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December 2014 E-News
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»In This Issue

 Message from the Chair

 Message from the CEO

 Helping Oklahoma Contest

Class XXVIII Visits OKC

Development Update

LOK Holiday Party

Upcoming Member Events

Announcements and Deadlines

Leaders on the Move

In Memory: Barbara Staggs, Class VI

Member Directory Updates

»Message from the Chair

Bruce Benbrook, LOK Chair

It has been another fantastic month for Leadership Oklahoma.  Class XXVIII had a very informative and educational session in Oklahoma City focusing on state government and energy.  The class continues to gain valuable insight into our state, and make life-long friendships.

Youth Leadership Oklahoma hosted the first YLOK Forum in Tulsa at the BOK Center.  Over 270 Tulsa area high school students were in attendance as we were able to share YLOK’s mission to instill hope, pride and responsibility in Oklahoma’s youth.  A big thank you to Lee Ann Stone and to all who assisted with this tremendous event.  I know we will have another great YLOK class.

A special thank you to Rhonda and Phil Cook for hosting our annual holiday party.  Over 200 people were in attendance as we all had the opportunity to renew friendships and see and visit with our LOK friends.  It was a wonderful evening thanks to the gracious hospitality of the Cook’s.

I was excited to present Dafna Jer-Don with Sunset Therapeutic Riding Center in Yukon a $2,500.00 check for being selected as the winner of the “Helping Oklahoma” contest.  We had many outstanding non-profits nominated for this coveted award.  A special thank you to Sandra Park for nominating Dafna for the award and Karen Wicker and the marketing committee for overseeing this valuable LOK program.

 As we come to the close of the calendar year, I want to thank each of you for your support of Leadership Oklahoma and our program and activities.  Thanks to you, we truly do “make a difference” in our great state.

Have a “Merry Christmas” and a wonderful holiday season.


Bruce Benbrook, (Class XIII)

2014-2015 LOK Chair

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»Message From the CEO

Ann Ackerman, LOK CEO Top Ten Memories from 2014

As 2014 draws to an end, so does an exciting, eventful, and sometimes sad year for Leadership Oklahoma. Here are my picks for the top ten memories from 2014:

  • At the Excellence in Leadership Gala and Awards at Oklahoma City Golf & Country Club, the Chickasaw Nation, First National Bank of Miami, Stan Clark and George Nigh were recognized for their leadership and service to Oklahoma.
  • LOK Class XXVII graduated 51 individuals who are now part of our LOK network of 1,381 statewide leaders.  The traditional Golden Bull Award was given to Lance McDaniel from Oklahoma City.
  • Youth LOK graduated 52 high school students from across the state in June.  Then in July, the second Youth Summit for all YLOK graduates was held.  Last month, Tulsa was the site of the first Youth Leadership Forum for high school students from the greater metro area.
  •  Several membership activities were planned in various locations across the state:
  • Human Trafficking:  Combat Through Prevention in Sand Springs
  • "Hey Altus….Wat-er You Doing With Water?" in Altus
  • Teamwork On and Off the Court - A “Peake” inside the Thunder Upper Management in Oklahoma City
  • Lights, Camera, Action! The “Reel” Scoop on the Oklahoma Film Industry in Stillwater

  • LOK sponsored "Everyone Leads:  Building Leadership from the Community Up" with Paul Schmitz, CEO of Public Allies, as part of the Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits National Speaker Series.
  • Ice and snow prevented the annual holiday party from happening in late 2013, but it also gave us a reason to party in the summer of 2014. Dewey and Victoria Bartlett hosted the LOK Lawn Party in their Tulsa home for LOK members and their guests in June.
  • An outstanding Fall Forum, "2014 Election Uncovered: An In-depth 'LOoK' 2014", which focused on the election process, the primary election races, the influence of PAC’s, and more, was held in October. Members also had the opportunity to hear from candidates of three of the major races. Sam Combs, Class VII, was honored with the Distinguished Leadership Award for service to LOK at the dinner that followed the forum.  Chair Mark Williams, Class XXV, along with the planning committee, offered another successful event for LOK’s membership.
  • LOK co-hosted the Association of Leadership Programs Regional Conference in Oklahoma City in November. Representatives from community leadership programs from Kansas, Texas, Nebraska, Missouri, Iowa and Indiana, as well as Oklahoma, participated in the conference.
  • Leadership Oklahoma hosted its fourth annual Helping Oklahoma Contest which recognizes exceptional Oklahoma volunteers from across the state for their service to non-profit organizations.  This year’s winner is Dafna Jer-Don, who works as a volunteer for the Sunset Therapeutic Riding Center.  Sunset received $2,500 in Dafna's name to further her work at the non-profit.
  • Sadly, four great leaders who were also LOK graduates passed away during 2014. Mickey Thompson, Liz Lewis, Liz Beaty and Barbara Staggs will be missed.

