Today’s young professionals consistently push the envelope. Some work full-time while operating their own businesses on the side. Others spends hours of free time volunteering to make Oklahoma a safer and more inclusive place to live. Others still are creative pioneers, helping to spread the word about the magic that lies in the Sooner State.
Regardless of their passions and livelihoods, the 40 young professionals honored here stand out in more ways than one. Philanthropic, driven and sharp, this group is one to watch.
Welcome to the 40 Under 40 Class of 2022.
40 Under 40 honorees are unranked
and presented in no particular order.
All photos courtesy honorees.
40. Nina Williams, M.D.
Cardiologist, Warren Clinic Cardiology of Tulsa – Saint Francis Hospital
It was a personal connection that pushed Nina Williams into becoming a cardiologist. “When I was 13, I had the privilege to aid in providing care for my grandmother who had congestive heart failure in her final months of life,” she says. “It was my direct experience with my grandmother and her physicians which introduced me to the field of cardiology,” she says. Mixing her love for people and for science, she says, is “the perfect blend.” As a non-invasive cardiologist, Williams focuses on the diagnosis and treatment of simple and complex cardiac issues. “My interests lie in preventative medicine, cardio-obstetrics, women’s cardiovascular health and cardiac critical care,” she says. Along with enjoying time with patients and the complexities of the job, Williams says what makes her proudest is when “a patient or family member expresses their excitement and appreciation to have a physician who looks like them and understands them,” she says. Off the clock, Williams is heavily involved in the Tulsa-based non-profit Badoe Family Foundation, which builds children’s libraries in Ghana. “Being a part of and contributing to the Badoe Family Foundation has reignited my passion for service outside of medicine,” she says.
39. Aaron Stoops
Vice President, Crossland Construction Co., Inc.
Overseeing all operations for Crossland’s OKC division, Aaron Stoops handles everything from project acquisitions to business development and operations management. “I love that, in construction, no project is the same. Each one is unique and comes with new challenges, making every day an adventure,” he says. For Stoops, his regard for construction started early. “I have always been interested in buildings. I chose to go to school for architecture, but quickly realized that my mind works better in the concrete than abstract. Construction engineering seemed to fit this perfectly.” Stoops’ favorite aspect of his work at Crossland is “changing communities for the better,” citing his involvement in projects like schools and senior wellness centers. In his spare time, Stoops – who attributes his success to hard work and innovation – volunteers for Habit for Humanity and the United Way of Central Oklahoma. He enjoys golf, and is looking forward to the 2022 PGA tournament. When asked what the best thing was that happened to him in the last year, Stoops’ answer is one that resonates with many: “A year of a happy, healthy family.”
38. Andrew Snyder
Civil Engineer and Project Manager, Garver
New construction and the rehabilitation of existing highways, interchanges and arterial streets is the technical description of Andrew Snyder’s role at Garver. But to him, it’s far more magical. “As a consultant, I get to work on some of the most unique and complicated projects in my field, which is extremely rewarding for someone who geeks out about stuff like that,” he says. The job of a civil engineer, Snyder explains, is ideal for him because it’s “the perfect combination of my love of math and science and my passion to serve others from behind the scenes.” Speaking of, Snyder takes the duty of philanthropy seriously. “Since 2013, I have organized and/or participated in an Adopt-A-Highway partnership with ODOT. Through Garver, I have also been able to put together STEM kits for Key Elementary kids.” He and his family additionally volunteer with John 3:16 and Arms Around Broken Arrow. His greatest achievement at work was being honored with the peer-nominated Spirit of Garver award. “There are so many great employees at Garver,” he says. “To be named one of the top among my peers was one of the most humbling and rewarding achievements of my career.”
37. James C. O’Brien, M.D.
Neuro-Ophthalmologist, Dean McGee Eye Institute; Clinical Assistant Professor, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center
Recognizing how much people value the sense of sight, James C. O’Brien pursued a career in opthalmologic healthcare and now serves his community and trains the next generation of physicians as a neuro-ophthalmologist. “My job allows me to help my patients by educating and informing them of their problem, and when able, I have the privilege of providing interventions to solve them. There is a lot of satisfaction in arriving at a diagnosis and helping my patients achieve relief of their problems.” In his spare time, O’Brien volunteers his talents by offering eye exams to underserved communities, and has spent time with Project Bravo to help immigrants for citizenship examinations. One key to O’Brien’s success comes from advice he got as a medical student. “I was told to ‘never skip meals’ as a doctor,” he says. “The meaning behind this advice was that as a physician, I cannot forget to take care of my own health as well so that my ability to take care of patients is not compromised.” O’Brien spends time out of the office with his wife, daughter and two dogs, and enjoys reading, brewing, barbecuing and video games.
