The professionals honored in Oklahoma Magazine’s 40 Under 40 Class of 2019 exemplify leadership, both at the office and in the community. These are Oklahoma’s mavericks – innovators who go the extra mile, disrupt the status quo, push to improve the state and guide others by unwavering and fierce example. These leaders run the gambit of professions – from an entrepreneur, nurse and professor to doctors, lawyers and company presidents. The future looks bright for Oklahoma – and it’s thanks in part to these game-changers. We celebrate them here.
40 Under 40 honorees are unranked and presented in no particular order.
40ALEXIS SMITH WASHINGTON
Assistant professor of management,
Spears School of Business, Oklahoma State University
Alexis Smith Washington wears many hats – she is an undergraduate professor of diversity and inclusion and human resource management; she is a researcher with academic peers; and she is a collaborator with her colleagues at OSU. Although she interacts with a wide array of people, one group sticks out. “I hold a special place in my heart for the undergraduates, who are at a pivotal point in their lives,” she says. “Along with our wonderful staff, we professors are entrusted with helping them to develop the tools they’ll need as they transition to adulthood. I love watching their journey.” Outside the classroom, Washington dedicates more energy to this group by “giving time on evenings and weekends to attend student events, mentor student groups and give back to the kinds of student organizations that shaped my life.” Washington, who earned tenure last year, loves to spend off-the-clock time with her children. “I find that developing them into fully formed adults is my most pleasurable activity,” she says.
Project executive, Nabholz Construction Corp.
Michael Feamster ensures the success of his Nabholz projects by providing support to his teams, interacting with clients and engaging in the communities where the company builds. “I love establishing longtime, meaningful relationships,” he says. “Heavy commercial construction provides the opportunity to solve problems and create cohesive, winning cultures. Partnership in vision and execution – construction is awesome.” If he weren’t a project executive, his interests would vary; he says he would be involved with international law or “a coffee roaster or fighter,” as he is well-versed in mixed martial arts. Volunteering, which Feamster calls “humbling and encouraging,” is an important part of his life; he spends time at his church, Habitat for Humanity and the The Prince’s Trust, among others. Feamster speaks Spanish fluently and has lived in Spain and the United Kingdom. He is married with three kids, with a fourth due this year. He looks forward to Tulsa’s developments, including the USA BMX headquarters and the Oklahoma Pop Culture Museum, both of which he’s involved with through Nabholz.
38Katy Tipton Battiest
Information technology applications supervisor, ONE Gas
Katy Tipton Battiest manages a team of business analysts and developers overseeing a variety of IT applications. Her goal is to “provide the highest value possible to our customers,” she says. Her interest in technology stems from her grandfather, an aeronautical engineer whom Battiest describes as “a tinkerer who could fix anything.” She finds success in being “willing to do what others are not and going the extra step than what is expected.” Her passion for tech stretches beyond the office as she was named the president of Oklahoma Women in Technology; she calls the appointment “a true honor to be able to guide the vision of an organization that is truly making a difference in our state and in the tech industry.” She also spends time volunteering for Route 66 Pet Rescue, Habitat for Humanity and the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma, checking out local theater productions, and being outdoors with her husband and dogs. Never an idler, Battiest fosters hobbies at home with a die-cutting machine and “learning computerized design so that I can expand my skills and have the ability to create more, from logos to websites and more.”
Otolaryngologist, Eastern Oklahoma ENT
Jeremy Foon’s job as an otolaryngologist, which he describes as “a fancy way of saying I’m an ear, nose, throat doctor,” keeps him busy between the clinic and operating rooms at Eastern Oklahoma ENT. From ear infections to cancer resections, Foon loves the job because of the “immediate impact I can have on people’s lives.” In medical school, Foon knew he wanted to be a surgeon, but still aimed for a well-rounded life. “I didn’t want to be married to the hospital and spend all my time there,” he says. “ENT provides a great middle ground. I get to take care of patients but still be home for dinner most nights with my wife and our three children.” Outside work, Foon likes biking, woodwork, exploring Tulsa with his family and volunteering at soup kitchens, mission trips, urban farms and his church. He believes that “being both thoughtful and deliberate when it comes to major life decisions” is the key to his success, and if he weren’t a surgeon, he’d be a mailman. “They are extremely organized, make people happy by delivering mail and can wear shorts to work.”
Chief operating officer, MCN Medical Center and Physical Rehabilitation Center – Muscogee (Creek) Nation Department of Health
Timothy Hicks manages two health-care facilities for the Muscogee (Creek) Nation; designs and implements business strategies; sets comprehensive goals for growth; assists the tribe’s secretary of health; manages relationships with vendors; and establishes policies that promote the tribe’s culture and vision. “I love working for the community that I was born and raised in,” he says. “It makes me proud to know that our hospital is increasing the quality of life within our community and providing top-notch health care to our citizens.” It’s been a good year for Hicks; he received his Master of Business Administration and helped to lower emergency room wait times at the facilities he manages by 54.8 percent. Hicks says not checking off everything in his daily planner often keeps him up at night, but golf is a great stress reliever. “It also allows me to keep my competitive passion – I hate to lose,” he says. Hicks volunteers at the Glenpool Chamber of Commerce and sits on the health advisory boards for Northeastern State University and the Central Technology Center. He and his wife are also avid Criminal Minds fans. “You could say we’re both qualified to be detectives at this point,” he says.
