The thirteenth dean of Oklahoma City University’s School of Law, Jim Roth guides law students into successful futures. He is also a director at Phillips Murrah Law Firm and a lawyer with A New Energy, a consultancy specializing in energy policy and developments. Roth, the first openly LGBTQ+ person to hold a statewide elected office in the state, also served as Oklahoma County Commissioner and an Oklahoma Corporation Commissioner. We caught up with Roth and got his thoughts on … 

… his many responsibilities. 

I’ve always heard that if you want to get something done well, ask a busy person. I hope that is true in my case, as I am certainly busy, and I am grateful for it. My professional life is driven by passion, and so each day is giving 110% in as many directions as are needed in the moment. As Law Dean, every day is different, and by far the best part of the job is engaging with our law students in a great, encouraging, community vibe. As a director at Phillips Murrah law firm and a lawyer at A New Energy, I am better able to manage the day-to-day demands because of awesome colleagues, and we work ahead of deadlines. But when days demand it, I usually get up at 4 a.m. to try to get ahead.

… his passion for clean energy. 

Throughout my life, I have always marveled at nature and the incredible gifts of this earth. As a kid, that meant immersing myself in the natural wonders. As an adult, I caught the professional bug for clean energy from my time serving as an Oklahoma Corporation Commissioner (OCC). That powerful agency touches the lives of every citizen through its rates and regulations of utilities, oil and gas regulation, transportation, telecommunication and so many other industries. Our state has immense energy blessings, both below and above the ground, and we need it all. But it is my hope and prayer that we move quickly towards cleaner options to lower costs, improve public health and safeguard God’s green Earth. That’s the winning trifecta to me.

… how he stays energetic. 

Coffee and the idea that I will sleep in the afterlife.

… his proudest moments. 

Probably my public service and the two elections as an Oklahoma County Commissioner, first elected in Oklahoma County in 2002. At the time, no one had been elected openly gay or lesbian, so with the help of a ton of friends, my family and supporters, we made history and began a chance to serve our fellow citizens. It’s been a high honor. I genuinely believe I have a heart for service, which is why it has also been so rewarding to work for the OCU law students these past five years as their Law Dean. They give me hope for the future. 

… his involvement with LGBTQ+ equality efforts.

I guess I was called to action because Oklahoma politics were so anti-gay in the 1990s, a time when I had moved here in my twenties. Since then, I have found it necessary to stand up for equality,for my family and the broader minority community, sometimes directly and most other times indirectly by just trying to be a good and involved citizen. My direct involvements have included: co-founding of the Cimarron Alliance Group, Oklahoma’s first LGBT political action committee, in 1995; a member of the national Human Rights Campaign’s major donor program; a board member of the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund’s Victory Institute in Washington, D.C.; a supporter across the decades of Freedom Oklahoma and Oklahomans for Equality; past co-chair of the Oklahoma AIDS Care Fund’s Red Tie Night; and other occasions to support allied community groups the Jewish Federation for Greater Oklahoma City and Oklahoma Center for Community and Justice. It takes all of us to protect
all of us.

… where you’ll find him in his spare time. 

One word: Outside. I love the outdoors. In fact, my mom claims that was the first word I ever uttered. And I’ve been all about it ever since.

… his hope for the future. 

I guess I would just simply share that it is my hope for our Oklahoma, a great state I chose to call home, that for us to be better, to improve the human condition of so many Oklahoma neighbors with so many real challenges, that I wish we could all chose more kindness, mutual respect and more understanding for each other. That’s my hope.

… his recent appointment as Grand Marshall of the OKC Pride Festival.

It’s surreal for sure, because there are many, many more deserving people who have overcome tougher circumstances in life. But I am grateful for the chance to join in community to celebrate how far LGBTQ+ Oklahomans have come, how far we must go, how hard we must still fight to live and thrive in Oklahoma. 

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