The LOK staff and I look forward working with you in 2015 to make this great state an even better place to live and work. I wish you and your family happiness and health during this Holiday Season and New Year.


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»Helping Oklahoma Contest



 Leadership Oklahoma showcases an Oklahoman helping Oklahoma

Leadership Oklahoma sponsored its fourth annual Helping Oklahoma Contest, which recognizes exceptional Oklahoma volunteers from across the state for their service to Oklahoma 501c3 non-profit organizations.  The volunteer selected receives $2,500 for the non-profit organization to further the work of the volunteer. Thanks to a social media challenge made by Karen Wicker, Marketing Committee Chair, LOK received a record number of nominations. Thank you to all who took the time to write a nomination for a deserving volunteer. This year’s winner is Dafna Jer-Don, who works as a volunteer for the Sunset Therapeutic Riding Center. Dafna was nominated by Sandra Park, LOK Class XXVII.

When Sunset Therapeutic Riding Center began five years ago, it provided therapeutic riding for three students with special needs from one school district, Yukon Public Schools. Today, Sunset serves nearly 70 students from two school districts, plus additional riders in the evenings from surrounding areas. Dafna Jer-Don’s work with the riding center is unique. She not only loves helping students with special needs in their therapeutic riding, but also works with high school students from the alternative education program. Additionally, Dafna helps care for the horses and the upkeep that is required to board the horses for the program. Sunset Therapeutic Riding Center’s program and many students’ lives have been changed because of the work Dafna lovingly performs each day.

To read more details of the volunteers nominated for this contest, go to .  Each is making a difference in their community and state through their volunteer leadership.  The Helping Oklahoma Contest is Leadership Oklahoma’s way of saying thank you to a special volunteer and non-profit organization for exceptional service and leadership in moving Oklahoma forward.

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»Class XXVIII Visits OKC

Class XXVIII was able to enhance their knowledge of major issues facing state government, gain perspective on the history and future of Oklahoma's energy industry, and explore the impact current industry issues are having on our state. See comments below from two class members about their experience.


Robin Roberts Krieger
2014-2015 Chair, Adult Program Committee   



Comments from Class XXVIII member, Monica Wilke

Executive Director
Oklahoma Farm Bureau & Affiliated Companies

As with every gathering in Leadership Oklahoma, I walked away from our State Government/Energy session with new insight regarding our state leaders as well as the energy industry.  However, my biggest take away was a renewed sense of pride in the state of Oklahoma, our leadership and the plentiful natural resources above and below our land.

The complexities, regulatory environment and many times public misinformation surrounding our state's two major industries, energy and agriculture, are very similar.  It was educational and encouraging to hear from those engaged in harvesting this natural resource called energy and the economic benefit this industry has on our state, nation and world.  When you really stop and think about the fact that Oklahoma farmers and ranchers feed and clothe the world while our energy partners fuel it, it should make us all very thankful to call ourselves Oklahomans.

Oklahoma has a bright future ahead, and I look forward to my role in that future along with my fellow LOK classmates!

Comments from Class XXVIII member, Ben Kimbro

Executive Vice-President

Tactical Electronics

Under storm clouds and sheets of rain, I departed OKC last weekend with two of my classmates.  An Oklahoma autumn thunderstorm and the stark reality that our LOK year is half over were…emotionally heavy-handed. As has become our custom on the road, we recap, discuss and debate the weekend’s events in detail.  The discussions are serious; generally world-changing topics, regularly interrupted by bouts of laughter.  In between the fits of hilarity, ideas are spun, strategies laid and plans to benefit our community are developed.  It is good stuff, genuinely.