36. Samantha Strealy
Business Development Representative, Tinker Federal Credit Union
Samantha Strealy says the secret to her success is pretty simple: “Loving what you do.” And she does. Strealy is responsible for promoting TFCU – helping to increase membership “by creating top-of-mind awareness and attraction for TFCU in the community,” she says. This means meeting and interacting with lots of people, which, as an extrovert, she enjoys. Her favorite part of the role is “being involved in the communities I help support and being able to be part of the growth of those cities.” In her spare time, Strealy is devoted to making the world a better place. “I support the Alzheimer’s Association, Oklahoma Humane Society, Downtown Edmond Business Association, Downtown Edmond Art’s Festival and Cavett Kids Foundation,” she says. “The Alzheimer’s Association is a cause that is close to my heart, and I feel they are helping to make major strides in finding a cure.” A surprising tidbit about Strealy? She’s an athlete. “I played basketball in college for Oklahoma City University,” she says.
35. Dan Kaiman
Rabbi, Congregation B’nai Emunah
Rabbi Dan Kaiman sees his work as “creating a home for serious social activism, engaging educational experiences, essential cultural connections and innovative thinking that will shape the next hundred years of Jewish life in Tulsa.” Along with his mentor Rabbi Marc Boone Fitzerman, Kaiman navigates life’s complexities with his congregation, enacting “the values of our tradition, learn[ing] from one another, and explor[ing] ways to make this world a better place.” This year, his synagogue did something major. “We opened a refugee resettlement agency and have taken part in the resettlement of nearly 60 Afghan men, women and children,” he says. “We anticipate working with over 100 people this year and are committed to this expression of welcome and assistance for the long-haul.” Outside work, Kaiman enjoys spending time with clergy from other faith traditions. “I know more about myself because I know more about others,” he says. He also cooks, spends time with his kids, embroiders and plays sports – one in particular. “I’m probably the only rabbi in the world who also plays NCAA Division 1 lacrosse,” he says.
34. Karissa Pickett
Undersecretary of Content and Production, The Chickasaw Nation
Overseeing a multitude of multimedia offerings, including video production, graphic design, photography, web development, broadcast productions and creative solutions, Karissa Pickett has a big job. To her, the work has one goal: “To help share the stories of our people and help create educational opportunities that engage our audience and instill a sense of pride in being Chickasaw.” Pickett is happy she can give back to the tribe that gave her so much, including “a college education through scholarships, and employment while I was in college,” she says. Having a mindset of hard work, plus adaptability and the ability to learn from mistakes, says Pickett, are major reasons for her success. In her off hours, she enjoys spending time on her cattle ranch with her family. In fact, if she weren’t involved with the Chickasaw Nation, she’d be “writing or full time ranching.” Pickett is also part of the Chickasaw Nation Violence Prevention Advisory Committee. Her hidden talent – which serves her well in communications – is her impeccable spelling. “During elementary school, I represented Oklahoma twice in the Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C.,” she says.
33. Kenny Reinbold
Digital Branding Manager, Express Employment International
Kenny Reinbold’s job, he says, is split into “two distinct perspectives. First, it’s to support our franchise owners with coaching on digital marketing best practices for recruiting. The other half of my job is in providing advertising and marketing support for our franchise sales team, to help them find candidates interested in owning an Express franchise.” It keeps his days busy, but he says his co-workers make it all worthwhile. “They are supportive, talented, creative and motivated to help each other succeed,” he says. He loves working for Express because the company is “made up of small business owners who have often invested everything they have to step out on their own. I love that I can play a part in helping their dream of entrepreneurship come true.” In his off hours, Reinbold can be found with his family, at church, running or playing golf. He is also involved in OKC’s philanthropic network, serving on boards for the Red Bud Classic and the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. “Both of these organization allowed me to see the impact that can be made when people in a community gather together to support a specific cause,” he says.
32. Rebecca Benham
Chief Nursing Officer, Chief Operating Officer, CORE Hospital
Rebecca Benham, as the chief nursing officer and COO of CORE, oversees clinical operations for the hospital, including accreditation, risk management and business development. “I love our team and the amazing quality of care that we provide to our patients,” she says. Initially, Benham was drawn to nursing for its stability. “I knew early on that healthcare was a stable, undying profession,” she says. “This led me to it, but the fulfillment, gratitude for life and team have retained me.” She’s most proud of making a difference in people’s lives, and of the people she works with daily. “Although remaining passionate in such a demanding field and climate is sometimes challenging, I am proud of the perseverance that our team exudes daily,” she says. Outside work, Benham is passionate about youth development and community enhancement. She co-founded the Paden Youth Foundation, coaches little league athletics, and was recently elected a board member for the Paden Public School system. “The lifelong relationships that I have developed through mentoring and my volunteerism have changed how I move through life,” she says.
31. Paige Archambo
Program Director, Cherokee Nation Strategic Programs
As a program director, Paige Archambo supports and mentors program managers and ensures all their services “are carried out in accordance with Cherokee Federal policy,” she says. Archambo is dedicated to her job; she’s worked for Cherokee Federal since 2013, and she still loves it. “As a Cherokee citizen, I was privileged to have received a Cherokee scholarship to attend Oklahoma State University, and my family makes use of the Cherokee Health facilities,” she says. “I love working for a company whose profit goes back to the Cherokee citizens, towards healthcare, education and job creation – all of which provide better lives for Cherokee citizens.” Helping animals is a major passion project outside work, “whether that’s through donating food, toys, bedding and time to a local animal shelter or donating to and patronizing zoological parks. I’d like to think we are making a small impact and bettering their quality of life,” she says. In the last year, Archambo says the best thing that’s happened to her is having her daughter. “She has been such a blessing to my husband and I and has taught me how to enjoy the moment and learn to be patient.”
