40 Under 40 honorees are unranked and presented in no particular order.
All photos courtesy honorees.
1. Alyssa Rodriguez
Director of Education, Oklahoma Aquarium
As the youngest member of the 40 Under 40 Class of 2021, it may come as no shock that 24-year-old Alyssa Rodriguez has gone viral on TikTok – more than once – for the educational (and often hilarious) content she posts in her role as the director of education at the Oklahoma Aquarium. Her job requires her to oversee onsite education programs and create content for social media pages … and she’s taken to it like a fish to water. “I love that I can make a lasting impact on someone’s attitude towards marine life, and that I can inspire others to become better stewards for our environment,” she says. Along with garnering millions of views on her content, Rodriguez works to make “complex topics in science more accessible, relevant and fun to learn.” After earning her Bachelor of Science degree from Cornell University, Rodriguez moved to Tulsa and quickly got involved with Tulsa’s Young Professionals as the co-crew leader for sustainability. “I am extremely passionate about making sustainable living more accessible, more inclusive and higher on everyone’s priority list,” she says. Off the clock, Rodriguez enjoys soccer, yoga and drawing. She recently got her open water scuba diving certification.
2. Ashley Harris Philippsen
Senior Director of Engagement and Advocacy, ImpactTulsa
Ashley Harris Philippsen planned to become a civil rights attorney, but a chance encounter with some Teach for America alumni during an internship changed her life. After the meeting, “I decided to apply for the corps,” she says. “Teaching in Houston shifted my trajectory so that, no matter what I do, I work so that we might disrupt inequitable systems that prevent students from receiving a quality education.” At ImpactTulsa, Philippsen works towards that goal daily, partnering with school districts, organizations and neighborhoods to drive policy, systems-change and programs that “create sustainable outcomes for students in the Greater Tulsa area.” Before ImpactTulsa, Philippsen worked for the City of Tulsa. Her proudest accomplishment there was creating a model for more inclusive development, leading the request for a proposal for a development in the Greenwood district. “I designed a process in which the community co-designs a master plan with professionals,” she says. Off the clock, she’s involved with the Tulsa Development Authority; the Greater Tulsa African Affairs Commission; the MetCares board; and the Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission, among others. She also enjoys reading, journaling, pop culture and spending time with her husband and two children.
3. Scott A. Butcher
Attorney, shareholder in the Energy and Natural Resources Practice Group, Crowe & Dunlevy, P.C.
For Scott Butcher, who describes himself as “compulsively analytical,” becoming a trial lawyer just made sense. “I naturally don’t stop thinking about a problem until I fully understand it and see how to get others to understand it the way I do,” he says. But Butcher doesn’t spend all his working hours in the courtroom – there’s a lot of time spent doing legwork and collaborating with other attorneys. “It’s not all fun and games, or everyone would do it,” he says. “But we’re really good at it, and it’s very rewarding to apply a skill you’ve honed to vindicate your clients interests.” One of Butcher’s greatest passions at Crowe & Dunlevy is his role as recruiting chair for the firm. “It’s a position of real consequence for my partners just as it is for the students,” he says. “I meet a lot of really impressive students, and unfortunately you can’t hire them all.” Pre-COVID, Butcher spent many years on the board of the OKC Metro Literacy Coalition. Off the clock, you can catch him fishing or spending time with his family. “At heart, I’m a family man,” says Butcher, who married his high-school sweetheart, Brooke, and has two daughters. “They’re my world.”
4. Krystan Moser
Cultural Collections and Exhibits Manager, Cherokee Nation Businesses
Preserving Cherokee Nation’s history and culture is the goal for Krystan Moser, who works for the Cherokee Nation Cultural Tourism Department. “We exhibit cultural art at over 30 properties, including our clinics and casinos,” she says. “I also oversee exhibit design and development for our eight museum properties and special exhibits with partnering institutions.” With a focus on ensuring the Nation’s stories are told “accurately and authentically,” Moser says her greatest achievement at work thus far as been opening the Cherokee National History Museum in 2019. The pandemic restructured a lot for Moser, who focused on virtual programming more than ever before. “Personally, the pandemic has provided a kind of reset for me,” she says. “Before, I was always rushing. I find myself slowing down a bit more and enjoying things I used to take for granted.” In her spare time, Moser is passionate about fighting food insecurity with the Community Food Bank of Northeastern Oklahoma and Iron Gate. She enjoys spending time with her husband and dog, doing arts and crafts, and something a little off-beat: “I’m a huge mythology nerd,” she says.
5. Aaron Burns
Area superintendent, Crossland Construction
Aaron Burns grew up in Columbus, Kan. – the corporate headquarters of his future employer, Crossland Construction. “I was able to witness the growth and success of the company while in high school,” he says. With a natural inclination towards building, working with his hands and problem solving, Burns felt construction management was the right fit; he’s now been with Crossland for 13 years. As an area superintendent, Burns oversees a variety of employees and finds ways to increase effectiveness through mentorship and education. “Mentoring and teaching people is something that I love,” he says. “I try to treat my co-workers like they are my family. Earning someone’s trust and respect is priority for me.” His hard work does not go unnoticed; he won Crossland’s Employee of the Year award in 2018. “It was presented to me by my co-workers from a project that we worked on for 2 years together. It was a humbling experience and something that I will never forget.” Off the clock, Burns enjoys woodworking, true crime, disc golf and family time with his wife and four children.