As we drive up the turnpike, I wonder how in such a few short hours we’ve managed to examine so deeply the complexities of energy, politics, economics, regulation, education and culture.  How will what I’ve learned alter my future direction?  Will this new information obviate some old idea I’d been carrying around?  What good works can I do to positively impact my community going forward?  Around mile marker 196 the clouds broke and the sun returned, emblematic that the LOK adventure really isn’t halfway over.  Clearly, for me at least, it’s just getting started.  Of all of the programs I have been privileged to participate in, nothing has been so uniquely transformative as Class XXVIII of Leadership Oklahoma.

Check out pictures from the November Class XXVIII program in OKC.

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 »Development Update

2014 End-of-Year Sustainability Campaign

As a member of Leadership Oklahoma (LOK), I hope you appreciate the value this organization brings to the State of Oklahoma by creating a diverse and powerful network of informed leaders.  Also, I hope you know that our award-winning adult and youth class programs educate and prepare our leaders to face the critical and relevant issues impacting our state now, and into the future. 

However, you may not know that approximately 73 percent of the LOK annual budget is derived from donations and that over $500,000 must be raised each year just to sustain LOK at the current level.


LOK Is Making a Difference

In a recent survey of LOK members:

·        98 percent said that LOK had positively impacted their lives;

·        88 percent said they had become more involved as a result of LOK; and,

·        100 percent said they wanted to remain connected to the LOK network.

 In a comparison of “pre” and “post” class surveys given last year, program participants:

  1. Demonstrated significant gains in awareness of statewide issues;
  2. Increased commitment to community involvement; and
  3. Were more likely to be connected to state policy leaders.

In its 28-year history, LOK has graduated 1,381 Oklahoma leaders from its program.  Also, over 70 percent of those graduates are still active in the organization. These are extraordinary outcomes of leadership engagement that position Oklahoma for a better future, I believe you will agree!

We respectfully request you join us in supporting a stronger Leadership Oklahoma, by contributing to our annual ‘sustainability” campaign before year-end.  Join the network of leaders who are passionate about the betterment of Oklahoma.  “We are Oklahoma Leaders making Oklahoma the Leader”.  We Connect!  We Collaborate!  We Care!

Checks or credit card information for the 2014 Sustainability Campaign should be sent to Leadership Oklahoma, 5500 N. Western, Suite 142, Oklahoma City, OK 73118 before year-end, or you may donate by clicking here.  Thank you, for your support!


Samuel Combs III

Development Committee Chairman


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»LOK Holiday Party

Thank you to those of you who came to the Holiday Party!  We can’t thank Rhonda and Phil Cook enough for opening their home to the LOK membership.  They also provided festive ornaments to everyone in attendance!  It was fun to see so many classes represented and provided a great opportunity to network with each other.


Below are some photos from the evening.  To see more photos, click here.


Bob and Jean Harbison, Sandy and Jon Trudgen 


Phil Cook, Ostyn and Joe Abshere


Jim Kessler, Karen Wicker, Patti and Mark Mellow


   Class XXV




David and Rachel Wagner, John Harper

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»Upcoming Member Events

Excellence in Leadership Gala

February 28, 2015

Southern Hills Country Club, Tulsa

6:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

Dress:  Black Tie Optional

The Excellence in Leadership Gala is a wonderful opportunity for LOK to shine the light on businesses and individuals that make Oklahoma the great state that it is. 

Lifetime Achievement:

Robert Henry

Distinguished Graduate:

Ken Busby

Business Leader:

Wymer Brownlee

Statewide Community:

Oklahoma Heritage Association









If anyone would like to sponsor at the $10,000 level before the December 26, 2014 cutoff date, your name/logo will be included on the invitation.  All other sponsorships need to be sent before January 30, 2015 to be included in the program.  Click here to review sponsorship levels.  Individual tickets are $125.  Invitations will be mailed in January 2015.

The Doubletree at Warren Place has rooms available at a special rate for out-of-town guests.  To make reservations, call 918.497.2182.  The deadline for the group rate is February 7, 2015.