30. Lindsey Callery
Tax Partner, HoganTaylor
Lindsey Callery says she’s not your traditional accountant. “I tend to be little more right-brained in how I operate,” she says. “Thankfully, our firm operates under a ‘one fits one’ approach. This has allowed me the freedom to be myself in the firm and explore other ways to add value outside of my responsibilities as a tax professional.” Along with helping people file their taxes, Callery assists clients with trust and estate planning, along with technical tax buy/sell transactions spanning across multi-state jurisdictions. She’s also dedicated to community service, something aided by HoganTaylor. “Each employee is given 24 hours a year to get out and serve others in our communities,” she says. Along with volunteering for the United Way and helping at food banks, Callery serves on the board of New Hope Oklahoma, which has given her great perspective. “We are all just one bad day, one mistake, one accident, one natural disaster away from needing the help from one or more of these amazing nonprofits in our state, instead of volunteering to serve them,” she says. Callery is also an avid music fan and loves heading to concerts around Tulsa.
29. Scott Andrews
Chief Operating Officer – Commercial Division, BOK Financial
Leading a team responsible for executing strategic initiatives on behalf of BOK Financial, Scott Andrews says his co-workers are the best part of his job. “I’ve had the opportunity to assemble a truly remarkable team,” he says. “Every single one of them is a leader across our company and focused on making BOK Financial a better place to work and serve clients. Bringing together this powerful team is my proudest accomplishment.” Financial services, Andrews says, are the “life blood of communities,” and he’s excited about the work he’s doing. “We are building a platform that will allow us to optimize scale over the next 10-15 years,” he says. “Transformational work is hard, but meaningful.” When asked about success, Andrews says that “having the right definition is crucial. Success is working hard for things you care about and always prioritizing people ahead of things.” Andrews has his hands full in his off hours; along with spending time with his wife and three kids, he supports Catholic Charities of Eastern Oklahoma and serves on the board of 108 Contemporary.
28. Shanese Slaton
Community Relations Manager, ONE Gas
As a community relations manager, Shanese Slaton gets “to invest in the Tulsa community through relationships and financial support,” she says. “I have the opportunity to meet with community organizers, government officials, business leaders and community advocates to ensure Tulsa continues to grow and serve its citizens responsibly.” Essentially, forging bonds with others is her job – and she loves it. “What drives me is my heart to serve. I love helping others make their vision a reality. In all my roles, I saw the bigger vision of the impact the project or development was making for the community.” Prior to her role at ONE Gas, Slaton was instrumental in the development of the upcoming Mid American Industrial Park. “I’m grateful for the opportunity to have worked with such an incredible team of architects, engineers, contractors and staff to see the project from conception to completion.” Off the clock, Slaton serves on the board for the Foundation for Tulsa Schools. She’s the mom to a two-year old and also enjoys get togethers with her friends. “I always look forward to ending the week with the people I love,” she says.
27. Tim Rogers
Attorney and Shareholder, Barrow & Grimm, P.C.
With a focus on business law in the construction industry, attorney Tim Rogers helps his clients in topics ranging from strategy and risk management to contracts, transactions and dispute resolution. Along with the competitive nature of the business, Rogers loves his job because of “the people – my colleagues and clients.” Rogers began his career at Barrow and Grimm as an intern in law school. Now, he works with “some of the most innovative and entrepreneurial people in the industry. I never take for granted the trust my clients have placed in me. It is very humbling to know that these companies and individuals value, respect and rely upon my opinion.” Off the clock, Rogers is involved in Leadership Tulsa and the TU College of Law Alumni Association. “Without the education and support I received at TU, I would not be where I am today,” he says. Rogers is also an avid soccer fan. “I love to kick back with some coffee and cheer on the Tottenham Hotspurs and watch the English Premier League,” he says. “My 4-year old son, Charlie, is really getting into it now, so it has become a neat bonding opportunity for us. We even have matching jerseys.”
26. Wanas Jasim
Architectural Designer, KKT Architects, Inc.
Wanas Jasim sees as her job as “designing the connection between people, culture and place,” she says. “Architecture has just the right mix of creativity, collaboration, leadership and fulfillment to make for an enjoyable career and journey.” Logistically, Jasim’s job has a lot of moving parts, from handling multiple projects at a time to leading presentations, tackling architectural design components and interfacing with clients. “I love that it gives me the opportunity to employ my strengths and overcome my weaknesses,” she says. “The architectural mindset of problem solving and the level of open-mindedness it requires have enhanced my perspective, which was the key to many successes in my life.” Jasim harbors a soft spot for one particular facet of her job. She says what makes her proudest about her work is “the humanitarian aspect of healthcare design and the ability to design healing environments,” she says, citing her first healthcare project with Saint Francis Muskogee as her greatest achievement thus far. Jasim recently completed her master’s degree and spends time outside work at YWCA and exploring the area with friends and family.