Vice president of financial development, Vizavance
Brandon Miller works in the financial wing of Vizavance, a nonprofit whose focus lies on advancing children’s education through better eyesight and vision. Miller makes those goals a reality through fundraisers, writing grants and building relationships with donors and foundations. “I love that at my job, a day never repeats itself,” he says. “It is constantly evolving and very socially based. I am a people person and I thrive on interaction with others.” After college, Miller spent more than eight years in health-care marketing and sales before landing in the nonprofit sector, where he feels he’s making a difference in society. “Knowing that the work I do allows us to impact over 325,000 children in our state every year makes all of the hard work worth it,” he says. Tulsa CARES and Tulsa Day Center for the Homeless are two of various nonprofits Miller supports in his free time; he also plays in a kickball league, enjoys photography and spends time at Grand Lake.
Hand surgeon, Advanced Orthopedics of Oklahoma
Putting people’s lives back together is the name of the game for Carolyn Berg, a hand and upper extremity surgeon with Advanced Orthopedics of Oklahoma. Her favorite part of the job is the surgery. “I get to take injured or degenerative structures and guide the body’s amazing capacity to heal,” she says. Healing is the highlight of the gig; Berg enjoys “helping [to] restore hands and bring back function and livelihood to a person’s life.” Berg is an avid road, gravel and mountain biker and has channeled that passion into volunteering. “I most recently helped rebuild some of the local hiking/biking trails in our community,” she says. Along with that, Berg spends time as a medical missionary and a volunteer at various women’s shelters around town. She also loves travel, the outdoors, photography and the magical world of a certain boy wizard. “I’m a huge Harry Potter fan,” she says. “My surgical scrub hat is Harry Potter-themed.”
Principal and interior designer, KKT Architects
Liz Rohrbacker is passionate about education, and her role at KKT Architects allows her to foster that devotion by designing and renovating schools around Oklahoma. Along with working closely to ensure the client’s vision, Rohrbacker must consider the physical, mental and emotional needs of everyone who uses the space. “Most people think interior designers only pick the paint and decorate, but we are responsible for code compliance regarding life safety, ensuring that the space is accessible and inclusive and creating beautiful, functional, durable, effective environments,” she says. Rohrbacker loves KTT’s environment because it allows people to follow their passions, leading to goals being met. “My greatest achievement at KKT is helping build up our education department,” Rohrbacker says. Off the clock, Rohrbacker gets inspiration from her children. “They are the most creative and imaginative people I know,” she says. “It is fascinating to watch them tear off on a mission to save one of their stuffed animals from monsters, or create a brand new game, or just break out in a spontaneous dance party/karaoke session.”
Managing director – Hispanic banking division, Regent Bank
For James Sanchez, his job means “helping Tulsa’s thriving Hispanic business community learn how to get the cash they need to expand, buy equipment or purchase commercial real estate.” With all communication in Spanish, Sanchez helps with every part of banking – from earning the best interest on deposits to procuring major loans. “I love that my job allows me to serve my clients,” Sanchez says. “I love being in a work environment where everyone charges the same vision – it makes you feel like you’re surrounded by family.” Sanchez doesn’t just help the community on the clock; after work, he volunteers for the Tulsa Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the Minority Business Council and the Hispanic Young Professionals and Entrepreneurs of Oklahoma, among others. Sanchez says his success comes from balancing work and life and the support of his wife and three sons, with whom he enjoys playing Fortnite or “anything that involves me being with them.” He also boasts a musical talent involving an odd instrument. “I have a marimba that once in a while I get to play.”
Chief operating officer/general counsel, TBS Factoring Service
TBS Factoring Service, which provides financial solutions to small businesses, is helmed in part by Hailey Benton-Thomas, who supports her team by identifying efficiencies and maintaining an employees-first focus. This respect for and willingness to help her workers makes Benton-Thomas an ideal leader. “I am privileged to spend my days brainstorming with brilliant people about new ways to improve the services we provide in support of small business,” she says. “I never planned to seek out operations as a career, but my passion is to help people reach their potential and help businesses maximize theirs, so it is a perfect fit.” Although Benton-Thomas does a lot to mold the leaders of tomorrow, she’s the first to shy away from claiming their victories as her own. “I take no credit for their success; they worked hard for it,” she says. “But I absolutely love to see them shine.” Since moving to Oklahoma five years ago, Benton-Thomas enjoys exploring the state with her family, which includes a 1-year-old son. Always one to keep busy, she volunteers at Capitol Hill High School and the Central Oklahoma Humane Society. “I am a driven, type-A personality that could quickly drive my family nuts,” she jokes, “so channeling that energy into volunteer work might also be key to the happiness of those around me as well.”