6. Aaron ‘A.J.’ Johnson
Executive Director, Tulsa Dream Center
Aaron ‘A.J.’ Johnson leads the Tulsa Dream Center, a faith-based community hub in the heart of north Tulsa. When asked what he does in his day-to-day, Johnson’s answer is simple: “Giving hope. Changing lives. We are hope dealers!” With a focus on education, medical needs and hunger, TDC looks to fill a void and restore individuals and families in the region. The highlight for Johnson is “seeing the faces of the people we get to serve on a daily basis,” he says. COVID-19 did not deter him. “Even in a pandemic, our team and volunteers came together to serve people in a tremendous way.” Helping those in need isn’t something Johnson just does for work – he also collaborates with his church to serve single parents and their families in his spare time. “It’s so impactful because I grew up in a single parent home,” he says. On top of reading, spending time with his daughters, heading to the gym and focusing on daily personal growth, Johnson is currently working on his Masters of Business Administration at ORU. The secret to his seemingly boundless energy? “Baked mac and cheese is the answer to any problem,” he says.
7. Krystal Hanks
Tulsa and Naples, Fla.
Vice President, T-Town Roofing; President, Roof Revolution
With a degree in accounting, Krystal Hanks oversees T-Town Roofing and Roof Revolution’s operations and finance departments. The highlight of her career is showcasing a job well done to her clients. “I love wowing people; I love showing our clients that excellence still exists in the world today,” she says. “I love striving to be the best at what we do.” Hanks got into the business through her husband, whom she met at 17. “He was a second-generation roofer, so I naturally saw how I could help the business and went to work to help improve the processes and get them more organized.” The rest is history. “I am so proud that I get co-lead our amazing team, who are some the most diligent, brilliant, generous and high integrity people that I have ever known.” Off the clock, Hanks has her hands full. She donates her time to a variety of Tulsa-based causes, enjoys boxing, long-boarding and being active, and is also prepping for law school in the fall. She’s also a busy mom. “I had my first child with my husband at the young age of 18,” she says. “We have 4 kids total – and I have a college student all the way down to a kindergartner!”
8. Brandon Robbins
Vice President of Risk Management and Human Resources, Ross Group
Brandon Robbins’ job as the VP of both risk management and human resources at Ross Group entails a lot of duties … but he sums it up the best way: “I’m responsible for our people,” he says. “I’m accountable for their safety and well-being, professional development and training, as well as helping to ensure that we are adhering to our company’s core values. Helping send our people home every day to their families safely means a lot to me.” A self-proclaimed extrovert, Robbins mentions that working from home during the pandemic hasn’t been easy. “It really reminded me of the importance of taking full advantage of the time you have to spend with family and friends. You just never know what is going to happen,” he says. Attributing his success to some great mentors and his supportive wife, Robbins has learned a lot in his career. “Don’t be afraid to take a risk on yourself,” he advises. “We all have to walk our own road. Sometimes you end up further down it than you ever imagined, sometimes you walk back kicking rocks.” Outside work, Robbins enjoys coaching his children’s’ teams, traveling and sports. “Our family is attempting to go to every Major League Baseball stadium,” he says. “Currently at six, so we’ve 24 to go!”
9. Ashley Yuras
Emergency room nurse practitioner, Bristow Medical Center and the Center for Orthopedic Reconstruction and Excellence (CORE)
As a nurse practitioner, Ashley Yuras lives to serve. Along with working in the ER, Yuras spends time at CORE Orthopedic Hospital doing rounds and connecting with patients. She also enjoys volunteering with Tulsa Day Center for the Homeless and the Tulsa Community Food Bank. “Both of these causes can go hand-in-hand with my position in the ER; it’s all about serving the underserved and making these people feel worthy, because they are,” she says. With a husband also in the healthcare field, Yuras says the initial stages of the COVID-19 crisis brought on myriad difficulties, including time apart from their 2-year-old daughter, who went to live with Yuras’ mother-in-law out of an abundance of caution. “I did what all moms would do: I put our child’s safety first so I could give myself to others in time of need,” she says. “We didn’t see anyone for months, we stayed home to help stop the spread, but most importantly, we grew,” she says. “We grew stronger as a couple and in our faith. We are better because of the sacrifices we made.” But 2020 had a monumental high point: Yuras found out she’s expecting twins.