25. Wayne Allen Coldwell
Healthcare Administrator and Deputy Executive Director of Internal Operations, Cherokee Nation Health Services
Wayne Coldwell supports the 11 healthcare facilities of the Cherokee Nation Health Services. “We work hand-in-hand with the local management team to produce optimal outcomes in everything ranging from day-to-day management to the innovation of new service lines,” he says. “I love my job because it allows me to give back to my tribe and my hometown. I have witnessed the advancement that Cherokee Nation has brought to this community throughout my lifetime, and I am proud to be a part of their continued progress.” Coldwell was always interested in the healthcare realm, but when he discovered the administrative side, he knew he found the right match. Passionate about bridging gaps, fixing socioeconomic inequities and dissolving healthcare disparities, Coldwell says his job allows him to make “sustainable, positive changes in our tribal communities.” Outside work, Coldwell is active in the Tahlequah Rotary Club and enjoys boating, professional baseball (he was a collegiate athlete), remodeling and investing. He is also recently engaged and working on his M.B.A., which he’ll finish in May of this year.
24. Sarah Stisser
HR Generalist, The Ross Group Construction Corp.
As a human resources generalist, Sarah Stisser handles “benefits administration, employee relations, training, performance management, onboarding, policy implementation, recruitment/employment, affirmative action and employment law compliance,” she says. “Being in HR gives you the opportunity to be involved with everything and everybody in the company. HR is always evolving and gives me the opportunity to constantly learn new rules/regulations, create new policies/procedures and the opportunity to help employees develop professionally.” Aside from loving the work, she also loves her co-workers. “I look forward to being here each day,” she says, “getting the opportunity to impact my coworkers, whether it be just a simple question, personal issue or advice, or contributing to company culture by increasing morale.” Off the clock, Stisser enjoys life with her kids. “I have two 9-year-old boys, so my time is always spent with them when I am not at work,” she says. “Whether it be on the baseball field, taking small weekend trips or hanging out at home.”
23. Whitney Wakefield
Director of Operations, AAON, Inc.
Leading AAON’s supply chain efforts, Whitney Wakefield’s day consists of scheduling, purchasing, shipping, engineering operations and oversight of the company’s warehouses. What she loves most about her job is “managing people and solving complicated problems,” she says. Wakefield mentions that while her job’s the perfect fit, she didn’t necessarily choose it. “I would say it more chose me. I started in an entry-level position in drafting and design. As time passed, it became clear to me that coordinating, organizing and managing people were where my strengths lay,” she says. Highlights on the job happen when Wakefield is able to “mentor or help someone move forward in their career,” she says, and her greatest achievement at work is being asked to join the senior leadership team. In her spare time, Wakefield enjoys social sports like volleyball and kickball, going to concerts, and creative endeavors like painting. She’s also passionate about animals. “I support a variety of animal shelters and animal charities,” she says. “I absolutely love all animals, and it’s really rewarding to know that I’ve even made a small difference in the quality of their lives.”
22. Andrea Pemberton
Executive Director, TYPROS
Tulsa Young Professionals – or TYPROS – is “one of the nation’s largest and most active young professional organizations,” says Andrea Pemberton. And she leads it. Along with creating events, programs and opportunities for connections, Pemberton works to develop leaders, build a strong and inclusive community, and make Tulsa the ideal spot for young professionals to thrive. “Tulsa is a special place that offers young people unlimited opportunities to be successful,” she says. “My job is to empower young people to realize and achieve their goals – it is the best job there is.” Pemberton is especially interested in voter engagement, spending time outside work volunteering for the League of Women Voters. Additionally, she helped support the launch of 918 Lead, which trains young Tulsans to run for office. “Building a pipeline of informed young candidates is one of the best ways we can support our community,” she says. In her off time, Pemberton enjoys traveling, live music, and visiting farmers markets and museums. “I am looking forward to traveling more again in 2022 and beyond,” she says. “I have a few bucket list trips planned for this year.”
21. BerThaddaeus Bailey
Director of My Brother’s Keeper, ImpactTulsa
In partnership with ImpactTulsa, BerThaddaeus Bailey leads a local effort of the Obama Foundation’s My Brother’s Keeper Alliance initiative to “mobilize and convene a cross sector coalition to focus on improving outcomes for boys and young men of color in Tulsa,” he says. “This job is deeply rooted in bolstering proven strategies and data-driven processes to achieve positive outcomes for boys and young men of color who look like me and come from similar backgrounds. I am also able to utilize my skills of policy, research, convening and strategy in my job.” As long as he can remember, Bailey says, he’s been interesting in politics, public service, philanthropy and policy. “I am proud to be working with organizations who are deeply engaged in systems change work to remove structures that perpetuate inequities in our community,” he says. Off the clock, Bailey’s schedule is full. When he’s not volunteering with Habitat for Humanity or helping the less fortunate through food banks and mentoring, Bailey spends his leisure time with his wife and daughter, doing DIY projects, watching Netflix and enjoying home renovation shows.