Employee services manager, Melton Truck Lines
At Melton, Marilyn Surber covers a lot of bases, from human resources and corporate communications to social media, military recruiting and leading the road-training program. A self-described extrovert, Surber says “building relationships with internal and external customers” is the best part of her job. She’s also quick to credit her many team members, and her proudest moments at work are when “someone on my team succeeds.” In her off time, Surber relaxes with her family and supports the Tulsa Area United Way, Salvation Army, Reading Partners and Tulsa Workforce. Claiming grit as the secret to her success, Surber thinks she’d win the award for being “Most Likely to Sell Ice to Eskimos.” Her favorite advice is from Dr. Seuss: “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.”
Vice president of energy banking, Bank of Oklahoma
John Krenger knew he enjoyed financial analysis at a young age – and the passion stuck. “My favorite class in high school was economics, so I knew I wanted to pursue an economics or finance degree in college,” he says. At Bank of Oklahoma, Krenger spends his time “selling financial products to upstream and midstream energy companies headquartered in Oklahoma,” and splits the day between financial analysis and communicating with his clients – a happy medium. Although Krenger has found meteoric success at work, his family comes first; he says his best experience this past year was “finding out that we’re expecting our second baby girl” with his wife. Krenger enjoys football, time spent with family, walking his two huskies and volunteering with Allied Arts, the Wes Welker Foundation and the United Way of Central Oklahoma. Krenger says the volunteer opportunity that stuck with him the most was coaching the Bishop McGuinness junior high football team. “It taught me great lessons on how to be a leader that is motivating, understanding and fair,” he says.
28Mary Elizabeth Mach
Water team leader, Garver
Mary Elizabeth Mach’s passion in life is water, and she fosters it every day as the water team leader at Garver, an engineering, planning, architectural and environmental services firm. Her role consists of teaming with community partners to “identify and solve their water and wastewater challenges with the ultimate goal of protecting our most precious natural resource – clean, safe water.” She relishes that her work positively impacts the lives of individuals she works with and the need to work as a team to change the world for the better. Mach knows the heavy weight placed on her shoulders, and feels proud when her clients put their trust in her. “Communities dedicate a lot of resources to improving and maintaining their water supplies, and it’s a huge responsibility,” she says. Mach volunteers her time with Food and Shelter, the Oklahoma State University biosystems advisory board and Suit Up. She’s an avid half-marathon runner and cook. Her proudest accomplishment is a successful work-life balance. “Like many other professions, it can sometimes be tough to intertwine success with a quality home life,” she says. “I think I’m most proud of an ability to be a good mom, while also advancing in a STEM field that still lacks female leaders.”
As a business owner, father of three, author and entrepreneur, Bryan Smith wears a number of hats. “Leading my three kids is my No. 1 job and my favorite,” he says. Smith is also a State Farm insurance agent, and when he’s not doing that, you can find him “trying to get my message out that people will always try to tell you what you are or aren’t capable of based upon their own talents, abilities and vision.” Smith gives a lot of credit to the teams at his companies for his success and says “getting to help them build, influence and work to help them reach their goals is much more fulfilling than anything I could ever do alone.” Smith spends his time helping Tulsa nonprofits, including Tulsa Pop Kids, Soldier’s Wish and Little Lighthouse. “I don’t think anything has affected my life more than serving other people,” he says. “When I began, I wanted to see if I could make a difference in someone’s day, but it ended up making a difference in my life.” Although he’s a multi-tasker, he still has an unrealized goal. “I have always dreamed of being a singer/songwriter,” he says. “Watching Bradley Cooper kill it in A Star is Born reinvigorated this dream.”
Attorney, Crowe & Dunlevy; cybersecurity policy fellow, New America
Anthony Hendricks knows exactly how to help his clients with a wide array of issues, whether they’re cybersecurity, criminal, banking regulatory, internal investigation or environmental compliance. A lifelong problem-solver, Hendricks enjoys helping people fix their looming legal issues. “When people call lawyers, they are often nervous and stressed,” he says. “It brings me a lot of joy to be able to help ease that burden.” The bug for law came early – in elementary school – when Hendricks read a book about Thurgood Marshall. “Since that day,” he says, “I knew I was going to be a lawyer.” Over his career, Hendricks has enjoyed many highlights, but his first pro bono case sticks out as a favorite. “I helped a formerly homeless naval veteran deal with a family law case,” he says. “It was not a big case, but to see how thankful she was after we finished the case … showed me how the law could help improve people’s lives.” Outside work, Hendricks is passionate about helping people with the Health Alliance for the Uninsured.
Construction superintendent, Manhattan Construction Co.