10. Douglas Glenn
President, civil engineer, CEC Corporation
Douglas Glenn was driven to the career of engineering because he “wanted to be involved in creating big, tangible things that people would use every day,” he says. At CEC, Glenn does just that by eliminating aging infrastructure and driving community growth within the company. “I get to work with talented, motivated people who love providing quality service to our clients,” he says. “If you don’t smile at CEC, you don’t fit in.” For Glenn, the pandemic shifted his perspective and gave him some insight. “It has taught us all to communicate with more purpose,” he says. “We have five locations in four cities, and throwing everyone into a period of separation caused some of those distances to be less of a hurdle when we were able to return. Personally, reclaiming commute time as family time was a blessing.” As an engineer, Glenn realizes his work is never finished. “You have to learn to be OK with progress over perfection,” he says. After hours, Glenn enjoys spending time with his family, gardening and coaching his kids’ sports teams. “Kids are fun because they are so brutally honest,” he says. “They keep your ego in check. My own daughters are good for that, too.”
11. Jonathan C. Still
District Executive, Boy Scouts of America – Last Frontier Council; Soldier, Oklahoma Army National Guard
Jonathan Still serves a variety of regions within OKC through the Last Frontier Council of the Boy Scouts of America. On the clock, Still “works to engage Scouts, Scouting families, community leaders and business professionals.” For him, making a difference within OKC is deeply rewarding. “I am fortunate to serve communities that I grew up in, and to be an intentional example of positivity for Scouts and families who need positivity in their lives,” he says. Since Boy Scouts activities are often all about socializing and connection, Still says the pandemic caused him to reframe his perspective and think outside the box. “We have made attempts to do virtual Scout meetings and other social media promotions to keep people informed about Scouting,” he says. “COVID-19 has also shown me how much time is wasted and how every single moment is precious.” Off the clock, Still is a minister at his church; a member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity; a member of the Oklahoma Army National Guard at American Legion Post #160; and his sons’ Cub Scouts leader. “Even when life is not kind to you at times, it is rewarding to help others,” he says.
12. Francis Wilmore
Architect and Director of Design, KKT Architects
If you took a peek at the Tulsa skyline, there’s a good chance Francis Wilmore helped to conceptualize and create a building within your sights. As the director of design at KKT, Wilmore helps to make Tulsa “a more liveable, equitable and vibrant community” by collaborating with multiple teams, conceptualizing designs and working towards tangible results. He knew his calling early in life. “When I was very young, I loved to go to the library and check out a book of photography of ironworkers constructing the New York skyline,” he says. “Amongst others, the iconic Icarus and Men at Lunch images always stuck with me, until I finally made the decision to become an ‘arcitech’ – yes, I couldn’t quite spell it yet – in my third grade autobiography.” Wilmore’s passion for architecture extends beyond the office; he’s the president of the Eastern Oklahoma Chapter of the American Institute of Architects and serves on the state level board. “Recently, we’ve worked with local STEM teachers to teach a curriculum on architecture to third and fourth graders,” he says. In his off-time, Wilmore enjoys golfing, time with family and getting away to his in-laws’ lake house … which he designed.
13. Josh Driskell
President and CEO, Jenks Chamber of Commerce
Mixing small businesses, public affairs and community development, Josh Driskell’s job as CEO of the Jenks Chamber of Commerce is a dream come true. His day-to-day consists of “managing an organization dedicated to promoting Jenks, Jenks’ economic development and a pro-business economy,” he says. “I work directly with economic development and government affairs.” He says he’s most proud of two aspects of his job. “The first is the direct impact we have on the Jenks community. The other is the ability to work with incredibly dedicated and passionate professionals.” In his tenure, Driskell’s top accomplishment thus far “would be our efforts to pass bond issues that improved our city infrastructure and opened a large tract of land to development, and our work to pass a school bond that constructed a new elementary school,” he says. Off the clock, Driskell enjoys taking road trips around Oklahoma and spending time with his family, friends and French bulldog. A true fan of his home state, Driskell says that if he weren’t in his current job, he’d “undoubtedly by a historian, most likely focusing on Oklahoma history.”
14. Kamran M. Riaz, MD
Ophthalmologist, cornea/refractive surgery specialist, Dean McGee Eye Institute; Clinical associate professor, University of Oklahoma
Dr. Kamran Riaz’s job requires a lot of balancing – but his passion for the subject matter shines through it all. “Vision is perhaps the greatest gift that every human being values,” he says. “My practice encompasses the full spectrum of anterior segment ophthalmology, including cataract, cornea, external disease, anterior segment and refractive surgery.” On top of a busy practice, Riaz guides future physicians at OU and participates in research. Along with helping his patients see better and handling a variety of complex cases, being a mentor to his residents is a highlight of Riaz’s job. “It gives me great joy to know that every resident I help train will go on to care for thousands of patients in the future, and that I will have played a small role in that process.” In his off time, Riaz stays active – spending time with his family and acting as a volunteer Imam for his local mosque, leading prayer and participating in community outreach. The pandemic taught him to slow down. “It has made me appreciate the simple things in life: food, shelter, family, health. It has made me stop caring about the things I don’t have and instead value the simple things that I do have.”