20. Jennifer N. Lamirand
Shareholder and Director, Crowe & Dunlevy, P.C.; Associate Justice, Supreme Court of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation
Jennifer Lamirand knows how to balance. While she’s a practicing attorney with Crowe & Dunlevy, specializing in federal Indian law, tribal law, gaming, securities litigation and general litigation, she is also an associate justice for the Supreme Court of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation. Her jobs combine assisting clients in a range of disputes and upholding the laws of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation. “I love having the ability to fight for the rights of my clients, to help them navigate our legal system, and to do my part to keep justice available and attainable,” she says, citing that what makes her proudest about her work is “representing women and Indigenous people in the legal profession so that their voices do not go unheard in conversations about the law, its application and its effects.” Lamirand, who graduated from Notre Dame Law School, spends her off hours traveling, enjoy the performing arts, visiting museums and spending time with her husband. She also supports a variety of nonprofits including Oklahoma Shakespeare, Camp Fire, and Oklahoma Alumni and Associates of Family, Career, and Community Leaders of America.
19. Joshua A. Busby
Dean of Students, Langston University
As Langston’s Dean of Students, Joshua Busby views his main mission as “providing opportunities for our students to grow and develop their skillset to make an impact in the world,” he says. Offering strategic leadership to a variety of Langston offices, Busby enjoys “working with a dynamic administrative team led by our president, who is a bold and innovative leader who cares about each and every one of our students.” Busby finds satisfaction in watching students walk across the stage at graduation. “I have the opportunity to think back to when that student first arrived on campus as a freshman, and can reflect on their journey and know that they entered Langston to learn, but now they are exiting to serve,” he says. When he’s not spending time with his wife and three kids, Busby volunteers his services as a licensed minister at the Greater Mount Olive Baptist Church, where he is also the director of the Social Justice Ministry. Additionally, he is a member of Lions Club International and serves the fraternity Phi Beta Sigma in various leadership roles. “I truly live by the quote from Marian Wright Edelman who said, ‘Service is the rent you pay for being,’” he says. “It is my hope that I never have a past due balance.”
18. Christopher G. Harlan
Project Manager and Structural Engineer, FSB Architects + Engineers
Christopher Harlan sees himself as “the primary advocate” for his clients as a project manager and engineer. One may not picture engineering as a social job, but Harlan says his favorite aspect is “working with people – whether they are clients or colleagues – to bring their ideas to life in a successful project.” When it comes to what drew him to the industry, it all started with LEGOs. “As I progressed through my formative years in education, that concept transformed into wanting to make a lasting impact and influence on the built environment in my community,” he says. Now, his greatest achievements at work include designing the structure for the Presidential Aircraft Recapitalization Complex Project and the new terminal addition at Will Rogers World Airport. Harlan is passionate about advocating for the prevention of child abuse through the Downtown Exchange Club of Oklahoma City. He’s an outdoor enthusiast and says his favorite stress reliever is “a warm, sunny day on the lake in the boat with my family.” He’s also an avid OSU football fan and tailgating enthusiast. In fact, “I even met my wife while tailgating,” he says.
17. David Thacker
Controller and Director of Accounting, Cowen Construction
From financial reporting to job costing, overhead, budgeting and payroll, David Thacker is the one to ask at Cowen Construction. He also serves as a member of the executive leadership team and is involved in the company’s strategic planning. “I work with a very diverse group of people who are mostly construction managers,” he says. “I enjoy helping them understand the numbers and how I can be a support mechanism to help them gain efficiency.” As a kid, Thacker describes himself as analytic. “This profession gives me the opportunity to provide value with this skillset,” he says. Thacker says his favorite moments on the job are “seeing a project change from raw land to a finished building. The challenge of coordinating different people with vastly different skillsets to overcome obstacles and reach a common goal is rewarding.” In his off time, Thacker volunteers with the United Way and is part of Leadership Tulsa Class 66. “Tulsa has given me so much in my career, and I can’t imagine starting my working career anywhere else,” he says. He also enjoys playing tennis and guitar, as well as spending time with his family.
16. Kate Petrilla, D.O.
Emergency Physician, Norman Regional Health System; Assistant Medical Director, EMSStat
Kate Petrilla describes her job, an emergency physician, as a privilege. Along with helping patients, she is also the assistant medical director for Norman Regional’s EMS system. “Norman Regional also sponsors an emergency medicine residency program,” she says. “This gives me the opportunity to help train the next generation of emergency medicine physicians.” She loves her profession because there’s “never a dull moment,” but also because of the accessibility to patients. “I felt emergency medicine gave me the chance to serve as broad of a population as possible,” she says. Describing emergency medicine as a “team approach,” Petrilla says her greatest achievement at work is “helping my team succeed on a daily basis.” And as it pertains to her career, the best advice she’s ever received is to “become comfortable being wrong. That mentality has allowed me to try without fear of failure and has opened me up to more success than I could have imagined,” she says. Off the clock, she volunteers her medical skills at the Gomer Jones Medical Clinic. She also enjoys staying active with snowboarding and mountain biking.