As a senior superintendent at Manhattan Construction, Jason Schafer manages the construction of projects around Oklahoma from start to finish. Between scheduling contractors, coordinating schedules and updating clients, Schafer is busy from dawn to dusk. His favorite part of the job, he says, is “being outside and helping manage people who are working on the project. Because it is face to face, you naturally become more personable with employees, clients and vendors.” He loves grand openings and “seeing the look on everyone’s face when they walk into a new building for the first time.” Outside work, Schafer spends a lot of time volunteering, especially with the Ronald McDonald House, which helped Schafer and his daughter after she was born with a congenital heart disorder. “They are an amazing organization,” says Schafer, adding that the best part of the last year was his daughter’s positive heart exam.
Assurance principal, HoganTaylor
Brittney Wycoff loves to learn anything new, and her job at HoganTaylor keeps her on her toes. “I love that no two days are the same,” she says. “And I love that I get to spend my days with amazing clients and colleagues.” From audits to other attestation services for companies and organizations, Wycoff is continually intrigued by her job. “Whether it’s learning how to implement a new accounting standard, learning about a new client or industry, learning new technology, I’m constantly learning,” she says. With all that acquisition of knowledge, days can get stressful, but Wycoff has the remedy. “For me, a trip to Office Depot or the office supply section of Target is the perfect way to relieve stress,” she says. “Somehow, a new pen, pencil, folder or pad of paper completely relaxes me. Is that normal? I might be a little obsessed with office supplies.” Wycoff serves as board president-elect and treasurer for Parent Promise, which helps to prevent the neglect and abuse of Oklahoma’s children through parent education and support. She also volunteers through her church. “I’m just fortunate to be able to play a small part,” she says. If she’s not volunteering, working or on the hunt for office supplies, Wycoff binge-watches reality television. “Big Brother is my favorite. I’ve watched every season but one,” she says.
Executive officer – patient resources, Chickasaw Nation Department of Health
Alicson Scott is the patient’s advocate for the Chickasaw Nation Department of Health. She coordinates events, tours and celebrations for the tribe; oversees the operations of Chikasha House; and manages hospitality services and customer relations at the Chickasaw Nation Medical Center, among other duties. Her favorite part of the job is “seeing the mission of the Chickasaw Nation – to enhance the overall quality of life of the Chickasaw people – being met every day. Working in my role, I am able to see how the Chickasaw Nation Department of Health meets the mission. It is what drives the Chickasaw Nation. It is our standard, and I get to see how our employees do that every day.” A proud Chickasaw, Scott loves her culture’s core values – so much so that she has worked for the Nation for nearly 20 years. “Seeing the growth from when I began to now has been amazing,” she says. Scott leads with empathy and finds that being flexible and consistently fair with people leads to a successful environment for everyone. Outside work, Scott works as the children’s minister at her church. “The kids who attend … are very loving, and seeing them grow in their relationship with God is very rewarding.” Scott is a mother, an avid OKC Thunder fan and a gardener.
Total Rewards programs senior manager, T.D. Williamson
Steve Pearson works to improve T.D. Williamson by designing and managing the Total Rewards programs of the future, while also leading a team of experts in benefits, human resource management system and compensation. “I love that what I do directly impacts our employees and the experience they have at work every day,” Pearson says. “What I love even more is I have leadership that allows us to dream big. My goal is to not just impact TDW, but to be a part of the team that trailblazes how Total Rewards and the entire employee experience should be approached within organizations across the world.” Pearson is proud of the environment that he and others have cultivated at TDW, which relies heavily on “knowing I have that trust of my leadership, both from a creative and analytical perspective, when designing programs.” An advocate for not taking yourself too seriously, Pearson can’t imagine a specific profession he’d have outside TDW. “I just want to be a cultivator that has fun at work – the profession itself is less important,” he says. “No doubt it would be something nerdy and dorky with other people that like to laugh at themselves and have fun.” Outside the job, Pearson, who describes himself as “freakishly tall,” enjoys sports like basketball and tennis, along with spending time with his family and “trying to convince my boys that their dad is hilarious.”
Director of human resources, Cowen Construction
Lee Timmons works every day to make sure the employees at Cowen Construction feel seen, heard and appreciated. From recruiting and training to ensuring the company keeps in line with employment regulations and handling benefits packages, Timmons does it all but is quick to point out that it’s a team effort. “Together, we get to improve how our employees experience their careers with Cowen, and in turn, how others experience Cowen through our team members.” Timmons is passionate about helping people reach their full potentials, and to reach that objective, she’s implementing a new professional development program at Cowen. “We are working with our team members to help them develop their skills to achieve their goals,” she says. “We are not just aiding the development of their professional skills, but also the involvement in our industry and community.” Timmons is a family-centric person and enjoys the creativity her husband and children instill in her life. “I feel this only encourages my desire to think outside the box, develop new ideas and create processes to help our team,” she says. She spends her free time volunteering with Bixby Public Schools, Bridge the Gap and Global Gardens.