15. Calvin Michael Moniz
Executive Director, The Saint Simeon’s Foundation
Dedicated to providing a dignified, spiritual and holistic life experience to residents of Saint Simeon’s Episcopal Home, Calvin Moniz lives his life with a focus on philanthropy and stewardship. “What I love about the non-profit leadership sector is the ability to see how my efforts change the lives of individuals; scholarships for college students, facilities that provide a comprehensive living experience, and programs that support individuals to achieve their best at any stage of life,” he says. “To see the smile on a beneficiary’s face that lifts the pressure of a financial burden is very rewarding.” Off the clock, Moniz’s passion for volunteering is evident; he spends time with the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, the City of Tulsa Housing and Urban Development’s Community Development Committee, the University of Tulsa Alumni Association and Kendall Whittier Main Street. Before taking over at Saint Simeon’s, Moniz says his greatest accomplishment was working full-time while earning his law degree in 5 years. “It was a challenge academically, professionally, and spiritually,” he says. In his spare time, Moniz enjoys spending time with friends and his cat, Pfeiffer.
16. Liz Shumate
Licensed clinical social worker, Manager of Outpatient Behavioral Health, Norman Regional Health System
At Norman Regional, Liz Shumate works to ensure quality treatment options for patients by creating effective programing that responds to the needs of each individual and his or her unique circumstances. “When challenges arise, I work to find innovative solutions that maximize resources and expand service capacity,” she says. Succeeding through collaboration, Shumate loves “working with a flexible team who is always willing to do what’s in the best interest of the patient.” The variety of social work drew her to the profession. In the course of an average day, Shumate may “review financial reports, teach students, provide clinical consultation, collaborate with other departments to ensure continuity of care, advocate for change and equity, and evaluate the efficiency of my departments,” she says. “Social work skills are transferable from micro to macro practice, with an opportunity to work in various settings.” Shumate was the co-founder of the Inclusion and Diversity Council at Norman Regional. Off the clock, she volunteers with the OU School of Social Work and enjoys spending time with friends and family.
17. Nikki Walker
Administrative Supervisor – Patient Care Services, Saint Francis Hospital
As a critical care registered nurse, Nikki Walker has been an indispensable asset to Saint Francis Health System in the last year. Along with supervising all patient admissions, discharges and transfers, Walker handles a variety of emergency situations, staff requests and patient care, and serves as incident commander for disaster situations. COVID-19 put her training to the test. “I’ve learned the importance and impact of community response and the spirit of teamwork,” she says. “Over the past year, my love and appreciation for what I do and the people I get to work with has deepened more than I thought it could.” Walker loves her job for a variety of reasons, but camaraderie is at the top of the list. “We have a family environment where everybody is here for each other and the patients,” she says. “As a nurse, I knew I could use my profession anywhere in the world while working with people every day. I knew I needed a career that would be challenging and interesting with new and exciting experiences every day. I have found that and more here at Saint Francis.” Off the clock, you can find Walker at the gym, on the beach, or baking.
18. Michael Winterscheidt
Civil engineer, Municipal Transportation Team leader, project manager, Garver
Michael Winterscheidt is paving the way for Tulsans … literally. As the leader of Garver’s municipal transportation team, he designs roadway projects across the state, coordinating with multiple clients, reviewing construction plans, mentoring and training team members. “I love the challenge; there is a new challenge every day,” he says. “I also relish the collaboration we have working to achieve a common goal with both people in Tulsa and those located in other Garver offices.” Some of Winterscheidt’s favorite projects thus far include “the rehabilitation of Cherry Street, the implementation and installation of miles of bike lanes in Tulsa, the widening of Ninth Street in Broken Arrow, and the Pathway to Hope in downtown Tulsa,” he says. Off the clock, Winterscheidt loves spending time at Habitat for Humanity. “To have a helping hand in someone achieving their dream of becoming a homeowner is amazing,” he says. Along with family bike rides, home renovations, woodworking and hiking, Winterscheidt enjoys cooking and brushing up on his comedic chops. “I have a great sense of humor but tell the worst ‘dad jokes’ ever … just ask my son, Asher.”
19. Mark H. Mabrey
Banking – Market President, Senior Vice President, Mabrey Bank
Leading the strategic direction of the Okmulgee market of Mabrey Bank, Mark Mabrey also oversees all lending and branch functions for the institution. “In addition, I represent the bank in the community and work to identify ways our team can support various community initiatives,” he says. “I love building personal relationships with our customers and their families and working with them to identify financial solutions that help them meet their goals.” Mabrey’s family has been involved with the bank since the early 1900s. “I grew up surrounded by the business and always found it intriguing,” he says. “I am most proud that I have the opportunity to help grow and manage a third-generation, family-owned company that believes and invests in small businesses.” Mabrey harbors a passion for the outdoors, and spends many of his off-hours outside, hunting, fishing and spending time with family and friends. He’s also involved in volunteerism around the city, working with Okmulgee Main Street, the Okmulgee Chamber of Commerce, Friends of the Deep Fork National Wildlife Refuge, Okmulgee County Family YMCA and United Way.