15. Deirdre Shepherd
Manager of Air Compliance, Chesapeake Energy
Leading a team of experts in the environmental, health and safety department at Chesapeake, Deirdre Shepherd and her team manage “everything related to compliance with air regulations, including greenhouse gas emissions,” she says. While Shepherd enjoys interacting with a variety of people each day, she also appreciates the technical details of her job. “It gives me the best of both worlds for an extroverted engineer,” she says. It’s safe to say that Shepherd is a strong advocate for the environment – something that’s integral to her job. “The world needs energy, and I am passionate about providing our product with the least impact possible to the environment,” she says. “CHK is openly and aggressively focused on being a good neighbor by protecting the environment and being a good employer with a focus on diversity, inclusion and equity. It is easy to come to work every day when your company’s values align with your values.” In her spare time, Shepherd volunteers with the United Way and the American Heart Association. She’s an avid fan of OrangeTheory and often spends her weekends at her two daughters’ soccer games.
14. Marcia Bruno-Todd
Director of Programs and Community Impact, Leadership Tulsa
Marcia Bruno-Todd credits her chosen profession in part to her parents, who “came to the U.S. mainland to provide a life of opportunities for my brother and me,” she says. “The more skills and resources they amassed, the more they had to share with the community.” The value of community service guides her in her role at LT, where she designs the company’s programming and workshops, striving to “make space for more seats at more tables, to have more voices that drive meaningful change in our community,” she says. “We have hundreds of everyday heroes who look to serve and support when confronted with complex issues such as systemic inequity and institutional racism. I get to support them in their work.” Bruno-Todd also helped to launch LT Represent, a non-partisan leadership program for those interested in learning more about appointed and elected positions in Tulsa. Off the clock, she’s involved in MetCares, the Affordable Housing Trust Fund of Tulsa, and the mayoral-appointed Sales Tax Overview Committee. A married mom of three, Bruno-Todd is also working towards her doctorate in educational policy, planning and leadership.
13. Trey Thaxton
Owner and CEO, Goldmill Co.
Oddly enough, it was getting nixed from his high school basketball line-up that led Trey Thaxton to his career as a creative consultant. “I got cut my senior year and had to pick up a sixth hour class, which happened to be graphic design,” he says. “The year ended with industry pros coming in to view our portfolios, and they all said that I had ‘a good eye and good balance,’” he says. Now, he owns and operates Goldmill Co., a creative consultancy that assists companies with branding, film and visual communications. “The best way I can explain it is: I create custom solutions to unique problems,” he says. “It may be a logo, merch, a coffee shop build out, a film, or a new business idea.” Along with time volunteered at church, Thaxton started a brand called Greenwood Ave., which he describes as a “celebration of Black entrepreneurship based on the Tulsa Race Massacre.” The proceeds from the project’s T-shirt line are used to help building efforts in North Tulsa. He also created a video series highlighting Black entrepreneurs around the world, and recently produced the opening film for the Tulsa museum Greenwood Rising. His (rare) off-time is spent with his wife and two kids, Emery and Phoenix.
12. Robert Tehee
Director of Marketing, Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa – Cherokee Nation Entertainment
Robert Tehee’s days are jam-packed, focusing on the daily operations of marketing, the box office and the call center at Tulsa’s Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. He also manages inventory control, profit loss statements, and daily marketing mediums. Along with the nuts and bolts, he loves his job because he’s “able to inspire my teams to connect with casino guests using creative innovations, while promoting their professional growth within the company. I started with Cherokee Nation Entertainment at a very young age with little to no knowledge of the gaming industry,” he says. “It wasn’t until a few months in that I realized there was so much opportunity within the company for professional growth.” As a Cherokee Nation citizen himself, Tehee is grateful for the opportunities the Nation has given him and countless others. “Having great professional leaders and mentors over the course of the last 16 years has had a huge influence on my professional growth to where I am today,” he says. Tehee participates in the company’s philanthropic efforts, which include Toys for Tots, blood drives and adopt-a-highway programs. Tehee can also be found enjoying family time with his wife, kids and dogs.
11. Morgan Smith
Attorney, Jones, Gotcher, & Bogan, P.C.
While being an attorney often seems like a one-man show, Morgan Smith says Jones, Gotcher & Bogan offers “mentorship and camaraderie. At JGB, we are a team, and I could not do my job without them.” Smith’s day-to-day consists of assisting and representing clients – who range from individuals to national companies – with issues including commercial litigation, disputed trusts and estates litigation, guardianships and family law. She says her proudest moments on the job come when she achieves “satisfactory outcomes for my clients.” Smith is involved with the Family and Children’s Services Young Professional Advisors Committee and its Adopt-A-Family Program. “The program matches donors with families in need to help make the holidays a little brighter. I adopted my first family while I was in law school, and have continued the tradition by adopting a large family each year with my firm.” In her leisure time, Smith enjoys concerts, home projects, hiking, rock climbing and traveling around the globe … where she once encountered a world leader. “In 2017, I met Ireland’s President, Michael D. Higgins, and his two Bernese Mountain dogs,” she says.