20Kyle L. Endicott
Attorney, Echols & Associates
Whether it’s custody disputes, adoption, divorce or other juvenile matters, Kyle L. Endicott acts as an advocate for his clients and children caught in the middle. “I love to figure out the puzzle of a case and how I can advocate for the best result for my client,” he says. “It’s also very rewarding when you see families come together in something like an adoption. The law is a fascinating field of study and intellectually challenging, and I firmly believe that everyone deserves the right to have at least one person by their side in a legal dispute.” Outside the office, Endicott is passionate about advocating for children “marginalized or caught in the crossfire of domestic situations.” He spends time at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Oklahoma, the Muscular Dystrophy Association and his church. His favorite stress relievers include outdoor sports (such as mountain climbing and snow skiing), building furniture, cooking and spending time with his children. “I’m always looking forward to seeing my kids at the end of the day,” he says. “They’re still young enough to greet me at the door each day I get home.” Endicott believes he’s the most likely person in a situation to remain calm and the best advice he can give is to “stop caring what everyone thinks of you.” The best advice he has received is a bit different – “Marry a woman smarter than yourself,” he says.
Oncologist, Cancer Treatment Centers of America
Issam Alawin tackles cancer head-on each day as a medical oncologist for Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Tulsa. His working hours are filled with taking care of adult patients, creating treatment plans and implementing them. Although his career can be taxing, Alawin finds the light in life. “The thing I love the most is when I am able to give a cancer patient good news,” he says. “I love to see the tears of happiness, or the smile of joy, the excitement when the patient’s hair starts growing back after it fell out in chemotherapy. I love to see the hope in their eyes while fighting this disease.” Alawin believes “being a good listener” helps him immensely in medicine, in cancer treatment specifically. A native of Jordan, Alawin moved to the United States in 2010 to join the graduate medical education program at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. He, his wife and their two daughters moved to Tulsa in May so he could join CTCA. When asked what Alawin is looking forward to, the answer is simple: “A cancer cure.”
18Claire Elizabeth Gish
Registered dietitian and manager of nutrition therapy, Laureate Eating Disorder Program, Saint Francis Health System
Mixing science, food and relationships, Claire Gish manages the nutrition department at the Laureate Eating Disorder Program. Along with overseeing dietitians and culinary staff, Gish works with a full caseload of patients. “I assist them in achieving medical stabilization, as well as challenging their maladaptive behaviors around food, negative food beliefs and rules, cooking and grocery shopping skills, and body image concerns,” she says. She also lectures frequently on nutritional rehabilitation. Gish enjoys being part of her patients’ physical and mental healing processes. “Food plays such an intricate role in relationship and community, so through the treatment process, these individuals literally are learning to taste life again,” she says. “It is such a blessing to witness an oftentimes lost, scared and hopeless individual come to life again through nutrition.” Gish serves on the board of the Oklahoma Eating Disorder Association and believes “balance and self-care” are the keys to a successful life and career. A Dallas native and Tulsa enthusiast, Gish loves spending time “trying new restaurants, coffee shops and exploring new attractions in Tulsa” with her husband.
Business development representative, Tinker Federal Credit Union
Rachel Henderson has a full plate – from assisting Tinker Federal Credit Union’s clients in realizing their financial goals to increasing community awareness of the credit union and providing top-notch service to her team and customers. Henderson loves Tinker Federal’s focus on improving the community and the variety of situations she encounters. “One day I might be in back-to-back meetings with community partners, finding ways that I can support their team, and the next day I might be walking in a parade handing out candy, or presenting a sponsorship check at a local basketball game,” she says. Outside work, Henderson enjoys sporting clays, volunteering with Pets and People Humane Society in Yukon and spending time with her mother, who was diagnosed with lung cancer last year. “She has been living with me full time since she was diagnosed,” Henderson says. “I think my greatest achievement at work would be my ability to balance caring for her full time while still successfully doing my job.” Henderson finds success in her ability to laugh at herself. “I think sometimes, when we take ourselves too seriously, we can lose sight of the big picture and all the progress that has been made,” she says.
Public relations unit manager, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma
In her role with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma, Lauren Cusick works with senior leadership; creates and implements communication strategies and ad campaigns; manages media relations, social media and a team of employees; and acts as an expert for tribal/Native American-specific content. “It keeps me on my toes and makes things interesting,” she says. “I get to work on a lot of different projects and that keeps me motivated and engaged.” Apart from the dynamic tempo of her job, she loves working for a company that “consistently focuses on our members and keeps them at the forefront of our work.” As a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, Cusick enjoys giving back to tribal youth by volunteering at camps at the Indian Health Care Resource Center of Tulsa and serving on its Native American Community Committee. “I want to be … a positive voice of encouragement that pushes them to achieve their goals and dreams,” she says. She also spends time with Youth Services of Tulsa and serves on the editorial board of the Cherokee Phoenix. Cusick is a fan of sports and a “proud soccer/basketball/baseball mom,” she says. “I am a huge University of Oklahoma fan and enjoy singing ‘Boomer Sooner’ at any/all sporting events I can attend.”