20. Sara L. Adams
Director of Marketing, Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma
Sara Adams has been with the Choctaw Nation for over 16 years, climbing the ladder of success. “I worked in an entry level position as a cashier and worked hard for opportunity and promotion,” she says. “I was a single mom and an untraditional student when I decided to finish my bachelor’s degree. Learning how to be self-reliant and motivated have made me who I am today.” Now, Adams leads the marketing efforts for the Nation, developing strategic plans for a variety of divisions and making a major impact on Oklahoma. “I love to see the results of our campaigns. We are privy to many types of businesses, so the impact is truly unexplainable. Some of our efforts result in millions of dollars – billion a time or two – in revenues. Seeing those dollars being poured into southeastern Oklahoma is what makes me proud.” Off the clock, Adams enjoys spending time with her two daughters. “I love to run, do CrossFit, and stay active outdoors,” she says. When asked what she’s looking forward to, Adams says: “Seeing my kids do better than I have. I look forward to the strong women they will become.”
21. Sarah Susanne Roberts
Business development representative, Tinker Federal Credit Union
Sarah Roberts spends her days promoting Tinker Federal Credit Union, “increasing membership by creating top-of-mind awareness and affinity for TFCU in the community,” she says. The job, to Roberts, is all about developing relationships. “There are so many things I love about my job, but my favorite would be meeting new people,” she says. “I have a strong passion for relationships and my job allows me to meet some of the best people in Oklahoma.” TFCU is eager to give back, which is reflected in Roberts and her off-the-clock activities – she volunteers with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Norman, Ally’s House, Salvation Army and Norman Next. “By volunteering through these various organizations, it has not only made me a more compassionate person, but a better person,” she says. In her spare time, Roberts enjoys staying active: hunting, fishing, trying out local restaurants and spending time with friends and family. She’s also a black belt in Taekwondo and spent her quarantine making a real difference in her own life: “I gained control of my health and lost 15 pounds!”
22. Jaime Danielle Daniels
Account development data specialist, Express Services, Inc.
At Express Services, Jaime Daniels coordinates and maintains a variety of accounts and “analyzes and pursues potential future business, maintaining focus on the growth of market share and a strong reputation for high-quality service.” For Daniels, the dynamic nature of the job keeps her on her toes. “Each day brings a new adventure and sense of service,” she says. “I chose to be part of this company because Express is about people first. This is not just a job, but a life mission for me. Knowing that what I do impacts the lives of people by helping them provide for their families is beyond rewarding – its humbling.” Working from home since the onset of COVID-19, the last year has given Daniels some perspective. “I have become more aware of how much we all need each other,” she says. “No man is an island and no man stands alone.” In her spare time, Daniels volunteers for a local food pantry. “I believe doing this type of volunteerism keeps me focused on what really matters and how blessed I truly am,” she says. Off the clock, Daniels spends time with her daughter and enjoys thrifting, cooking and writing.
23. Kimberly Honea
Business development officer, Nabholz Corporation
Kimberly Honea loves interacting with her community, so her job as a business development officer at Nabholz is the perfect fit. “My passion has always been connecting with others in our city and striving to help them in any way I can, be it professionally or personally,” she says. “I also have a passion for de novo projects – seeing projects go from paper to the sky is something I love being a part of.” With a love for architecture and design, Honea enjoys combining logistics with personal connections to see her clients’ dreams come true. “Seeing their ideas coming to life via Nabholz and being the liaison between that process makes me proud,” she says. Previously in the hotel industry, Honea says COVID-19 hit her hard. “It was life altering, but allowed me to stay at home with my kiddo, who was set for a full year of distance learning.” When she’s not making dreams come true at Nabholz, Honea enjoys hiking, volunteering with the Parkinson’s Foundation and spending time with her daughter – “which usually involves lots of free-style dancing,” she says.
24. Tiffany Gamblin
Human Resources Manager, Paycom
Working in human relations for a human relations technology company is what Tiffany Gamblin calls “an amazing opportunity – we get to provide daily feedback on software improvement to help ensure our tool is industry leading,” she says. “Not only do I help drive HR excellence with the people that I interact with daily, but our HR team is also transforming the experience of HR tech for both frontline and back-end users across the profession.” Gamblin leads a team of 29 people, focusing on onboarding, HR compliance and employee relations. Nicknamed ‘Get It Done Gamblin’ by her boss, her secret to success is always doing more than is expected. “It is never crowded on the extra mile! I have always worked to be a load lifter; if you see a need, fill it,” she says. Off work, Gamblin donates her time to the Salvation Army of Central Oklahoma, Habitat for Humanity, Anna’s House Foundation and her church. She’s also passionate about animals, and enjoys riding horses and taking care of her chicken farm, which has “four permanent residents – they are popular on social media,” she says.
25. Joshua J. Conaway
Attorney, Calvert Law Firm
A self-described “small town country boy,” Joshua Conaway, in his childhood, thought it would be tough to become a lawyer. “At that time, I wanted to be a lawyer because it looked like an exciting job on television,” he says. “Today, I am honored to be a part of this profession for more reasons than just the exciting experience.” Representing clients through a variety of mergers, acquisitions and other transactions, Conaway says the highlight of his job is helping clients “cross the finish line. No matter the situation, it is a blessing to see my clients’ relief and/or excitement when I meet their legal needs.” Outside work, Conaway loves fishing, his pets and youth ministry. And while 2020 was a bummer for many, Conaway’s re-imagined wedding – which was originally a traditional church affair – was a bright spot. “About a month before our wedding date, I called an audible and planned a drive-in movie theater wedding,” he says. “It was so much fun. From the comfort of their cars, nearly 300 people witnessed my wife and I’s vows at my grandparent’s centennial ranch – the same land my parents had gotten married at 34 years prior.”