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»Announcements and Upcoming Events


December 26, 2014
Gala Platinum Sponsor Deadline
January 30, 2015
Gala Sponsor Deadline
February 17, 2015
Deadline for Group Rate Hotel Reservations for the Gala





Upcoming Events:

January 2015 A Meet and Greet with the State Superintendent of Instruction - Details to Come!
February 28, 2015         
Excellence in Leadership Gala, Southern Hills Country Club, Tulsa, 6:00 p.m.-9:30 p.m. 
April/May 2015
Cushing:The Pipeline Crossroads of the World - Details to Come!

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»Leaders on the Move

Bill Andoe, Class XIV, started his new job as Executive Director and CEO of the bART Center for Music.


House Speaker Jeff Hickman has appointed Gary Banz, Class XVII, to serve as majority whip.


Bud Ground, Class XXVII, opened a new company, Common Ground Consulting, LLC.


The Communities Foundation of Oklahoma names Randy K. Macon, PhD, Class XXV, as their new Executive Director.


Ann Neal, Class XXII, and Chuck Neal, Class VII, were awarded the Community Service Award and Lee Denney, Class VII, was awarded the George Nigh Public Service in the Arts Award at the 2014 Governor's Arts Awards Ceremony.


David Rainbolt, Class I, was recently installed as the 2015 Chairman of the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce.


The Oklahoma Chapter of the American Institute of Architects has presented the Lifetime Achievement Award to Fred Schmidt, Class XXI.


Susan Shields, Class XVII, was presented the Roger Scott Memorial Award by the Oklahoma Bar Association.


Public Service Company of Oklahoma named Hayley Thompson, Class XXVIII, as their Regulatory Consultant.


Gary Trennepohl, Class XIV, was honored with the Loyal and True Award at the Oklahoma State University Awards Convocation in Stillwater.


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»In Memory: Barbara Staggs, Class VI

Barbara Staggs, LOK Class VI, passed away on November 22, 2014. She received a head injury during a fall and did not recover from the injury. Barbara Staggs was a longtime educator in Muskogee and state representative from the area as well as a philanthropist throughout the region.

Barbara was a teacher in Muskogee for 15 years, where she taught English, drama, speech and broadcasting. Following that, she was an assistant principal, a principal and a superintendent.

After her retirement from education, she won the District 14 seat in the state House in 1996, defeating a longtime incumbent in the Democratic primary. In the House, she served on the Common Education Committee, among many others. During her tenure, she helped establish the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame. She was also instrumental in passing a bill that gave funding to the Oklahoma Department of Libraries to award construction grants to rural communities for local library construction. Since that time, more than 30 libraries have been refurbished or built.

Barbara served in the legislature for 12 years, until term limits forced her retirement. After that she worked tirelessly to help civic and charitable institutions in Muskogee. An interesting fact from Class VI is that three class members all became members of the Oklahoma legislature at the same time after their LOK graduation: Barbara Staggs, Jari Askins, and Fred Morgan.

Below are a few memories from Barbara’s classmates:

"Barbara was one who stepped up to a higher level of public service because of her experience in Class VI. Our class and Oklahoma has lost a special friend. Our prayers are with her family."

Herschel Beard

"Barbara was a leader among leaders."

Bob Nelon

"I taught with Barbara in Muskogee in the early '70's, then LOK, and then worked with her many years in the State Legislature. She was a champion for public education and an authority in her own rite. There are few like her today. She is mourned and will be truly missed. She made Oklahoma a better place for children." 

Charlotte Edwards

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»Member Directory Updates

The 2014-2015 LOK Annual Report and Membership Directory has been mailed to LOK lifetime members and those members who have paid their 2014-2015 membership dues. Below are the membership contact information changes from November 16 to December 15. Click here to see all the member contact updates for the 2014-2015 Directory.

If you have not received your member directory, please send us an email or call 405.848.0001. 

Bill Andoe, Class XIV

Executive Director and CEO

The bART Center for Music

907 S. Detroit Ave., Suite 910

Tulsa, OK 74120

Phone: 918-794-0330

Fax: 918-794-0333


Bud Ground, Class XXVII

Common Ground Consulting, LLC

1936 Bunting Court

Edmond, OK 73034

Cell: 405-509-1135

Randy K. Macon, PhD, Class XXV

Executive Director, Communities Foundation of Oklahoma

2932 N.W. 122nd Street, Suite D, OKC 73120

Work: 405.488.1450

Cell: 918.814.3989  |

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