Chief nursing officer, Norman Regional Health System
Brittni McGill oversees and guides all parts of clinical care as the chief nursing officer at the Norman Regional Health System. She enjoys the fast-paced nature of the work and handling new scenarios each day. “The profession of nursing gives the ability to visually see the difference you’re making,” she says. McGill spreads her passion for positively impacting others by volunteering with the American College of Healthcare Executive Board, the Virtue Center Board and the American Heart Association. Highly organized and an advocate for perseverance, McGill says if she weren’t in her present job, she’d be an event planner. In her off time, McGill enjoys spending time with friends and family, and says if she won a superlative award, it would be “Most Likely to Decorate for Every Holiday.”
Information technology director – architecture, Matrix Service Co.
Julius Hughes develops and executes an enterprise-wide IT application and infrastructure architecture strategy. “My role is to act as a trusted adviser, building and maintaining relationships with our business leaders to develop a clear understanding of their business needs, then setting a clear vision while motivating employees through the execution process,” he says. He loves collaborating with colleagues across the company and “the ever-changing dynamic of technology,” he says. “There’s an excitement and sense of accomplishment to be able to contribute in driving technological innovation.” Hughes believes a singular phrase drives his work ethic: “There has to be a better way.” He says, “Technology was a great outlet for me to apply this way of thinking, given that technology is all about making humans faster, smarter, safer, and ultimately enabling us to do things better than they would be able to do otherwise.” Outside Matrix Service Co., Hughes is passionate about philanthropy. Along with Night Light Tulsa, 501Tech and the Tulsa Area United Way, Hughes dedicates time to the Tulsa Boys’ Home. “I found myself being changed by the stories of struggles and triumphs by these young men,” he says. His other interests include spending time with family, restoring his 1986 Chevrolet SS Monte Carlo and hiking – he and his wife climbed Mount Liamuiga on St. Kitts.
Executive assistant to the CEO and executive vice president, Cherokee Nation Businesses
A self-described gatekeeper, Amber Edwards is the right-hand woman to the highest-ranking personnel at Cherokee Nation Businesses. She serves as the primary point of contact for internal and external contacts on all matters affecting the CEO and acts as the liaison for the board of directors, tribal council and Cherokee Nation administration. “I like the versatility of my position and our company,” she says. “Cherokee Nation Businesses covers areas … such as federal contracting, engineering and manufacturing, technology, construction services, management and consulting and, of course, our entertainment and gaming businesses.” She is proud in “knowing the impact that our company has on the citizens of Cherokee Nation and the state of Oklahoma through our economic impact.” After receiving a collegiate scholarship from the Cherokee Nation, helping her graduate debt free, Edwards “wanted to, in a way, pay them back for the assistance I received. Becoming an executive assistant was a natural career choice for me – I love being part of something bigger than myself but I don’t particularly enjoy the spotlight.” A mother of three, Edwards enjoys OKC Thunder games, volunteering at her church and managing youth soccer teams.
President, Freestyle Creative
Freestyle Creative, a full-service marketing agency, helps clients with strategy, advertising, web development, video production, public relations, branding and graphic design … and Kelley Gann oversees all of it. What started as a CEO and president in 2014 has grown to a team of 12 and morphed from a company producing independent films to a full-service agency. “I was drawn to my profession because I’m a strong balance of both right brain and left brain,” Gann says. “This industry values my strengths on both the analytical and creative sides.” There’s a lot to love about her job, but Gann says her primary motivations are “my amazing team, my clients and seeing the community that I love grow and thrive. I get to lead a fantastic team that continually strives to make a positive impact in the community through our work.” Her passion for advertising shines outside the job as she serves as the president of the American Advertising Federation of Oklahoma City. She spends time volunteering with the Oklahoma City Cancer Society and, as a member of the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, loves to act.
11Robert J. Wittrock
Pediatrician, St. John Clinic
Robert J. Wittrock works every day with families to help children grow into healthy adults. His favorite part of the job is easy to declare. “I get to play with kids all day,” he says. “Seriously though, it’s fun to be able to help children and their families. When they are sick, I will recommend treatments to help them get better. During well visits, I get to watch them grow and develop while giving advice and answering any questions that may come up.” An avid science enthusiast and reader, Wittrock says he’d be a professional student if not a doctor. “I would want to learn everything,” he says. Outside work, Wittrock keeps busy, most often at KOTV Channel 6, where he has a pediatrics segment “to promote health and awareness for medical issues relating to children.” He and his wife enjoy playing racquetball (“terribly,” he adds), exploring Tulsa’s culinary and musical scene, and playing Dungeons and Dragons with friends. “Don’t knock it till you try it; it’s really fun,” he says. Often ribbed for his youthful appearance, Wittrock says he would win the superlative award for “Most Likely to Trick Someone Into Thinking I’m in the 20 Under 20 Group rather than 40 Under 40.”
