Who We Are
Early in 1986 a group of Oklahoma leaders inspired by the belief that there was a need for more leadership at the state level met to discuss what to do. From that meeting came a proposal to have a statewide leadership program. People at the meeting left probably thinking that nothing more would be done but wasn’t the case. Clayton Taylor, Hershel Lamirand, and David Miller from Oklahoma City along with Dale Teeters, Rusty Richards, and Suzie Woody from Tulsa began meeting regularly in Stroud at the Quarter Horse Inn to develop an idea. The Quarter Horse Six, as they became known, divided Oklahoma into six regions, Oklahoma and Tulsa Counties plus the four quadrants of the state, to identify leaders to attend a meeting with the goal of forming a new statewide leadership program.
On September 27, 1987, LOK Class I was started. After eight class sessions the 52 members of Class I graduated on May 1, 1988. LOK became incorporated and established its own tax-exempt status that same year and history was in the making.
We have now entered our 33rd year with 1,629 Graduates, 181 Communities. In 2001, Youth LOK was developed and has now completed 19 Classes with 977 Graduates and 247 Schools. Starting with a part-time executive director, we currently have a full-time staff of four .
The primary program of Leadership Oklahoma is its annual educational, issues-oriented ten-month class program. Monthly two-day sessions are held in various communities throughout the state. Each year Oklahoma leaders who represent a wide geographic base and who have diverse backgrounds and vocations are selected to participate. Each class is exposed to the many social and environmental complexities of the state in order to stimulate inquiry, analysis and independent development of solutions for the public good. Class members meet and talk with Oklahoma’s current leaders and explore the state’s opportunities, needs, issues and resources. Based on the interaction and respect developed during the class year, a living network is formed – a network capable of identifying, evaluating and implementing projects of value to the people of Oklahoma.
Between 50 and 52 people are selected from various regions of the state to experience the adult program. Beginning with the mandatory retreat at St. Crispin’s in September, the class will travel to various parts of the state learning about the challenges facing Oklahoma graduating the end of April or first of May. Typically, topics covered include military issues, tribal government, tourism, criminal justice system, state government, education, economic development, water, immigration, agriculture and energy. Topics are added and edited over time to cover what is happening in the state.
Leadership Oklahoma graduates comment they want to remain connected to the organization. What they really mean is the connection to their classmates and other LOK alumni. Each Leadership Oklahoma class has the chance to learn more about the issues facing their communities and other communities all around the state. The real payoff is when participants are inspired by what they have learned and find ways to get more involved in improving our state.
Leadership Oklahoma is making a difference. It provides hope for the future as we work together to make Oklahoma a better place in which to live and work.