26. Lauren Bristow
Director of Clinical Operations, Citizen Potawatomi Nation Health Services
Lauren Bristow is responsible for the operational management of a variety of large, tribally operated clinics around Oklahoma in her role at Citizen Potawatomi Nation. While her original life plan was to go to nursing school, her spouse’s military career shifted priorities. “My husband received orders to a duty station outside of the continental United States, so I was unable to,” she says. “I am thankful for this turn of events, as I truly enjoy clinic operations.” Patients play a big role in Bristow’s day-to-day. “I love interacting with our patients, whether it is a conversation in the hallway, working through a concern or simply providing a listening ear.” Along with serving her tribe and doing her part to reduce health disparities in Native American populations, Bristow is passionate about a variety of philanthropic endeavors, including military family readiness; increasing access to quality cancer care in Native populations; and local/rural music education. In her off hours, you can find Bristow traveling, hiking and gardening with her family. In 2021, Bristow is most looking forward to “the opportunity to take a vacation with my family, including my sister, who is a Naval aviator.”
27. Josh Newton
Deputy Executive Director of Communications, Cherokee Nation
Collaboration in the name of the game for Josh Newton, who leads and works alongside a team of writers, photographers, videographers, graphic designers and social media experts to promote and protect the image of the Cherokee Nation. Newton enjoys a lot about his job, but he says his main responsibility is “to ensure the Cherokee story is told by Cherokees. When we look across the country in 2021, we see Native Americans finding more and more opportunities to take control of their own narratives in so many venues. I believe that is absolutely essential to the health of our tribes, and having a hand in that at the Cherokee Nation is an awesome responsibility.” A talented writer and photographer in his own right, Newton has spent the last 10 years volunteering his skills to the Tahlequah Fire Department, photographing their work and creating documentaries and public service announcements. “Seeing the tenacity of first responders first-hand has given me a deeper respect and understanding of what ‘selflessness’ really means,” he says. Off the clock, Newton enjoys traveling and spending time with his wife, Michelle.
28. Adam Ballard
Vice President of Marketing and Advertising, Paycom
As a marketing expert, Adam Ballard is driven by people. “I’ve always been fascinated by people. Why they do what they do, why they buy what they buy, why they watch and consume what they do,” he says. “At the same time, I’ve always been a person with more ideas than I can contain. So marketing and advertising was really the perfect intersection of art and science that I love more every day.” At Paycom, Ballard leads a diverse team of professionals who are responsible for growing the brand. Ballard says he loves his job for two reasons. “One – we have an industry-leading product that customers love, and two – I am only limited by my imagination. What else can you ask for as a marketer?” As a brand, Paycom craves growth, Ballard says. “I’m most proud of leading a team that’s not satisfied with the status quo.” In his spare time, Ballard enjoys volunteering with various ministries and with the Salvation Army. “My faith is an integral part of my life, and serving those in need brings incredible joy and perspective.” Off the clock, he enjoys time with his wife and kids, and looks forward to seeing live sports again soon. “Namely, OU football games,” he says.
29. Allie Friesen
Director of Clinical Programs – Behavioral Health, INTEGRIS Health
As the director of all things behavioral health for the INTEGRIS Health system, Allie Friesen has a big job. Her role, in short, is to strategize, develop and implement evidence-based practice across the continuum of care for patients. What she loves most is her “ability to utilize my unique clinical background to improve access to behavioral health services for potentially thousands of Oklahomans,” she says. “I have the privilege of helping to shift the stigma of mental health in our INTEGRIS Health community. This work allows our frontline caregivers to provide the highest level of care with confidence, so that they can continue to save and improve lives every day.” Growing up, Friesen always knew she wanted to help people. Mixing her philanthropic nature with her love of psychology, Friesen found her niche working towards closing the gap between “care related to counseling and support for individuals with neurological disorders and other chronic medical conditions.” In her spare time, Friesen collaborates with community leaders to improve access to behavioral health services. She is also a new mom, and loves off time with her husband, daughter and dog, Dez.
30. Daniel L. Sherron
Health Services Director, Ponca Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma
Daniel Sherron works diligently to protect the Ponca Tribe of Indians in his role as health services director. Overseeing all health programs for the tribe, Sherron manages the White Eagle Health Center, the Hope and Recovery Center, the Behavioral Health Program, and the Ponca Nation Wellness Center. “Having the opportunity to make improvements and offer better standards of care, while challenging, is a passion,” he says. “In the past, Indian healthcare has been viewed as substandard and behind the status quo, but tribes across the state are stepping up and showing out that we can play a vital role in being community partners and not only improving the lives of our citizens, but those around us.” Sherron stays busy off the clock; he’s an adjunct professor at both Northern Oklahoma College and Southwestern College, teaching business and humanities courses. “Teaching is a passion of mine, and having Native American representation is critical with regard to faculty composition,” he says. On top of that, Sherron volunteers with the Ponca City Lions and serves on the Pawnee Nation Gaming Commission and the Ponca Enterprise Gaming Board. Sherron is father to six kids and enjoys coaching basketball, spending time with his wife and attending tribal events.