Manager of brand marketing, Oklahoma City Thunder
Erin Lewis calls what she does “wonderfully complicated” with roles ranging from “architect to matchmaker to data geek to storyteller. Being a brand strategist allows me to use a diverse form of research, resources and strategies to uncover the truths about brands and products and their relationship to people’s lives.” Although she’s worked in marketing for several years, she finds that the Thunder is “unexplainably special – a brand that connects with people in such a deep and meaningful way.” After working with the Thunder for 2½ years, Lewis is proud of this season’s launch of the team’s new uniform and community programming, both of which pay tribute to Oklahoma’s Native Americans. Programming includes Thunder youth basketball clinics with tribes across the state and coding classes with elementary students identified through Oklahoma City Public Schools’ Native American student services. Apart from her job, Lewis is passionate about mentoring youth. “I have mentored the same young woman since she was in the fourth grade. She’s now a sophomore in college,” Lewis says. “She’s quick to tell you the impact I’ve made on her life, but it’s been just as impactful for me.”
Senior director of gaming marketing and analytics, Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma Division of Commerce
Anthony Cavallo oversees the database marketing team and the market analytics team at the Choctaw Nation, along with coordinating with other regional marketing directors pertaining to gaming marketing and analytics. “My favorite part of the job is problem-solving and the continuous improvement process,” he says. “We gather and analyze a large amount of data. I enjoy analyzing that information and utilizing it to implement strategies to improve our overall performance.” Although he planned to go into retail, his father helped to change his trajectory in college after getting him a job at a casino. “My career took off from there,” he says. “I view the casino industry as extremely interesting because we operate several businesses in one – gaming operations, retail operations, food and beverage venues, marketing firms.” Cavallo gives credit to his team and mentors who came before him, and works to pay it forward by “developing an environment where team members can grow and build upon their skills and their contribution to the overall operation.”
Chief executive officer, Oklahoma State University Medicine
Rhett Stover serves as the chief operating officer at OSU Medicine, a clinically integrated network providing health-care services to patients across metropolitan Tulsa, northeast Oklahoma and beyond. When it comes to leadership, Stover finds success by taking on a servant’s role. “I believe that if you want to lead well, you must serve well,” he says. “The physicians, nurses and staff that comprise OSU Medicine work tirelessly for the greatest good of our patients.” Although he planned a career in optometry, Stover got some advice from his father that he took to heart. “He didn’t think I’d survive organic chemistry and calculus,” Stover says. “Not that he didn’t believe I could do it – more that he knew the gifts and talents I had could be used in other ways within the health-care field.” Stover and his wife volunteer for Project Hope Worldwide, Arubah Community Clinic and the American Cancer Society. He enjoys exploring Oklahoma lakes, the Chicago Cubs, writing and taking his kids to their various athletic activities, which he calls “Uber Sports, the non-profit version.”
Physician, The Orthopaedic Center
Chad Hanson, a surgeon focusing on musculoskeletal ailments, works with patients from consultations and planned or emergency surgery to physical therapy and injections. “I perform anything from arthroscopic hip surgery to robotic knee surgery,” he says. “After surgery, we continue to monitor the patient and help them achieve their desired goals.” His favorite part of the job is taking away a person’s pain and increasing quality of life. “It can really change someone as a person to no longer have to live with daily pain,” he says. Outside surgery, Hanson teaches residents at Oklahoma State University, with a focus on orthopedic surgery and sports medicine. Sports play a major role in Hanson’s life, as well; he volunteers with Bristow High School’s football team, the Tulsa Oilers and Saint Francis Tulsa Tough. He plays in a basketball league, lifts weights and plays fantasy football. (“Two time league champion,” he adds.) He also enjoys barbecuing. “My ribs and brisket are on point, but the chicken still needs a little work,” he says. “The worst part about this hobby is the extra 20 pounds it’s given me.”
Attorney, McIntyre Law
As a personal injury trial attorney, Jordan Klingler represents individuals who have been harmed or wronged by others’ negligence. From working on claims to litigation and even trials, Klingler works hard to advocate for her clients and get them what they deserve. “Since my clients are often at their lowest point due to injuries that often result in financial uncertainty, it is very rewarding to be able to work for them to get them fair compensation,” she says. “At the close of a case, there is nothing better than seeing the relief my client has and the smiles knowing that they can move forward. Growing and learning as a lawyer has and does bring me great personal satisfaction.” Klingler takes her legal expertise outside the courtroom by volunteering with Lawyers Fighting Hunger and writing a legal column about pets (and donating her fee to local shelters). She also spends time with the Regional Food Bank and OK Foster Wishes. The last year has been a milestone for Klingler, who became a partner at McIntyre Law. Outside work, she participates in OrangeTheory and Cycle Bar and loves spending time with friends and family.