10. Norman Markland
Licensed Therapist and Independent Living Services Director, Pivot – “A Turning Point for Youth”
To say Norman Markland’s plate is full would be an understatement. Along with being a licensed therapist and founder of Markland Motivates – a nonprofit that provides mental health, financial literacy, mentorship and scholarships to African American men graduating high school – his career at Pivot revolves around the Supporting Kids in Independent Living program. There, he works with at-risk youth and families who are in crisis to “gain access to resources that will help them transition into adulthood as successfully as possible,” he says. Additionally, he coordinates OKC’s Safe Place program and leads the Teen Service Board. “Growing up, I always wanted to work in the community,” he says. “In college, I developed a passion for working with at-risk youth. It was then that I knew I wanted to commit my life to service.” He cites one of his greatest achievements at work as being Pivot’s Housing Navigator, helping OKC residents find short- and long-term housing solutions. He’s also involved with the Oklahoma Council on Economic Education, the Community Cardinal House and the Man Up program. Markland enjoys spending time with his daughter and family, as well as traveling.
9. Janel Bales
Marketing Coordinator, Wallace Design Collective
After enjoying her marketing classes in college, Janel Bales was hooked on the industry. Now, at Wallace Design Collective, Bales develops strategies on project-specific marketing activities, coordinates marketing materials, writes proposals and helps plan special events. “I love the people I work with,” she says. “I work with the best A/E/C marketing department around – I might be slightly biased.” She says what makes her the proudest about her work is how well the employees collaborate. “I believe working well as a team encourages personal growth, increases job satisfaction and makes happier employees,” she says. The company is big on philanthropy, Bales says, citing the company’s 40 Acts of Service campaign to celebrate their 40th anniversary. She was specifically moved by her work at Iron Gate on Archer’s new soup kitchen and pantry, which Wallace helped to create and volunteered for during its opening week. “That day was exhausting but so rewarding; I learned so much about Tulsa and the incredible respect for humanity that exists here,” she says. Along with serving as president of the Society for Marketing Professional Services, Bales is also an avid golfer.
8. Lou Hofmeister
Entrepreneur and Owner/Instructor, Kumon
Kumon – the educational network focused on mathematics and reading – has been a part of Lou Hofmeister’s life for as long as he can remember. “I grew up as a Kumon student and was an employee throughout my high school years,” he says. “It felt right when the opportunity presented itself to own and become a Kumon instructor.” He now spends his work days running a business that provides supplemental curriculum to students from preschool to high school. “I love working with a diverse body of students who are actively working towards individual goals,” he says. “I enjoy seeing a student’s attitude change towards math or reading as they build confidence through the direction and planning I provide.” His hard work has paid off; his greatest achievement, he says, is “becoming a top 50 center in the United States and top 100 in North America.” Outside Kumon, Hofmeister has a soft spot for animals; he and his wife “frequently foster puppies and kittens through local pet adoption agencies,” he says. The couple recently welcomed their first child, and Hofmeister also enjoys ice hockey and golfing.
7. Sydney Levine
Midstream and Domestic End User Manager, Zeeco
Sydney Levine’s love of animals brought her to the engineering realm. “I originally wanted to go to veterinary school and thought it would be advantageous to get an engineering degree,” she says. “Once I completed my internship at Zeeco I began to understand the many opportunities and avenues available within the engineering field from a global perspective.” Now, Levine works as part of the thermal oxidizer division, analyzing customer inquires and developing solutions for her clients. “I love being a part of a company that truly values their customers, the quality of their product and the growth of employees,” she says. Levine is busy outside work. Along with participating in Zeeco Younger Professionals, Catholic Charities, leadership forums and other philanthropic opportunities, she is an expert equestrian. “I started riding as a young child and fell in love with it. I have competed in national and world level competitions on and off since I was a teenager, but more consistently after graduating college,” she says. She loves spending time with her husband, son and her new 2-year-old Morgan horse. “I am looking forward to our first horse show season together,” she says.
6. Jake Elliott
ESG Product Director, TBS Factoring Service
Leading TBS’s technology product teams, Jake Elliott oversees two homegrown software applications, all third-party integrations, plus data and analytics. He loves his job for a variety of reasons. “TBS is a very quickly growing company that is constantly having to come up with new ideas, products and approaches to maintain that growth,” he says. “As someone who has gone through starting and running a technology company with lots of ideas and little money, having the opportunity to innovate like a start-up, but having the resources of an established company, is a dream come true.” A computer fanatic since childhood, Elliott’s career decision was easy. “When it came time to choose a degree program after high school, I was between MIS and computer science, with computer science ultimately winning out because it was in the College of Engineering at OU.” Off the clock, Elliott harbors a passion for education, serving on different boards at OU. He also coaches youth sports at the Edmond YMCA. He enjoys family time, woodworking and playing video games. “For the sake of saving face, I’ll add ‘with my children,’ but let’s be honest…” he jokes.