31. Grady R. Conrad
Partner/senior attorney, Klingenberg & Associates, P.C.
Grady Conrad became a lawyer to solve real-world problems and help those around him. In his day-to-day, he does just that – balancing a variety of tasks like meeting with clients, legal research and writing, and advocating on behalf of client at court hearings and trials. With an emphasis on complex civil and commercial litigation, business transactions, commercial real estate, estate planning and family/domestic cases, Conrad has his plate full – but for him, it’s all about the relationships. “As an attorney, my priority is my client, and helping them accomplish their goals,” he says. “It is amazing to see the stress and frustration visibly disappear from a client’s face after providing competent assistance. I often get calls days, weeks and months after a matter is resolved, simply to express gratitude at how much better the client physically feels having resolved their matter.” Conrad, who’s greatest achievement at work has been making partner, spends a lot of his off-time at the Downtown OKC Exchange Club, which is focused heavily on child abuse prevention, awareness and intervention. He also enjoys spending time with friends and scuba diving.
32. Heather Cha, MD
Cardiologist, Ascension St. John Heart and Vascular Center at St. John Medical Center
Heather Cha, MD, FACC, describes cardiology as “the perfect blend of logic and challenge. It is something that makes so much sense to me, but also calls for me to think critically. Eight years in, I still find what I do enjoyable and interesting.” In a normal day, Cha manages a variety of cardiovascular issues – both in the office and at the hospital. Her favorite aspect of her job? “My patients! I have gotten to know some pretty amazing people over the years, and I am often touched by how genuine and kind people are in our community,” she says. “The long-term relationships I form with my patients is what makes me so thankful for my job.” In her spare time, Cha practices what she preaches – she sits on the board of directors for Tulsa’s American Heart Association chapter. She is also a clinical associate professor at the OU College of Medicine. At home, Cha enjoys time with her husband and her two sons, Carter and Chris. “My husband and I put the kids in the double-stroller and go on a 3-mile walk around the neighborhood almost every night,” she says. “It has become our family routine and a great way to relieve the day’s stress.”
33. Libby Ediger
Executive Director, Holberton School Tulsa
Libby Ediger works each day to make Tulsa a more competitive market for the growing world of software development. As the leader of Holberton Tulsa, Ediger, along with her staff, prepares students to become work-ready in under two years. “In my role, I recruit new students, work with employers to help place graduates into the Tulsa workforce, and prepare the school for future growth,” she says. “ Most students come to Holberton Tulsa with no prior coding experience, and I’m privileged to have a front row seat to the evolution of our students from novices to skilled programmers.” Ediger was drawn to Holberton after helping launch a software start-up in Washington, D.C. “It was an incredible experience and I wanted to take what I learned back to my home state,” she says. And that she did. “I’m proud to be part of an organization that puts into practice a belief I’ve long held – that the coasts do not hold a monopoly on opportunity,” she says. In her spare time, Ediger enjoys advocating for women and young people’s civic engagement; spending time with her husband; and trying out Tulsa’s bars and restaurants.
34. Destiny Green
Executive Director, Williams Route 66 Marathon
As the only full-time employee of the Williams Route 66 Marathon, Destiny Green is a skilled one-woman operation. Coordinating with volunteers, traveling to promote the marathon, executing all aspects of the event and welcoming participants across the finish line – Green does it all. “I love that I am able to have a part in helping people accomplish their goals and make amazing memories,” she says. After volunteering for the race for many years, Green was approached by the executive board to take the helm. “I followed my heart and have never looked back,” she says. Thus far, Green’s greatest achievement at work has been creating the marathon’s charity, Kicks for Kids. “Mentoring and coaching children to run our 5K has been very rewarding and is often the best part of my week,” she says. COVID-19 was tough for Green, who ended up hosting the marathon virtually last year. “On a positive note,” she says, “I was actually able to run our half marathon on the actual race day, something that would never be possible any other year!” Green enjoys spending time with her kids, volunteering for other marathons, happy hour at McNellie’s and visiting local farmers markets.
35. Ronnie Wood
Project manager, Manhattan Construction Company
Coordinating with designers, clients, contractors and communities, Ronnie Wood helps to ensure every project he handles at Manhattan Construction is delivered within schedule and budget. “I love working with new groups of people and serving them to help meet and fulfill their visions,” he says. While the entire construction process is enjoyable, one facet in particular is most rewarding to Wood. “I always enjoy the end of the project when the client gets to see their new space for the first time,” he says. “It is a great feeling helping a teacher carry that first box into their new classroom, and affirms that we are creating environments that will unearth future talents and lead to thriving families and cities.” Mentoring youth is important to Wood, who spends time off-the-clock with high school students at Younglife and First Baptist Church. “A legacy is what you leave in people, and I want to leave students confident they are living with integrity, purpose, selflessness and grit throughout their lives,” he says. Wood enjoys spending time at home with his wife and two sons and has recently taken up cycling and fishing.
