Coalition in 2013, as a “Door-Opener” by ASTEC Charter Schools in 2015 and as a Festival of Hope Honoree in 2016 by HeartLine. She was inducted into the Oklahoma Women’s Hall of Fame in 2017, and with her husband Ray, into the OCU Business School Hall of Honor in 2017. Past board service includes Educare Center in Oklahoma City, Sunbeam Foundation, Metro Tech Foundation, Urban League, and Union Bank & Trust Company. She is a member of Leadership Oklahoma Class IX. Pat believes in leveraging resources “to address root causes and build the human potential of the people of our state one child and one organization at a time.”
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 Bruce Benbrook of Woodward, who has dedicated his life serving his community and investing in the people around him. For more than four decades, his tireless efforts have benefited numerous causes championing a vast array of projects, civic organizations, and philanthropic issues, offering his time and assets. A graduate of Leadership Oklahoma Class XIII, Bruce has served as president and chairman of the board of the Stock Exchange Bank since 1981 at the age of twenty-seven. His tenure includes serving as president of the Oklahoma Bankers Association, as well as numerous leadership capacities at the federal level with the American Bankers Association. He served as a member of the OSU Board of Regents, holding the position of chairman in 1994, and was the national president of the OSU Alumni Association, serving two terms on the OSU Foundation Board of Governors. Bruce served two terms as the District 6 Commissioner for the Oklahoma Transportation Commission, serving as chairman of the Audit Committee. He has been a board member for the State Chamber of Commerce and served as secretary of the Nature Conservancy of Oklahoma. Civically, he has served as chairman for many local organizations including the Woodward Chamber of Commerce, Woodward Industrial Foundation, United Fund, Woodward Education Foundation and Lions Club. Bruce currently serves on the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation Board of Directors and is a member of the board for the Oklahoma Hall of Fame, currently serving as chairman-elect. He served as a committee chair for the State Regents Task Force on the Future of Higher Education, chairman of Oklahoma Tomorrow, President of the Oklahoma Foundation For Excellence and is an advisory member of the board of the Oklahoma Small Business Development Center. Bruce was chairman of the board for Leadership Oklahoma in 2014. Accolades for his efforts include Woodward’s “Citizen of the Year”, OSU ’s “Distinguished Alumnus”, OSU’s “Spears School of Business 100 Outstanding Graduates”, Leadership Oklahoma’s “Distinguished Leadership Award”, LOK Class XIII’s “Golden Bull Award”, the “Community Partner Award” from the Red Cross, and The Journal Record’s “Most Admired CEO’s”. Bruce is the consummate volunteer and true community servant whose life exemplifies leadership and service to others.

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 Paycom located in Oklahoma City. Leadership is critical to Paycom’s success because true leaders build other leaders, which drives innovation that propels the organization forward. As such, leadership is embodied in our core values: winning, leading, grit, learning and serving. Paycom believes leadership is not tied to position or title, but to one’s ability to influence. If you want to lead, you should lead, no matter where you are within the organization. As a company they have a holistic approach to developing leaders at all levels of the organization, helping ensure they are able to meet the high growth demands of the business, which is a critical component to its continued long-term success. Paycom’s yearlong leadership program, LEAD, impacts every level of the organization. LEAD teaches employees 360-degree leadership by “LEADing” yourself, your clients and your team through the values of learning, service and leadership. Senior leaders engage with program participants by sharing experiences and practical applications of class curriculum. For young leaders, that type of feedback is especially powerful. Under this model, Paycom employees continue growing, both personally and professionally, and are able to more effectively teach and empower their clients. Coaching and developing are key components of Paycom’s leadership training, as participants learn how to engage and develop their team members using an “attitude of servitude.” Because Paycom has found a direct correlation exists between happy employees and happy clients, the company strives to create a supportive and empowering environment. Outside of LEAD and companywide, employees are given opportunities to attend leadership programs covering how to lead up, craft a team vision and conduct one-on-one sessions. From the top down, Paycom makes time to invest in its most important asset: its people. This mindset earned the company top-10 placement in the 2018 Leadership Excellence and Development Awards presented by for Innovation in Deployment of Leadership Programs. By living the core values, Paycom leaders impact their communities while inspiring others to provide unparalleled experience for co-workers and clients.

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 Home Creations. After leaving their home country of Iran to attend the University of Oklahoma, Jalal Farzaneh and his brother Mohammad started building their first home in 1981. As they grew their business, they founded Home Creations in 1994, a company that has grown to be one of Oklahoma’s largest homebuilding companies. Home Creations has made the dream of homeownership a reality for thousands of Oklahomans. Philanthropy is a core belief for the founders and its employees. One such program is “Hearts in Action”. Many Oklahomans struggle each day to put food on the table. During the months of October through December, Home Creations raises food and funds for the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma and the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma. With the donated cans, they construct a sculpture of a house to visually represent their effort as a company in helping fight hunger. Since 2006, Home Creations builds homes for deserving families through the Central Habitat for Humanity Builders Blitz program where contractors and vendors work together with Home Creations to build a future for those needing a hand up. They believe that making the dream of homeownership come true is good for all families, but also for the entire community. The employees are passionate about the cause and with their teamwork, a home is built generally within 5 days. The Farzaneh brothers, through the Farzaneh Family Foundation, have endowed two centers at the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University for better understanding of the Middle East and Persian Gulf region. They also give back to the communities through nonprofit organizations across the state. Some include the American Heart Association, United Way, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Rebuilding Together of Cleveland County, American Cancer Society, Fraternal Order of Police, Tinker Air Force Base and numerous schools, community projects, sports teams and religious groups. In 2014, Home Creations received The Journal Record’s “Beacon Awards” in the philanthropic impact categories. “The American Dream” means something different for each person, but for Jalal and Mohammad, their success isn’t their own. It’s about caring for each other, using the resources you have to serve others, and instilling a passion of service to those you live with and work around.
Co-chairs of the Leadership Oklahoma Excellence in Leadership Gala are Susan and G.T. Bynum of Tulsa and Jodi and David Lewis of Edmond. For ticket information or sponsorship opportunities, go to or call 405.848.0001.

Leadership Oklahoma is a statewide organization with 1,578 graduates from 181 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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