5. Shane D. Aaron
Architect and Partner, Selser Schaefer Architects
Shane Aaron says his childhood imagination facilitated his career as an architect. “I have always been driven by creativity, organization, form and order. As a child, most of my playtime occurred in my imagination, and when it manifested itself physically, it was through drawing and building.” Once his parents suggested architecture, he says, “I started drawing concepts for the offices of my future firm.” Today, Aaron leads his team in designing a variety of facilities and assists with finance, HR and business operations. “First and foremost, I am a facilitator,” he says. “It is my primary objective to clear the path and create the space my team and my clients need to thrive.” Outside the office, Aaron is involved with the American Institute of Architects and was recently named the organization’s 2023 president. “I am driven by advocating for the work architects do to shape the built environment,” he says. Aaron also enjoys reading, landscaping and writing. “I started writing a novel,” he says. “In a lot of ways, it feels like an extension of my profession – creating an environment and shaping people.”
4. David Karimian
Private Wealth Advisor, Prime Wealth Management – Ameriprise Financial Services
David Karimian helps his clients mold their futures through his work as a private wealth advisor at Prime Wealth Management. “I love seeing my clients live and enjoy the life they envisioned for themselves,” he says. After getting a degree in business administration from OU, Karimian became a certified financial planner, chartered retirement plan counselor, and an accredited portfolio management advisor. “I chose my profession as it allows me to pursue my passion of helping clients design a plan to help them accomplish their long-term financial goals,” he says – whether those goals are retiring early, going on a bucket list vacation or leaving a family legacy. In his spare time, Karimian stays involved through volunteerism at the Tulsa Boys’ Home and sitting on the board of Tulsa Ballet. He enjoys spending time with family, camping and exercise. When it comes to his work, his best advice is imperative: “Financial discipline leads to financial freedom. Do what your future self will thank you for.” As for a hidden talent, Karimian can bust a move. “I won a ballroom dancing award in college!” he says.
3. Chelsey Dee Gilbertson, D.O., M.B.A.
Vice President of Clinical Programs and Emergency Medicine Physician, INTEGRIS Health
Chelsey Gilbertson’s childhood made it a simple decision for her to choose medicine as a livelihood. “I was hospitalized a lot as a child and spent time in an oxygen tent – back when that was a treatment,” she says. “I vividly remember being five years old and my parents giving me a Fisher Price Doctor’s Kit through a window of the tent.” The rest is history. Now, Gilbertson is responsible for “aligning strategies and performance of key service lines across INTEGRIS Health,” including everything from intensive medicine to neurosciences, women’s health and oncology. She’s also helped to train and lead medical students and residents. What she loves most about her job, though, are the patients. “I come to work every day to make a difference for patients. In the emergency department, I have the honor to provide care on what is often the worst day of a patient’s or family member’s life. I love teaching residents to focus on details and have compassion.” Off the clock, Gilbertson spends time with her husband and son, teaches a Sunday School class and attends OSU sporting events. She also starts her day “at 4 a.m. with a work-out; exercise is my stress reliever.”
2. Brittany Lee
Director of Child Care Services, Oklahoma Human Services
Brittany Lee spends her days “assuring Oklahoma families have access to licensed, affordable, high-quality child care,” as well as assisting child care facilities in achieving supreme standards. She plans, organizes and develops the implementation of statewide child case service programs to meet the standards of the Federal Child Care Development Fund. In short, she helps Oklahoma kids thrive. “I love ensuring Oklahoma’s children have exceptional early education programs and services that make a difference in their lives and our community,” she says. Her career path, she says, feels predestined. “I have always had a passion for early childhood education. I had a gift with young children when I was growing up – children would often gravitate towards me,” she says. “There was something about pouring into children and watching how they were positively impacted. Simply put, working with children brings my heart joy.” In her off time, she supplements her enthusiasm for helping Oklahoma youth through Loveworks Leadership, Crossroads Youth and Family Services, and Infant Crisis Services. She also enjoys family time with her husband and daughters.
1. Kelly Dunn, M.D.
Psychiatrist, Addiction Medicine Physician, Assistant Clinical Professor, Executive Director of Treatment, National Center for Wellness and Recovery at OSU Medicine; Medical Director of Wellness, OSU Center for Health Sciences
Kelly Dunn works each day to push the envelope. “I’m not afraid to challenge the status quo if it means more people get the help they need,” she says. Dunn practices in what she describes as “the most stigmatized areas of medicine and culture” – mental health and addiction. “I knew that had to change, and that I could unite the best science has to offer with kindness and empathy in a way that would change the way the world views them, so that people could access the help they need to lead rich and full lives.” Dunn’s day-to-day consists of executive initiatives to “expand gold-standard addiction medicine treatment to the state of Oklahoma, treat substance use disorders in OSU’s Addiction Medicine specialty clinic, and support our wellness department in creating programming, curriculum and culture.” Her newest endeavor is supporting mental healthcare for collegiate athletes. “It has been enjoyable to expand my knowledge of the world of sports psychiatry and be a part of the development of these young adults,” she says. In addition to family time with her kids, Dunn also speaks at community events on topics like addiction, mental health and healthcare worker burnout.