36. James P. Davies, MD
Orthopedic surgeon – foot and ankle specialist, Premier Orthopedic Specialists of Tulsa
A fellowship-trained foot and ankle surgeon, Dr. James Davies can handle a wide array of medical issues – from “simple bunions and hammertoe corrections to ankle replacements, ankle and foot fractures, sprains and … any orthopedic injuries or conditions.” Along with his busy surgical schedule, Davies publishes research and is an active member of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and the American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society. Davies’ favorite part of the job is “developing strong patient-doctor relationships, where my patients can have all non-surgical and surgical options explained in a way anyone can understand, then get them back to the life and activities they enjoy.” Davies also enjoys volunteering, spending time at Mission of Hope Homeless Shelter, Project TCMS and Habitat for Humanity; teaching Sunday school; and going on mission trips to help underserved countries. Off the clock, you can find Davies with his wife and 3-year-old, golfing or doing yoga. The best thing that’s happened to Davies in the last year, he says, was moving back to Tulsa “to care for the community that raised me.”
37. Kari Shults
Vice President of Advancement, President, Tulsa Community College Foundation
Kari Shults is in the business of helping students succeed in her roles at Tulsa Community College and the TCC Foundation. Along with handling marketing and communications, Shults oversees the grant department and leads the foundation. “No two days are ever the same and there is always something new and exciting taking place,” she says. “I love the mission of TCC, building success through education. At the end of the day, it’s about helping students earn their degree so they can get a good job and earn a family-sustaining wage.” Calling the pandemic “the great disrupter of our lifetime,” Shults worked diligently to continue serving students from afar. She also learned a valuable lesson: “I can work from just about anywhere as long as I have reliable internet,” she says. “It’s remarkable to see how we have adapted to respond quickly to this new environment.” Touting open and honest communication as the secret to her success, Shults offers her best advice: “Ask questions. Don’t be afraid to ask what others may be thinking.” Off the clock, Shults loves to run, garden, and travel with her husband.
38. Leonelle Thompson
Director of Career and Professional Development, Langston University
Preparing students for success, Leonelle Thompson says her main job at Langston is to be of service to others. Along with providing students “with equitable connections and networks to employers and organizations,” she equips them with career readiness skills. “I love that I get the opportunity to impact a student’s life every single day,” she says. “I love that I get to help shape the next generation of our workforce. I am proud to be a part of a student’s journey of exploration, self discovery and realization of their goals and dreams.” Thompson worked in corporate America for several years, which influenced her enough to shift career paths. “There were so many new hires who were just not prepared for that environment and ended up leaving,” she says. “Growing up, my mom and grandparents instilled in me the notion that if you see a need and can do something about it, then do it.” In her spare time, Thompson enjoys hot yoga, golf, gardening and fishing, along with spending time with her husband, Joshua. Thompson is also passionate about volunteering at the African Methodist Episcopal Church’s Women’s Missionary Society.
39. Michael Kavalier
Assistant Vice President of Treasury Management, The First State Bank
Michael Kavalier spends his work days structuring clients’ accounts and providing proper tools to maximize profitability and minimize risk. For him, it’s all about the people – his favorite aspects of the job are building relationships with customers and “the team members I’m privileged to work with. At home or at work, I’m surrounded by family,” he says. He’s worked hard to get to his position, earning both a Bachelor and Masters of Science and a Masters of Business Administration. “I really enjoyed the MBA program at OSU, and the banking industry provided an opportunity to apply all that coursework,” he says. “My classmate in MBA school was Garth Brooks.” Kavalier attributes some of his success to his home state – crediting “Iowa farm work ethic and efficiency.” He also utilizes his favorite piece of advice in his day-to-day, in the form of a question: “If you don’t have time do it right the first time, when will you have time to do it over?” In his spare time, Kavalier spends time at Wings Special Needs Community. “Seeing the efforts of this organization positively impact the lives of its members and their families drives me to do everything I can to support their mission,” he says.
40. Nicole Hopkins
Director of Business Development, Dewberry
Nicole Hopkins says the heart of her job is “to see, know and serve people.” She does so by helping her team at Dewberry cultivate relationships with clients in the healthcare, higher education and public safety sectors. “Because Dewberry is one of the oldest architecture firms in Oklahoma, I can walk just about anywhere in Tulsa and point to a building our team is tied to, and frequently do so with my 5-year-old niece,” she says. “With only 17% of registered architects being women, the fact my niece already believes she can grow up to design hospitals and universities matters. I have Dewberry to thank for that.” One of the highlights of Hopkins’ job is serving the nonprofit community. “It is not uncommon for me to spend evenings or weekends discussing potential facility funding sources with executive directors who desperately need new or renovated facilities,” she says. In her spare time, Hopkins volunteers with the Zone Academy and enjoys the Tulsa arts scene. She’s also the owner of Blasem Box, a corporate gifting company, which has “become a trusted gifting advisor for Fortune 500 companies, trade associations and small businesses throughout the region,” she says.