Vice president – international business, Cherokee Nation Businesses
Tim Roberts is all about taking commerce global as he heads up the Cherokee Nation Businesses’ strategic initiative to expand its federal contracting practice overseas by managing 150 professionals working in more than 25 countries. “My job is to lead our team as we continue to prove to our federal government customers that we can execute projects and programs at a high level, anywhere in the world,” he says. Roberts says the Cherokee Nation’s determination and work ethic are unmatched. “The federal government now comes to the Cherokee with some of their toughest problems because they know we will take them on as our own and find a solution,” he says. “We adapt, overcome and refuse to fail.” From putting the Nation’s talent on display around the world to positively impacting the U.S. economy, Roberts says he has a “dream job.” In his free time, Roberts volunteers with the Tulsa Humane Society and the Research Institute for Compassionate Economics, which produces “critical research that will drive better outcomes for impoverished families throughout rural India.” Roberts enjoys the outdoors, spending time with his family and hanging out at Tulsa’s ever-growing list of breweries. “There’s never been a better time to live in Tulsa, and I feel like there’s plenty to do around town,” he says.
Senior strategy adviser to the president, Tulsa Community College
Lindsay White oversees the administrative operations in the president’s office at TCC, provides vision and oversight for various parts of the college and its boards, and serves as the chair of TCC’s institutional effectiveness council and integrated planning committee. “I love being surrounded by people who believe in our purpose,” she says. “I also love organizational behavior and I enjoy applying academic theory to real-life situations to solve complex problems.” Before joining TCC, White had defining experiences as a Peace Corps volunteer. “It really solidified my understanding of how factors beyond one’s control can dictate life circumstances,” she says. “One of the brightest people I have every known lived in a dwelling with a dirt floor and no running water.” White has lived and worked on four continents, with visits to Antarctica and North Korea. Never a fan of idleness, White spends her free time running, working on a doctorate, spending time with her kids and cooking. “In general, I love Asian food and flavors,” she says. “Honestly, I am much better at cooking foods from other countries than America.”
Senior director of marketing, Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Tulsa
As the overseer of marketing and entertainment at Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Tulsa, Martin Madewell doesn’t shy away from the challenge. “In a hyper-competitive gaming and entertainment market, we must find ways to hold and gain market share,” he says. “This means [we must] be creative, think differently, take risks and differentiate our product.” As a long-time lover of music, Madewell appreciates his job’s perks. “I get to market one of the most recognizable music brands in the world,” he says. “Hard Rock is all things music. Our mission is to create authentic experiences that rock – delivering those experiences is fun.” Madewell’s interest in the hospitality industry started young as he traveled frequently with his family, and the enthusiasm bloomed when he became a blackjack dealer in college. Now, he finds it rewarding to help others get their feet in the door. “I’ve had the opportunity to help develop and groom leaders in our organization,” he says. “In some cases, these individuals may not have seen their full potential. Seeing them be promoted and better themselves professionally and personally makes me proud.” Madewell volunteers at Read Across America and enjoys spending time with his wife and children. The best advice Madewell ever received, which he calls a lesson in humility, is that “the smartest guy in the room won’t have to tell everyone that he is.”
Executive vice president and chief physician executive, INTEGRIS Health
Tommy Ibrahim, M.D., leads the INTEGRIS physician and medical staff. He makes the major decisions regarding the strategic direction for clinical services throughout the health system, including clinical excellence, quality and patient safety objectives. “I love the magnified impact a group of committed leaders can have on the health of the community,” he says. “I am inspired every day by the people and the physicians of INTEGRIS who bring energy and passion to our work and deep-rooted focus on the patients and families we are privileged to serve.” After a negative health-care experience as a teenager, Ibrahim decided medicine was his future. “Coming from a long line of business and engineering ancestry, the nonconformist in me opted to go in a completely different direction,” he says. Patients are at the core of Ibrahim’s passion; he says that when patients reach out to thank him, it “always grounds me and connects us to our purpose.” Ibrahim is a fanatic of the outdoors, where he enjoys spending time with his wife and kids. He volunteers at his church, serves on several community boards and is passionate about those affected by autism.
President and chief operating officer, Delaware Resource Group of Oklahoma
Brian Busey helms the ship at Delaware Resource Group, a global aerospace defense contractor. Along with overseeing the company, managing contracts and communicating with partners and clients, Busey works to ensure the company continues to grow. “With operations around the globe, I have a host of daily items that need attention in order to support our team members in each of our locations that are training and/or supporting our customers,” he says. Busey became involved in the global aerospace defense industry thanks to his father, who offered him a job at Delaware as a human-resources representative right out of college. “Forty-eight hours later, I was headed down I-40 East, back to Oklahoma City with all of my belongings,” he says. “I left Weatherford on a Thursday, started work the next Monday. The rest is history.” Philanthropy is a major part of Delaware; the company founded a charity called El Sistema Oklahoma, an “after-school program in the Oklahoma City public schools, where children are bused to an after-school location and learn to play instruments. The program now has over 200 children,” he says. Busey stays on-brand outside the office by collecting model airplanes. “Over 25 and counting,” he says.